Summer may be winding down but the Good Humor truck is here to stay. The popular ice cream maker you might remember from such frozen hits as Strawberry Shortcake, Toasted Almond and Chocolate Eclair launched a rebrand earlier this year. It will adorn snack cart umbrellas, swimming pool menus and packages in the freezer aisle. But where’s the heart?
Good Humor has a rich history of ice cream innovation dating back to its incorporation in the 1920s. It was an independent company until it was acquired by Unilever in 1989. Several years later, Unilever folded Good Humor into their Heartbrand quilt — a product line sold in over 40 countries.
The efficiencies of distributing dozens of ice cream brands around the world under one logo are obvious. Simply pick a name—palatable to your market—and voilą: a crisp, reputable ice cream brand with a vague message of health and optimism. I’ve always liked this logo and I’ll be sad to see it go. The mark is nicely drawn and the type is, for the most part, contemporary and well set. Unilever would not comment on the specific reason for the rebrand, but I can think of a couple. It’s possible that the refined heartbrand logo with its international sensibilities was translating into poor consumer sales in North America. It’s also conceivable that Unilever is dressing up Good Humor for resale; packing the truck up for its last loop around the neighborhood. In any case, it seems to be time for Good Humor to break free.
As far as the new brand is concerned, I can certainly respect their approach. You can’t blame a brand like Good Humor for reaching back into its heritage. Although it no longer operates a fleet of trucks (Good Humor ice cream is distributed by a hodge podge of independent vendors and grocery stores), Good Humor is collectively remembered for its vehicles, service and nostalgic place in Americana. The new logo is appropriately old fashioned, competently assembled and extremely boring. The type arrangement is stale. The illustration is relevant but diminutive and forgettable.
The integration of the new logo into their packaging is nonexistent, but that can be forgiven—this was obviously a hasty retrofit. What cannot be forgiven is Good Humor’s consistent failure, over the years, to establish any meaningful visual equity. For a brand that people seem to be quite fond of, there is a notable lack of a visual bond between their customers and their ice cream.
The best application I have seen so far is this umbrella I walked by just outside Central Park. In its one-color application on a real, tangible material, you get a small glimpse of a brand with a story to tell. Hopefully this logo will stick around long enough to mean something to someone.