Traditions matter, and so does the Dilly Bar nose

Picture yourself as a nine year old trying to look over the counter at the local Dairy Queen. You’re excited because Dad has brought you and your brothers for a classic treat — a Dilly Bar.

Dad loved to take us four brothers regularly. The picture is clear in my mind but it seems like Dairy Queen has recently jabbed two daggers into my heart when a recent trip for ice cream I noticed that the Dilly Bar nose was gone and so was my chance to win a free Dilly Bar at my next visit.

Traditions matter. This is all too familiar to us this weekend as we celebrate the birth of the United States of America. The stars and the stripes, the hot dogs and the dazzle of lights at sunset. It feels good doesn’t it? You know why, because traditions matter.

Traditions bring out the child in all of us. They remind us of how we grew up and tradition is something that writers and marketing professionals live and breathe.

Think of the Dilly Bar. For me, I felt like I was looking at a familiar face everytime I had it in my hand. It was the nose. The famous Dairy Queen curl seen at the top of cones and in the candy coated shell on a Dilly Bar. Today, the nose is gone. Like most mass produced items, Dilly Bars are a little more plain and have a little less character.

Also gone is the stamp on the Dilly Bar stick with the message “Free Dilly Bar”. You couldn’t see it until you were done with your cold treat, making it something to look forward to and a surprise that brought a smile.

Marketing professionals look to tradition when developing brands, print designs and new looks for companies. It is a way to show respect to customers who have a level of expectation from their favorite brands. Think of the Walt Disney Company. Mickey Mouse today looks relevant and contemporary. Look up a picture of him in his first stages of development in the late 1920s. He looked relevant and contemporary for his time and his audience. Mickey needed to change but yet he still stayed the same.

Customers are always looking for something new, even from an organization which they have felt loyalty for several years. As marketing campaigns are developed, the risk should be taken with moderation, striking a balance of the new with the familiar.

The Dilly Bar nose seems like a small detail but it managed to bring up emotions and a smile to at least this ice cream fan. I can’t win a free Dilly Bar today, but I can remember the times Dad took us four brothers to have a classic treat, and on this Fourth of July weekend that tradition is alive and well in my memory.

Originally published at on July 3, 2015.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.