*This story first appeared in The Budget’s May 30, 2018, Local Edition.
By Josh Yoder
For more than 80 years, Heini’s Cheese has made a name for itself in an area full of cheese producers. Recently, the big cheesemakers have gotten back to marketing basics, dropping the name from their in-store packaging in favor of their original and corporate name, Bunker Hill Cheese.
The local company, still in the Dauwalder family, started out as the Bunker Hill Cheese Co-op in the 1920s, officially becoming Bunker Hill Cheese in 1935 when
brothers John and Crist joined together to take on the Amish country cheese market. In 2018, the tradition that has long been sitting behind the Heini’s name is back at the face of the company.
“Aside from the name, our company has always had a strong commitment to supporting our local dairy farmers, buying the milk from which our cheese is made from local family farms right here in Ohio,” said Marketing Director Gabriel O’Brien.
The use of the Heini’s name was initiated in 1962. According to O’Brien, the decision to rebrand was driven by the company’s ongoing efforts to expand the brand nationally, as well as modernize the packaging with a united theme that is not only simple but easy to identify.
“The Heini’s name has a strong association regionally but isn’t recognized outside of this area, and to anyone who’s ever been to the Chalet, simply, sounds funny,” O’Brien said. “It simply made sense to shift back to using the original name.”
Strong branding is a very important asset to a company in the competitive food market. When one peruses the cheese case at a local grocer, there is an array of shapes and colors jumping to catch the customer’s eye. O’Brien’s in-house graphic designer, Ricky Rocha, worked with the marketing team to create a bold, dynamic packaging that O’ Brien thinks “really stands out in the retail sales spaces.”
This spring, retailers who had the chance to see early previews have reacted very positively to the company’s changes.
“‘This may be the smartest thing you’ve ever done,’ is something we’ve heard a lot of, and if it’s indicative of our future, things look bright indeed,” O’Brien said.
While a name change can seem like a significant change for the company, the practices and values that have made Bunker Hill Cheese an institution have not.
According to O’Brien, the response from longtime loyal customers have also been supportive, and the company has, in fact, reached a wider customer base that hasn’t previously been provided for, such as individuals placing higher importance on athletic lifestyles and the Ketogenic dietary movement.
The Heini’s Cheese Chalet in Bunker Hill will retain its name as well as popularity amongst the flow of tourists on the east side of Berlin.
Bunker Hill will continue to work with small family farms to make its cheeses that include flavors such as blue moon and garden vegetable yogurt. Those relationships are a key ingredient to making consistently excellent cheese products.