When Adam Mason took over as director general of CEDA 2 years ago, one of the first things he noted was that he believes the Catering Equipment Distributors Association is not “an accurate or dynamic enough brand name to be marketing the membership of CEDA”.
Detailing that the definition of a distributor is ‘a wholesaler or middleman engaged in the distribution of a category of goods’, he commented: “If you are solely a ‘distributor’ you cannot be a member of CEDA. The membership is made up of the most professional, innovative and creative companies in the industry. They design, install and project manage the most stunning foodservice and hospitality facilities, and maintain catering equipment with the most exceptional service levels.”
Therefore as part of the wide-ranging CEDA 22 for 2022 strategy, last year the association commissioned post-graduate marketing masters student Laura Gimferrer from the University of Coventry to carry out branding research and report on the findings.
Mason explained: “The purpose of the project was to ensure that as an association we were reflective of the membership and industry that we serve, as well as to ensure that we had relevance in who we were, what we delivered and how we projected ourselves. There were no pre-determined ideas and we quite deliberately used third party expertise from outside the industry where necessary.”
The research comprised examining all members’ websites to see how they term themselves and the industry, a series of face to face interviews with members, a membership survey, plus using the Trade Association Forum (the trade association for trade associations), and end user associations to examine associations operating in other sectors to glean best-practice ideas for branding and marketing.
The initial website reviews highlighted 24 different services that CEDA members offered and 20 different industries they described themselves as working in.
45% of members describe themselves as ‘specialists’ on their websites. This was further corroborated during interviews. Adding the words ‘experienced’, ‘experts’ and ‘leader’ took that figure to over 60% of the membership. Perhaps most surprisingly, just 4.1% described themselves as ‘catering equipment distributors’ on their websites, therefore 89% do not think that the term accurately describes their business.
Results also showed the CEDA membership is not just focused on commercial kitchens – 40% of their business is represented by the servery area and front of house. Furthermore, 70% market and promote themselves differently, depending on the sector that they are working in or targeting, while 89% want CEDA to represent and promote them to their customers.
Following these results, CEDA engaged marketing agency Creation ADM to channel the feedback into action. Several rebranding options were considered, but eventually CEDA concluded that the way forward was to formally remain as the Catering Equipment Distributors Association but adopt the trading name of CEDA.
Mason explained: “So, C-E-D-A stands for what we want it to stand for. This retains all that is good and positive about our existing identity but provides an opportunity to contemporise, refocus objectives and marketing messages.”
This meant re-designing the logo and branding, with the new strapline now reading: “Connecting Our Industry. Design Projects Equipment”.
According to Mason: “The aim is to be more contemporary, more professional and more reflective of our membership. The logo and straplines are one thing, but the real value will be in how we create and develop the brand – the messages we deliver and the manner in which we deliver them. We believe we connect our industry and we want to enhance that for all areas of the supply chain.”
As the membership is very diverse, CEDA and Creation ADM then further developed a marketing toolkit to allow individual members to promote themselves in their own unique way. Logos were developed to reflect being a CEDA-approved design, projects or equipment specialist in the foodservice, hospitality, catering equipment or equipment service spheres.
“The rebrand gives members the opportunity to actively use their CEDA membership to better promote themselves to their customers and potential customers – it gives them more stories to tell,” said Mason.
“It shows that they are involved with a progressive association that truly represents their businesses to the entire supply chain. The value will come in the campaigns that CEDA undertakes that will absolutely enhance and elevate members as will their own individual marketing activities.”
Furthermore, with 89% of respondents to the customers survey wanting to work with specialists, Mason added: “I see the array and quality of services offered and the scope of the marketplace in which they operate as a great strength of the membership. The individuality and uniqueness of member companies is wonderful because it mirrors the individuality and uniqueness of their customer bases perfectly.
“We have to reflect that and we have to allow members to reflect that – the uniformity comes from the fact that they are specialists in what they do. We will promote everything that our members do – and we have given members the power to promote themselves in the most appropriate manner according to their business.”
He emphasised: “This is not just a change of logo. It’s a brand, an identity and a culture. It requires our code of practice, customer charter and membership criteria to be developed and enhanced. But what it breeds is opportunity. The opportunity for CEDA and CEDA members together to market and promote themselves in a new, innovative, creative, flexible and exciting way – no longer bound by the shackles of ‘distributor’.”
Mason is looking forward to the new direction attracting additional members too. “Hopefully more companies will be able to see the value that we provide our members and the wider industry. Hopefully, they can see a progressive, relevant association that can support all of their commercial aims and objectives and want to be a part of it.”
He concluded: “We want to continue our growth of course and we are actively talking with a good number of prospective members who will all add value to the association. The re-branding project is only a part of our development plan – we have things in the pipeline that will be even more significant and fundamental.”