Ice Cream Four All: How to Stand Out Using Branded Packaging

Friday, April 06, 2018

If you ask us, "making it" as a small business in the highly saturated food market is the sure sign of a superstar! One of our favourite superstars? Ajoa Mintah, founder of Four All Ice Cream. When people asked, "how are you going to make and sell ice cream when you can buy it anywhere?" she responded by developing fabulous branding, painstakingly thought out flavour options, and truly phenomenal ice cream. Did we mention we think she's amazing? If you want to take a page from Ajoa's book, you can read her advice below on the importance of consistency, the role branded packaging plays in both a wholesale and retail environment, and more.

Four All ice cream cube

Jump to Question:

What makes Four All unique?
How do you differentiate yourself?
On Wholesale vs. Retail
Why did you get branded packaging?
What was the impact of branded packaging?
Why did you decide to work with us?
Advice for someone launching a business
Just the numbers

 

What do you think makes four all unique? What do your customers love about you?

There’s no business like ours at all. When I first told people the idea, most people were supportive, but there were a few that would ask me, “how are you going to make and sell ice cream when you can buy ice cream anywhere?” It made me realize that we really want to offer something different and unique.

For us, the whole idea behind four all is to make something that everybody loves. I think everybody loves ice cream, but a lot of people stop eating it for a whole bunch of dietary reasons. In my own family, I have one daughter who doesn’t do well with dairy; it makes her feel sick. I felt like it was important that people could bring their whole family and everybody would have a choice of something. So I wanted to create a great product that people can really enjoy. Another thing we’re really proud of is that we really do believe in community, and we try to incorporate the community around us as much as possible when it comes to our flavours.

 

How do you differentiate yourself?

We’ve got rotating flavours every month, and part of our branding is that we’re natural, local, and mindful. Natural: we make our product with real food, it’s not artificial flavouring. Local: We’re inspired by the community, and we love to showcase what the community has to offer. Mindful: We’re aware of who’s purchasing our product, what they like, don’t like, need, don’t need… 

The flavours we come up with aren’t gimmicky either, they’re all well thought out and well presented. We’re able to say, “this is why this flavour makes sense at this time.” To me the worst thing is to put something out there and hope people like it. We maybe even think about it too hard, but everything’s always thought out, from how it fits with our branding all the way to how it fits with the other flavours that we have at the time.

Four all Ice Cream cubes by Georgette Packaging

 

What prompted you to make the jump from your background in chemical engineering to opening your own ice cream business?

In a lot of ways, it’s really not that much of a jump at all. The whole idea behind chemical engineering is that we design processes and figure out how to get things from a raw to a finished state. In my last job, I was doing accounting, which was fine but so far outside of what I actually studied. With ice cream, for me it really wasn’t that much of a jump, because it was something that I’d studied and something that I liked. It was a better match in terms of what I’d learned how to do in school.

 

Four all is available both wholesale and retail. What do you find to be the most surprising difference between the two?

I think the surprise for me is the fact that we actually have a strong retail presence. I didn’t really think we’d have a lot of people coming to our retail location. I really originally expected to be about 75% wholesale and 25% retail, and really I was hopeful that I’d even get up to 25% on the retail side. But actually, last summer it switched completely around! (75% retail, 25% wholesale). It’s incredible I think, and it still really blows my mind. I think for one thing, it’s a testament to the fact that a business like ours doesn’t exist in our community. I feel like what we decided to offer was obviously something that the community wanted.

In terms of running the retail store, I genuinely love having that interaction with customers. One of my favourite things is meeting people that are seeing the space for the first time, and watching them not really know what to expect and then being blown away. When I’m working I also really love inviting everybody to try every flavour. You know, I’ll meet someone who’s never heard of whiskey ice cream, and I just say "Oh my god you have to try absolutely everything." It’s not going to make it any easier to decide, but then at least you’ll know what your choices are!

Four All ice cream cubes by Georgette Packaging


Why did you decide to get branded packaging? Was there anything that prompted you?

Definitely. My initial focus was wholesale, so basically I was making and selling this product that had to go to other people’s freezers. I spent a lot of time going to businesses and looking at freezers, and I really got the sense that freezer space is at a premium. People don’t have a ton of freezer space, so I wanted something unique that stood out, that was well thought out and well made, to even get that wholesale business rolling. I wanted to catch customer's eye when they came in. We don’t compete on price- we’re trying to be the best in terms of what’s in the box. So to put it in generic packaging would not be putting that message across.

It was important to me to stand out, and in a smart way. There’s a few smart things about our packaging: it stacks better, it fits in people’s freezers better, the lid is attached right to the box. To me, it was about strategically standing out. We’re not wacky to be wacky, or flashy to be flashy. We would get calls from people who had never eaten our ice cream, but they were still saying "we have to carry your product."

A lot of people are attracted to our brand because of how we present ourselves, and I think part of that is our packaging. When we first started, we sold a lot of ice cream to people who hadn’t even tried our product!

 

What was the impact of branded packaging?

I think the packaging was a big draw for those people who were asking to carry our product even though they had never consumed it. I think the uniqueness of it was really important too. Having smart packaging that was really practical, and a lid that’s attached to the container, etc. I think all of those things are important- people will leave and drive 30 minutes to come check us out, so there’s something drawing them here. They are making a judgement based on what they see, before they’ve had a chance to taste our ice cream.

Four all ice cream cubes by Georgette Packaging

 

Why did you decide to work with us?

Good question! Branding was a very important part of the business for me, and probably when I first started I spent more energy and time on that than any other aspect. It’s backwards in a sense almost, but I decided that coming up with flavours was going to be secondary. For me, if I didn’t have branding strong and ready, it was going to be almost impossible to make ice cream. I was constantly thinking about “what is the messaging, what does it look like, how will it appeal.”

I worked with a local company to do design, and I asked them for someone to help with my packaging. It was important to me that they worked in the same community that I was in. So somebody suggested Georgette, I looked you guys up, and I saw the packaging you had done for Honey Bake Shop. That one was gorgeous, and having something so nice and professional made by a young, fresh, local team was important to me. I thought it would be fun as well. I met Amanda shortly after, and I felt like it was going to be a good working fit, that she was somebody I could work on a project with.

 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone launching an ice cream business?

What I’d want somebody to really nail down is to know what you’re making, really know what your product is. Especially with something like ice cream where you haven’t invented anything: it’s not new. So it’s important to know what your offer really is, and be consistent in that way. Having that clear and defined is key.


Let's talk numbers

We crunched the numbers on Instagram engagement with Four All Ice Cream cubes. Here's what we came up with:

- In an 8 month sample of customer photos which contain branding, 69% were photos of Four All packaging. In other words, almost 70% of customer photos that double as free advertisement are due to branded packaging.

 - 7 of the 9 top posts for the hashtag #fourallicecream contained Four All branding at the time this post was written! These are posts that receive the most engagement according to Instagram algorithms, and have a ton of reach.

42% of all customer photos contain branded Four All cubes!

The bottom line: branding and consistency are key to developing a product that really shines! Want to learn more about building a fantastic brand? Check out our interview with Reuben Vanderkwaak, branding superstar and owner of Donut Monster!