Kawartha Dairy's rebrand drives success with high double-digit sales growth

What if we told you we could package up that feeling… you know, the one where you walk out onto the dock on a summer night in cottage country… the slight breeze, the lapping of the water, a pleasure boat in the distance?

Kawartha Dairy has been synonymous with the Ontario cottage experience since the 1950’s when the Crowe family developed their real cream, hand scooped recipe that is still used today. Jack and Ila Crowe started the business in a small, simple three-room building where the cold storage area was cooled with ice cut from the lake. Although the business has grown exponentially, Kawartha Dairy still remains headquartered in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, with deep roots in cottage country.

In 2013, Kawartha Dairy embarked on an aggressive retail expansion strategy of their packaged ice cream that would see distribution go mostly from rural grocery and convenience stores to major grocery chains in urban centres across Ontario – and more recently Costco warehouses in Eastern Canada.

Bridgemark, Kawartha Dairy’s branding & design agency located in the GTA, was tasked with bringing the Kawartha experience to the retail shelf, tapping into the strong emotional connection consumers have with the brand. For many, it represents the arrival of summer, the ritual of stopping to pick up supplies at the local store and choosing your favorite Kawartha Dairy ice cream flavours – sometimes lining up for a scoop from the Dairy itself.

So how do you take a brand synonymous with premium hand scooped ice cream and nostalgic summer memories and translate that experience all year long to, say, a retail store shelf in Toronto?


Michael Giller, VP Account Director, Bridgemark explains, “the rebrand really tapped into the magic – pairing the story of delicious ice cream made from premium ingredients with the nostalgic memories of the summer cottage. With an iconic brand like Kawartha Dairy, strong visual equities already existed. The secret was determining which ones to leverage and how best to bring them to life in a more meaningful and emotionally compelling way.”

On pack, this is expressed through a highly recognizable identity that is authentic and approachable. Wood cut cottage scenery conveys the emotional experiences and connections of northern vacationing.

The ice cream aisle of mainstream retailers is expansive, so large beauty shots of the ingredients drive appetite appeal and speak to the quality of the products. Flavor names like Black Raspberry Thunder, Moose Tracks, and Gold Medal Ribbon, complement the images focusing in on what makes each so unique and deliciously memorable.

Shaun Dunn, Director of Sales & Marketing, Kawartha Dairy says, “Since its launch, the rebrand has created quite a buzz outside cottage country leading to significant increases in distribution into large grocers in major markets. Sales are up double digits for each of the past two years!”

The design also won Best of Show at the PAC Global Leadership Awards in 2015, and was extended across a host of flavors and formats available at a growing list of retailers.