> Wehbe Marketing

Branding Is the Foundation That All Marketing Efforts Are Built Upon

What comes first, branding or marketing?

 According to Freddie Wehbe, President of Wehbe Marketing and Make It Happen Consulting, the most common oversight business owners make is not fully understanding the difference between branding and marketing. Branding is the foundation that all marketing efforts are built upon.

Branding is the expression of the essential truth about an organization. It’s the  unique story. Once the consumer—or community—understand the story, great marketing can begin.   Freddie Wehbe has been a fixture in the Gainesville area since leaving his job as an aerospace engineer with NASA in the 1990s to become one of the most successful Domino’s franchisees in the world. When asked what made his Gator Domino’s stores so successful—in other words, what was his company’s “essential truth”—he is quick to say, “It was community involvement expressed through cause-related marketing,” in addition to selecting and retaining talent.

Even before making his first pizza, Freddie fell in love with Gainesville and found he could not turn down local schools and charities when asked for pizza donations. Before he knew it, Freddie was participating in fundraisers almost weekly.   Freddie borrows the term “cause-related marketing,” or “cause marketing” for short—first coined by American Express in 1983 to describe its campaign to raise money for the Statue of Liberty’s restoration—to describe his secret weapon. In fact, Freddie feels so strongly about the benefits of cause marketing that he requires all his clients to practice a “cause-centric” marketing plan.

“The community supports businesses that support the community,” he continues. “It’s as simple as that.”


In marketing studies, 87% of consumers said they would switch brands if the product was associated with a good cause. Cause-related marketing is the mechanism that lets the consuming public know that your company shares the same social goals. What’s more, the Cause Marketing Forum released a study that said 72%  of American consumers avoided purchasing products from companies with disagreeable practices. In other words, consumers want to use their purchasing power to help shape social issues.

With cause marketing at the forefront, Freddie grew his pizza business from 1 to 11 locations—in addition to locations at  Ben Hill  Griffin Stadium, Exactech Arena, and Mckethan Stadium—and sold more pizzas than any other Domino’s franchise in the world, right here in Gainesville. Before selling his  restaurants  in 2016,  Freddie was the first Domino’s operator to win three National Manager of the Year awards, competing against over 5,000 other managers nationwide.

He is also a six-time International Gold Franny winner, an award given to the top 1% of Domino’s franchise operators. Almost immediately after selling his restaurants and retiring from pizza his phone began ringing off the hook. All questions were similar: “How did you make your businesses so successful?” and “Can you help me market my business?” Later in 2016, Freddie founded Wehbe Marketing and Make It Happen Consulting.

The company focuses on branding, marketing, and consulting, servicing a multitude of clients in a variety of industries, including automotive, sports, and of course, the restaurant industry. In 2019, all of Wehbe Marketing’s clients took home a cumulative 31 awards at the annual Gainesville People’s Choice Awards. Freddie is also the business manager for several NCAA football coaches, including Hall of Fame and Gator legend Steve Spurrier.

What is in the future for Freddie and his team at Wehbe Marketing and Make It Happen Consulting? Freddie sees his company remaining streamlined and specialized, focusing on core clients and fine-tuning the connections of cause marketing and all innovative avenues of which to spread his clients’ message. Since the fall of 2019 Freddie and his team have launched 3 new sports podcasts, Inside the Huddle with Coach Steve Spurrier, former Gator QB Shane Matthews, and local sports personality Steve Russell, Pod Up with Matthews in the Morning with football great, Shane Matthews, and Hoop There it Is with ESPN’s Mark Wise and Steve Russell.

Freddie is also excited to be a managing partner in the new Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille restaurant, which is coming to Celebration Pointe in the fall of 2020. The football-themed restaurant is inspired by the legendary sports career of local legend and Florida Gator “Head Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier. Freddie resides in Gainesville with his wife Daurine and two boys, Ronnie and Dany.

Submit your Innovation Story

Join and network with a global community of innovators  by sharing your success story with the world.



Our promise: we dislike spam as much as the next person, and promise never to break your trust in us. We will never sell data – this is only used for the INNOVATE® Newsletter