Case Study

Cold Stone Creamery

A Scoop of Success

When Cold Stone Creamery decided to grow their small franchise system they looked to HEASLEY&PARTNERS to help them. It started simply by helping them with their Annual Franchise Meeting.

It was clear they needed some expert guidance and we were happy to deliver our best. It didn’t take five minutes in that small ballroom with the hundred or so attendees to recognize that something magical was alive with this company. The energy was unlike anything we had seen. It became clear that the heart of this brand was alive here amongst the franchisees and managers, but invisible to the outside world.


HEASLEY&PARTNERS began working with Cold Stone in 1999 and initial meetings were designed to discover the heart of the company, its founders, leaders and team members.

We looked at what the company was doing. What it was saying. And what it hoped to become. We talked with the people who made up the Creamery Team. We listened and listened some more. We used our heart and our wisdom of human nature and human needs. And what we discovered is people who were passionate about delivering the best ice cream. We realized we had to capture this energy and spread it to all who encountered the brand. But first we had to put it into words.


For Cold Stone, HEASLEY&PARTNERS developed foundational messages that spoke to two levels of customers: the franchisees who own and operate the stores and the consumers who ultimately enjoy the ice cream.

The messages included the company’s founding story: The Tale of Two Ice Cream Lovers Who Followed Their Heart. And it spoke of the happiness and joy that can only come from that “first bite experience.” These were the early beginnings of a brand that would become known as the ultimate ice cream experience and that existed for one reason and one reason only: to make people happy. If only discovering the simple message was a simple as that!, 

Stage Image

Once we tasted the ice cream, which happened between our first and second meeting with the company president, it was obvious the images for this brand were not in alignment to the ice cream itself.

The stores were not in alignment with the ice cream. There was a massive disconnect. Clearly something had to change. The ice cream either needed to taste worse (not an option!) or the stores and the images surrounding the brand had to get better. In other words the Promise had to measure up to the Experience. 

HEASLEY&PARTNERS embarked upon a search for a commercial interior design firm to begin shaping the new look and feel for the stores. We had our designer begin the migration to what was to what the stores would become in terms of collateral and in-store signage. We knew it would need to be a staged process and treated it as such. Ultimately, the brand image became one that redefined the category forever.



From the brand platform established by HEASLEY&PARTNERS Cold Stone’s team began to rise to their new image and infused their heart into everything they did.

We worked with every department in the company ensuring as their CEO would often remind us, that the heart remained alive through the company’s rapid growth. The work was varied but the goal to us was always the same: make Cold Stone Creamery come alive for everyone—create moments—and help people experience the essence of the culture and the brand. 


In a company that was growing as fast as Cold Stone Creamery, developing systems was critical. HEASLEY&PARTNERS’ mission was to make sure that the heart surrounded all the mind-based processes.

In other words, it was our job to make sure that people never forgot the mission, the higher purpose and the why behind what they were doing. We did that though a variety of project and media throughout our ten-year relationship.


Cold Stone Creamery became an American business success story growing from about 35 stores in 1999 to over 1400 by 2008. HEASLEY&PARTNERS was thrilled to play the role that we did in that growth and witnessed first hand that when a solid brand is established, the message is relentlessly spread inside and outside the organization, the culture is consistently infused with brand cues and the company puts a value on heart, great things will happen. This is The HEART Effect in action.



  • Brand Evaluation
  • Brand Foundational Messaging and Essence
  • Brand image evaluation and evolution
  • Ongoing Advisory Services to Executives and Leadership
  • First Local Store Marketing Program
  • First Co-op Program
  • Award-winning Cold Stone Creamery Videos.
  • The Company's Annual Franchisee Meeting for nearly ten years
  • Countless Other Special Events Including Times Square Store Opening
  • Evolved Store Design
  • Product Launches
  • Franchisee Communications and Writing
  • In-store Music Programming
  • Culture development
  • Sale Communications Plan