Reinventing an Established Brand

New leadership and the potential for growth meant it was time to tell the Barts story


While sitting at a high top table in a Boston WeWork, the man across from me said, “I still don't feel like we know who we are.”

His name was Tom, and he was the new owner of Barts Ice Cream Company. He and his team had just gone through a tiring and fairly expensive branding process, but the project didn't feel complete. The company was still struggling to make decisions and share their story.

I responded that, based on my review of their brand, the issue lay in their lack of a brand strategy. While the firm they'd worked with had put a lot of effort into packaging design, they had neglected to establish a strategy, document it, and then work with the leadership to extend it across the organization.

Tom responded, “Can you help us create a strategy that will allow us to express who we are and make decisions based on that?”

The Collaboration

Tom asked us to develop a purpose-driven strategy for the company. As the new leader and CEO, he was determined to build a brand that delighted customers and a company that his team loved to work for. As part of the process, we would receive a copy of their existing brand files, review them, and then provide recommendations for streamlining or updating the look to match the strategy.

I took on the project not just because I love the product (the ice cream really is that good) but also because I saw incredible potential to build a true, purpose-driven organization.

After some time had passed and other projects had cleared, we began the process.

Putting the Pieces Together

Their project came with several challenges. First, the company had already invested in a branding process. Thus, they wanted to salvage as much as possible, provided it would work for them going forward.

Second, the team was fatigued having just spent several months working with another firm. While that may not sound like a challenge, project fatigue is one of the biggest roadblocks in branding. It’s difficult to capture an organization’s core when its people aren’t running right alongside you. The process lags and the results are superficial because they don’t have the energy to dig deep.

Last, but certainly not least, the company has a history. For the brand, that meant helping to find the points of commonality and authenticity between those new to the company and those who had worked there for 20 years.

Completing the Puzzle

We started by reviewing everything the company had created as part of its first branding process. It helped to give us context and a better understanding of how the last initiative had been approached.

We then did a sit-down interview with the CEO. It lasted several hours and provided an in-depth, human perspective on the company.

But that perspective is not complete without everyone’s input, so we surveyed the entire team, hitting on many of the same points we had explored with the leadership.

We also conducted a brief competitor analysis to supplement the work done by the previous firm.


Then we drafted the brand strategy. We developed a purpose, mission, vision, and set of core values as the company felt these were the most critical pieces for them, not just as a brand but as an organization.

I spent a long time sitting with the responses because it was clear that, while there were many points of commonality, so much of their focus had been polarized around their product, not the company as a whole. I would need to help them take logical steps back from the product to get something viable and scalable.

I could see clearly that nostalgia was important. They haven’t changed how they make their ice cream since they were founded 75 years ago. They believe in real ice cream, which to them means that one pint weighs one pound because it’s that creamy and dense.

I zeroed in on the word ‘uncomplicate.’ It captured that feeling of days gone by, of summer as a child, and of simple joys without dating the brand in a negative way. I combined it with the word ‘joy’ because it was the one emotion everyone at the company agreed on.

Thus their purpose is: “To uncomplicate life with the sincere joy of ice cream.”

It is what a purpose should be--simple, with the ability to act as a North Star for 100 years.

For their vision, we chose to hone in on their goal to expand nationally and made sure that both product and people were reflected in their mission. The core values we chose were local, authentic, and self-assured.


I first shared the draft with Tom, who was excited by what we’d put together. He provided a few minor notes and approved setting up a formal meeting to present the strategy and go through our brand identity review.

For the review, we were intent on streamlining. The previous company had provided so many options that the internal team was unsure what to do with all the pieces they had been given. We wanted to help them make decisions more easily and with more intentionally.


We delivered the presentation in person to Tom and two other stakeholders. I’m pleased to say that both the strategy and the recommendations were well received.

After walking them through our thinking behind the brand strategy, one of the stakeholders shared, “It’s so amazing to see how much goes into so few words, but this is exactly what we’ve been struggling to say. This is us.”

We made a few careful adjustments to wordsmith the pieces based on solid feedback from the stakeholders, both of whom spend a lot of time face-to-face with the customer.

We also left with a plan of action to implement changes to their brand identity. We have already taken the first steps by documenting the changes to most of the key components, like their logo and color palette, and delivering that information in a new brand guidebook.

Our next steps will be to tackle their icon and create a broader range of event materials and matching apparel -  and so much more. I remain enthusiastic about this brand’s potential.

If you haven’t tried Barts, please do. It is the densest, creamiest pint of joy in your freezer.


"I opened this last night and I have to tell you - this is amazing work! I was almost brought to tears to read what I and the team have been thinking and/or saying for the last three years. To have it organized and structured is unreal. I really can’t express how happy I am with everything you have done.”

- Tom Schmidt, CEO, Barts Ice Cream Co.