To celebrate 80 years of history and tradition, ice cream concept Carvel is turning to its roots to strengthen its brand identity and appeal to the modern consumer. The quick serve unveiled a refreshed store design that highlights its strongest product offerings and draws customers in with its iconic red color.

“The industry is ever changing; there are a lot of new competitors coming out,” says Scott Colwell, president of Carvel. “Everybody offers some cold or frozen sweet treat now.”

With the rise of the frozen yogurt segment and snack offerings, Carvel saw increased competition, he says. Brand executives decided to charge forward with a new look centered on what Carvel does best: fresh ice cream and ice cream cakes.

“We’ve focused back in on what our core product offering is,” Colwell says. “The big difference with Carvel is that we’re real ice cream—we position the brand as ‘America’s Freshest Ice Cream,’ and consumers are looking for that freshness. All of our ice cream is made in our shops each day.”

To highlight its hand-scooped and soft-serve products, Carvel’s new design includes new dipping cabinets and a topping bar. A new display case features better lighting so consumers are drawn to the variety, Colwell says. New menu boards are a combination of backlit LED boards and digital displays that promote “high-appeal products at different dayparts,” he adds.

As the brand is also know for its ice cream cakes, which include holiday specialty cakes and customizable options, brand executives wanted to spotlight that part of Carvel’s menu with a new display case, too.

“A lot of our customers have memories of growing up and celebrating birthdays with us, so we put a lot of emphasis on our iconic cakes,” Colwell says.

Beyond the new fixtures, Carvel enlisted the help of a design firm to simplify the aesthetic, which now revolves around the brand’s original Carvel red.

“We used to have a lot of color we took out; we really built it around Carvel red with white accents,” Colwell says. “It simplified the design a lot, and that’s what consumers are looking for today.”

The redesign is coupled with an updated logo that features the brand name in the same script font as before, but it is offset by an ice cream cone illustration. The new logo and design will serve as the blue print for future store openings, and Carvel plans to add 20 units in this year. These units are split between the brand’s traditional standalone stores and express shoppes, which are typically in nontraditional locations or in cobranded restaurants and only feature ice cream.

“We do plan to, over the number of years, go into existing shops and remodel them to have the same look,” Colwell says. “We haven’t lost any of our heritage, but it looks current.”

By Tamara Omazic

Design, Desserts, News, Restaurant Operations, Carvel Ice Cream