advice on how to build meaningful brands

October 29, 2020

82 | Hipnostalgia: The A&W story with Sarah Mueller. How A&W managed to attract boomers and millennials and thrive during the pandemic.

Why you’ve got to listen to this episode:

A&W is a popular brand, in North America, and, as it turns out, in parts of Asia as well. For some, the brand has been an integral part of their community and evokes childhood memories. But A&W’s story is not a well-known one. That is until now.

In this episode, I talk with Sarah Mueller, SVP of Marketing and Development for A&W Restaurants Inc. Sarah, has been with A&W for over 12 years and is responsible for the development of all brand strategy and consumer touchpoints, including national and local store marketing, product and calendar development, traditional and non-traditional media, public relations, franchise sales and restaurant asset design.  If that’s not enough, she recently expanded her role to include the recruiting of franchise partners.

Sarah tells us the story of the over 100-year-old brand. From its humble beginnings, to how it became the means for so many to achieve the American dream, to the many disrupting changes in ownership and strategies.

When I first met Sarah earlier this year and heard her tell the A&W story, I knew I wanted to share the story in the podcast. What I didn’t know at the time, is that this story would be even more important now. It turns out, that A&W is probably one of the few brands, particularly in the restaurant business, that has been able to not only endure the COVID-19 pandemic but to thrive in it.

This is a story of resilience and of how a brand had to look to its past to find its future.

Who can benefit from listening:

Sarah’s extensive experience in multiple areas of brand and marketing means this episode is full of insights and great advice from leadership, strategy, to consumer insights, field marketing and more.

Key areas discussed in this episode:

  • The importance of consistency or leadership and strategy
  • The significance of brand symbols and rituals
  • Understanding the connection your audience has with your brand not just your product

Links and resources mentioned in this episode


Thanks for listening

This is the WWI homecoming parade in June 2019 in Lodi California, where A&W started and served its first root beer.

These are the two partners and founders which the name A&W comes from.

This photo from 1926 depicts one of the first drive ins.


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