6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips


There are 80,000 ice cream shops throughout the United States, so how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you compete with big-box competitors? Believe it or not, gone are the days where the most powerful marketing strategies are giving away free ice cream, offering more flavors or toppings, or BOGO deals. 

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “oh come on, what do you mean FREE doesn’t work anymore.” Traditional marketing has changed dramatically in recent years, but don’t worry: we’re here to “dish the scoop” on the best ways to market your ice cream shop in today’s market. FREE is no longer good enough these days, trust is just as important!

With so many different ice cream shops all around, you need to think, “why should someone pick mine over the other 79,999?” Keep reading to hear about these ice cream shop branding tips.

6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips
purple ice cream @av8living

1. Individualize & Be Unique

With 80,000 ice cream shops sweeping across the nation, it’s important to differentiate yourself from the crowd. If you do the same thing as everyone else, your brand is no longer your brand. Think to yourself, “what makes us different?”, “Why should someone want to dine here?” If you, the business owner can’t think of anything, think about what your customer thinks. Try zoning in on your flavor, aesthetics, customer service, social media outreach; what makes you different and then branch out from there. 

Don’t be afraid to try new things, some will work and some won’t, but that’s part of the game when owning any type of business!

6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips
happy cup @jackieapproved

2. Focus On Your Target Market

“We’re just an ice cream shop, everyone is our target market.”

Is this statement true? Yes and no. You need to think to yourself what kind of ice cream shop do you want to be? Do you want to be the classic corner ice cream parlor that hasn’t had any upgrades since the 1950’s, the hip and trendy ice cream spot in center city, or do you want to be the ice cream stand “drive-in” in a suburban town. Depending on what you’re displaying, your brand to be will have a huge influence on what your specific target market is. Remember, although there are 80,000 ice cream shops in the United States, they all don’t have the exact same target market.

3. Marketing Strategies

Now that you know who your target audience is, it’s time to figure out the most effective way to reach them. Three strategies that we think work best in today’s market are: social media, public relations, strong brand image, and of course word-of-mouth. 

American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media, according to a new study by market-research group Nielsen. That’s up from nine hours, 32 minutes just four years ago.”

With all that time Americans spend online, it’s a no brainer to invest in having an online presence. Some ways to do this is creating an engaging Instagram account, maintaining a consistent Facebook page and inviting various news outlets to come to try your ice cream. If your target market is millennials, engage with them through an aesthetically pleasing and fun social media presence. If your target market is older adults, engage with them by offering loyalty programs for each time they stop in.

Stay tuned in the near future for a more in-depth article on the importance of having an online presence and social media tips!

4.Customer Service & Experience

“Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.” —Kate Zabriskie, Founder Business Training Works

Your customers will most likely be interacting with your employees, rather than yourself so it’s extremely important to hire and train people that align with the values that your brand wants to display. The employees that you hire can unfortunately make or break your business, regardless of all the time and energy you have put into building it up. What we recommend is really carefully training your employees to know as much as possible about the business, while emphasizing the importance of customer service. 

Motivating your team with the right leadership is just as important to the success of your business, delicious ice cream shop in this case, as much as your bottom line is.

6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips
front of the house @graciestudio

5. Be Involved with Your Community

Whether you’re located in a big city, small town, beach resort, or “in the middle of nowhere” it’s important to engage with the community in which you do business with.

Whether you call it corporate social responsibility, cause marketing, or even “charity work”, businesses that participate in these give-backs not only are helping out the community, but themselves as well. Giving back to the community gets your name out there in a way that makes your potential customers feel good about giving you their business. Some ways that you can give back to your community is by decorating a stand for a block party, giving away free samples during fundraising events, or even sponsoring a local sports team.

Any way to help out the community, while gaining some awareness is a win-win for everyone. Get involved!

6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips
ice cream parlor @tickledpink.bkk

6. Be Patient

It takes time to figure out the perfect way to brand your ice cream shop.

Brand awareness, recognition, and loyalty usually doesn’t happen overnight and that is OK, it takes time to build brand trust with customers. You’re in this for the long-run, the marathon if you will, not a sprint. As times change, so will your brand slightly, but remember to always stay true to your core values and ethics. Sit down, take a breath, and script your one year, five years, and even ten year plan and then go from there.

6 Ice Cream Shop Branding Tips
aesthetics @graciestudio

Thank you so much for reading with us today, we hope that you found these ice cream shop branding tips helpful! For more tips and tricks on how to build a successful business, feel free to read our other step by step recommendations!

Also, check out more of our articles by going to our Brand My Cafe page.


Brand My Cafe helps small & medium-sized businesses, cafes and foodservice brands grow their identity through custom coffee cups, coffee sleeves & more. Join our exclusive Facebook group Restaurant Brand Builders to brainstorm ideas with passionate other passionate owners!

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