Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood that Schwan’s food trucks frequented. I remember the distinct yellow truck, with the schwan on the side, and the “swooshy” font that spelled the name. I remember when it would drive by, seemingly every week, and when it didn’t come for what felt like forever. I also remember the excitement that came when it would stop in front of our house, and the “aw, man!” that occurred (out loud, too) when it would pass us up.
At times I thought the Schwan’s salesmen just came up to the door, asking if we needed anything, and other times I knew they were delivering an order my Mom had made. Either way, I always wondered why they didn’t stop every time I saw them. I wanted what all kids scream for… Ice cream!
I know that perceptions of time and actuality of events are sometimes skewed in memory from childhood to adulthood; however, one thing I’m certain of is that I viewed the Schwan’s truck as THE ice cream truck of our neighborhood. I think I remember an actual ice cream truck in our neighborhood literally once or twice, music and all. But Schwan’s? They were a childhood staple. They were considered the best, and I’d take the Schwan’s truck over a regular ol’ ice cream truck any day. Call it advertising to the true customer peeking out the window!
Fast forward to today (I’ve moved a few times since my childhood neighborhood), and I hadn’t heard of or seen a Schwan’s truck in years. I had wondered what ever happened to them, but honestly chalked it up to one of three things:
1) They went out of business.
2) Their trucks weren’t running around anymore because home delivery was a lost art.
3) They just didn’t sell well in the area I lived.
It really had never occurred to me to look them up!
Then one day, a newly branded Schwan’s truck pulled out of a neighborhood ahead of me while on my way home from work. I literally said out loud to myself, “Is that a Schwan’s truck?!” I was honestly surprised. Seeing that truck definitely brought back some great childhood memories, and a certain sort of pride that they’re still around – possibly making other children’s days brighter with ice cream, just like when I was little.
I immediately noticed a new truck design, and a new logo. Then MANY thoughts arose:
Why the new brand? They even changed the actual Schwan image on the logo. With the detailed wings. And the “shwooshy” font. Why change what was, to me, such an iconic symbol? What. The. Heck. And is that a different yellow, too?!
As soon as I got home, I Googled “Schwan’s trucks”, and found their new-to-me logo and truck wrap design, along with their matching website. I analyzed it, then decided to find the old branding and trucks from my childhood memories, and conducted a comparison. It was different, but it definitely was not the same.
Then the thought crossed my mind that even I have undergone my own brand evolutions, in the much shorter-lived life of my company. In all reality, every brand has to change at some point in order to live in this highly competitive world of capturing the consumer’s attention – and gaining results from that attention. It’s not that I expected them to stay the same so much as keep the nostalgic feeling created for me when I was a child.
Digging deeper, I found that Schwan’s was more than the ice cream truck I remember as a child; they actually own some well-known brands that are available in local grocery stores. I also learned that they’ve definitely had their ups and downs over the years. But the one thing that remains the same with the new look? Schwan’s is dearly keeping the tradition that brought them to life in the first place: Home Service Food Delivery.
Schwan’s wasn’t trying to create a new brand for itself in order to lose the customers it once had and follow a different path. Schwan’s rebranded in order to keep the loyal customers, and gain new ones, all the while forging the same path within the same market they had been serving since that life-changing delivery in 1952.
Of course, there have been other designs of the brand since opening Schwan’s Dairy in 1948; however, the branding I’m referring to is the two most recent renditions. If you’re wondering what the big deal is, see the transformation below.
There are definitely lessons to be learned from this evolution:
#1. Relevancy requires effort and change.
#2. Traditions and values worth keeping require clear focus and determination.
#3. Great people equal great processes and products, which equal great results.
Schwan’s obviously wants to keep its doors open, doing the same thing they’ve always done in process. This new brand just means that they saw the need to update their image in order to stay the course, and it was most likely reluctantly done on some level. Letting go of the past and trekking into the future takes guts, but it’s admirable when done correctly.
If you’re older or don’t feel the same nostalgia from Schwan’s that I do, you’re not going to get the fact that I was pleasantly surprised with my findings. The Schwan’s brand definitely has reason to be proud of where they started, to where they are today, and why it matters to constantly “work hard, help one another, grow in every way, be enthusiastic and have integrity in everything that you do” (Marvin Schwan). Schwan’s probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that mindset.
Now… Ice cream, anyone?
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