I love ice cream. I think coming from Scotland where ice cream was a
special treat on the handful of sunny days throughout the year, it has a
special place in my heart. It reminds me of sunny days by the beach,
building sandcastles and having fun.
For me, Ben & Jerry’s have been able to capture that fun feeling in their brand in a way that no other ice cream brand does. Their products are funny, maybe ridiculous; ‘Phish Food’ with marshmallow, chocolate fish and toffee sauce. They have a lot of fun in naming their products, promoting them and their packaging is great fun to read.
What started out in a converted petrol station in Vermont in 1987, has grown into one of the biggest ice cream brands in the world, ultimately being bought by the Unilever conglomerate in 2000 for over $300m.
Ben & Jerry’s is a company that has inspired some of my own ideas and the approach that I have taken in business over the past few years. Mostly because they’ve been able to create a great brand, fun products and created a business that stands out.
Using their packaging to protest about issues they feel strongly about is a great idea but probably the single biggest way that the company has been able to impact on the world has been by buying its ingredients from companies that share its values. An example is the Grayston bakery, which makes brownie chunks for them. Started by a ‘Jewish-Buddhist-former-nuclear-physicist-monk’ called Bernie Glassman, the bakery employs economically disenfranchised people. They are people who otherwise wouldn’t have a lot of hope finding jobs and earning a living.