These values and benefits are further elevated by KeHE’s recently unveiled new website and forward-looking approach to digital that prompted the distributor to test virtual conferences and showcases before the pandemic to save its partners time and money and give them a “sneak peek” at emerging brands that have promise but might not have funds yet to travel and sample extensively.
Together, the new logo, website and emphasis on digital operational solutions underscore KeHE’s approach to the marketplace and its desire to partner with the best-in-class suppliers and leading-edge retailers, Ari Goldsmith, vice president of marketing at KeHE, told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained that KeHE chose to add the Crazy Good moniker to its existing “Where KeHE Goes, Goodness Follows” tagline because “crazy is an extreme modifier, like uber or obsessed or passionately. It tells you that we are wildly obsessed with be good.”
And ‘good’ means a lot of things to KeHE, Goldsmith added, explaining: “It really is about being good at our innovation and product assortment, good at being an extension of our retailers’ teams and good at diving new suppliers to the marketplace.”
These values are symbolized in the stylized font of ‘crazy,’ which denotes imperfection and humble authenticity as well as the idea that while KeHE takes its work seriously, it doesn’t take itself too seriously – preferring to hold its suppliers and retailers out “front and forward” as “heros,” Goldsmith said.
Likewise, “the yellow band that goes delicately around the outside [of the logo] is not continuous” to symbolize “where good breaks through the boundary” and to show “there is no restraint on the goodness that KeHE can provide in everyday aspiration, including servitude and product assortment,” she added.
Finally, she noted, the encircled logo is “kicked off to the side at a 26 degree orientation to show the sky is limit and the forward momentum … like wheels in motion” that are a nod to how “we are always driving and striving for goodness.”
KeHE’s commitment to “Crazy Good” goes beyond the logo, as demonstrated by its brand champion training that it provided every employee so that they understand the company’s values and can apply them to the “transforming needs of our partners and ever changing needs of what their consumers are looking at,” she added.
New logo tips hat to KeHE’s expanded reach, product selection
The new rebrand comes after a year of significant growth and challenges as KeHE, along with other players across the industry, grappled with and adjusted to the new demands of the pandemic.
“For us Crazy Good really gets to the growth we saw over the last year,” which included expanding into new channels and categories and adding more than 1,200 new brands to is portfolio, Goldsmith said.
She explained that as part of KeHE’s “passion to continue to provide the very best,” the distributor also developed new contactless solutions, new innovations and technologies to help with item replacement for out-of-stocks and creating new digital buying opportunities.
These included a shift in September 2019 to virtual shows, which helped it finetune its digital approach so that during its virtual show in June it generated record breaking sales that surpassed every other show in the distributor’s history, Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith explained that KeHE’s decision to go virtual before the pandemic forced the rest of the industry to do so was grounded in negative feedback from suppliers and retailers about the sheer number of food shows that required extensive travel and expense before the lockdown orders went into effect.
“Using that weakness or opportunity, however you look at it, within the industry allowed us to think about how KeHE could better partner with its suppliers and retailers to fix that modern day conundrum of too much to do and not enough time,” Goldsmith said, emphasizing the change was all about customer experience.
Lessons learned to improve virtual connections
Some of the lessons KeHE learned from its first virtual show that helped it improve its next were that while people wanted education – they didn’t want to give up their lunch every day for a week. And so, the second go-around, KeHE created a 30 minute trendspotting session at the opening of the show that attendees could watch together or on their own and then focused on networking and connections for the remainder of the show.
Also, she said, KeHE learned most attendees want a multi-model experience that blends content, best practices, education, and training but in different formats so that they could pick the one best suited to their learning style and available resources. For example, the distributor might offer an eight minute video and a fast fact sheet that cover the same information.
Another lesson learned was that industry wanted sponsorship opportunities or ways that they could better pop off the digital page – something KeHE didn’t initially offer but added for following virtual events at the request of stakeholders.
Looking forward, Goldsmith said KeHE will continue to learn from and build on its digital capabilities “to be the next generation innovation distributor” and offering “best in class innovation.” It also will continue to address challenges that arose during the pandemic and reinforce solutions to reduce risk going forward.