What’s wrong with what’s going on in Cold Stone?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

23 August 2011

Frankly, it’s gotten annoying to go in there

I have a sweet tooth that rivals the best of them. My greatest weakness? Ice cream.

That’s why when Cold Stone Creamery came to town, I was one happy camper. Well, at least for the few hours before I ventured into the creamery.

I’ll give you the run-down.

“Like most of the rebranding garbage out there, Belk ended up with a new logo and color palette and not much more (smells like politics to me).”

Here is what Belk Department Stores has to say about themselves:

Belk, Inc., a private department store company based in Charlotte, N.C., is the home of Modern. Southern. Style. with 293 Belk stores located in 16 Southern states and a growing digital presence.

Belk Department Stores are owned by Sycamore partnersBelk is a portfolio company of Sycamore Partners (So much for Southern Roots. Last I checked, Sycamore Partners are in NYC), a private equity firm based in New York. Belk and www.belk.com offer a wide assortment of national brands and private label fashion apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family along with top name cosmetics, a wedding registry and a large selection of quality merchandise for the home.

Belk offers many ways to connect via digital and social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google Plus, …”

See more posts in the following related categories: Cold Stone brand Cold Stone Creamery Cold Stone service ice cream brands QSR brand


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I was greeted with a chorus of zany, Jim Carrey-like voices: “Well hey there, welcome to Cold Stone!!!”

It was weird. I mean really, is anyone that happy?

“So sir, would you like to hear about the Cold Stone process?” I was asked with a jovial, Carol Brady tone.

How annoying. I wondered why the Cold Stone management would teach its young, collegiate workers to be obnoxiously friendly. Certainly, this was as uncomfortable for them as it was for me.

Did I mention they sang too?

Cold StoneI had to get out fast — but not without my ice cream in hand first.

Sadly, the ice cream was really good. Sad because I never went back. I just couldn’t handle the overly saccharine employees ever again. (Sure. It’s not their fault. But how could I support a brand that considers it a good thing for its employees to annoy its customers?) Sad too because they immediately ruined the potential of my being dedicated to their brand.

Not surprisingly, Cold Stone’s brand is plummeting. And I’d be the first to speculate that customers have opted to not come back because, like me, they would rather eat fried dirt then spend another second with the cheerful clan of Cold Stone employees.

What’s worse, Cold Stone’s decision to counteract this fallout was to change from its primary focus of ice cream to that of a multi-faceted sweet shop. It’s become a house with a healthy yogurt bar as well as the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, in addition to the classic ice cream alternative. This all seems about as inane to me as its employees. Is the objective to avoid what is broken by simply making an even larger mess?

Cold Stone’s brand should be built around the experience of having great ice cream (not about having lots of choices or of offering boutique chocolates. Because If I wanted those, I would find the local mom and pop fudge shop, which, Cold Stone is not). Cold Stone Creamery should be about having one of your favorite guilty pleasures — ice cream — and having it as decadently as your heart desires. It’s about rewarding yourself by spending an extra buck to get that really awesome treat you’ve been thinking about all day.

What the Cold Stone brand is about is not being the jack of all sweets.

And it is certainly not about killing your customers with overly sugary kindness.

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