Tesser designs Ben & Jerry's flagship store in Tokyo

Tesser designs Ben & Jerry’s flagship store in Tokyo

New Store Swirls 1960s Euphoria with a Dash of Tech Café for an Authentic American Experience

SAN FRANCISCO—When Ben & Jerry’s opened its doors on the famous tree-lined Omotesando Boulevard in Tokyo on April 14, Japanese customers got a taste of the past and a look at the future. To capture that unique Ben & Jerry’s design and vibe, Ben & Jerry’s selected Tesser, the San Francisco Big Picture Branding Company, who created the 30th Anniversary design concept for the iconic ice cream company’s flagship store in Burlington, Vt., to repeat its success in Tokyo.

"It was like making a great flavor that's perfectly balanced," said Ellen Kresky, director of creativity at Ben & Jerry’s, "Tesser was able to fold Ben & Jerry's history into contemporary culture to bring the Ben & Jerry's vibe alive."

Tesser’s biggest challenge in designing the first Ben & Jerry’s location in Japan was to build a brand presence in an overstimulated city. Tokyo, which is home to roughly 13 million people and is positioned as one of the command centers for the global economy, is an important market to build brand awareness for Ben & Jerry’s worldwide. The flagship store, with its street-facing entrance framed by Tokyo’s premiere shopping mall, Omotesand Hills, by architect Tadao Ando, will be key to establishing Ben & Jerry’s as a quality experience with Japanese consumers.

Tesser worked closely with Ben & Jerry’s U.S. and Japanese marketing teams to fully understand the culture and preferences of Japanese consumers. Tesser learned that they want a fun, inviting atmosphere where they can have an authentic Ben & Jerry’s experience.

“We focused on every touchpoint of the customer’s journey to introduce Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and its strong, voice and history,” said Tré Musco, CEO and chief creative officer at Tesser.

With a smaller footprint than the flagship scoop shop in Vermont, Tesser also had to be very strategic in showcasing what makes Ben & Jerry’s different—its quality ice cream with unique “chunks and swirls,” and its heritage of two real guys with a passion for “Peace, Love & Ice Cream.”

“We created digital menu boards in Japanese and English to inform customers on the popular U.S. flavors and the Japan exclusive flavors made at the store,” said Musco. “The digital menu boards also will be used to reinforce the quality message.”

To engage Japanese customers in the company’s unique ice cream-making process, Tesser and Ben & Jerry’s created a Flavor Lab with open views into the kitchen so customers could see how Ben & Jerry’s creates its far out flavors.

In keeping with the U.S. flagship décor that paid homage to the founders’ hippie days, Tesser installed the front end of a 1960s van on the wall with the windows replaced by video screens, a grass green couch with “rolling hills” backrest, funky milk bottle light fixtures and a “flavor curtain,” made from actual ice cream pint lids. Customers can read the company’s three-part Social, Product and Economic Missions painted on the walls ( Merchandise is displayed on a five-foot ice cream cone structure with shelves for t-shirts, mugs and other Ben & Jerry’s gift items. Seating is comfortable and invitingly sleek and modern with galvanized bar stools and ottomans covered in vinyl cowhide fabric that mix the modern urban feel with the retro farmhouse vibe. Round and rectangular tables give a relaxed café environment to the scoop shop and invite customers to linger and socialize.

Adding to the community’s euphoria, Tesser incorporated social media into the design to enhance the communal experience of eating ice cream. A live Twitter Ticker runs above the Flavor Lab window, enticing customers to tweet and view posts from others while enjoying what Americans have loved for over 30 years—great ice cream.

For more information on Tesser’s innovative work, visit
Since 1993, Tesser has been building powerful brands by focusing on the big picture: 360 degrees of uncompromised thinking on branding and integrated design. As strategic consultants, designers, and branding experts, Tesser helps clients create both long-term brand value and highly effective design programs.

Tesser provides a unique mix of strategy, naming and verbal branding, corporate identity, retail design, merchandising, packaging and menu board design.

Based in San Francisco, Tesser’s clients include Wendy’s, Denny’s, KFC, Ben & Jerry’s, Chili’s, Del Taco, Williamson-Dickie (makers of Dickies workwear), Cost Plus World Market, Musco Family Olive Co., Popeyes, Baja Fresh and more.