When global delivery giant UPS needed to compete against juggernauts like FedEx and DHL in order to maintain its share of the marketplace, UPS re-branded itself through its "What Can Brown Do For You?" multi-media campaign.
That bold and imaginative marketing initiative didn't go unnoticed by Robert Friedman, owner of Garden City Park, N.Y.-based Coffee Distributing Corp. (CDC). Now, CDC, a market leader in the tri-state OCS marketplace, is re-branding itself so that it, too, can stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Re-branding is no easy task, especially for a well established company. CDC already enjoyed a history of success,customer good will, and name recognition. To totally re-brand would mean changing, potentially throwing away much that already worked, investing an exorbitant amount, and running the risk of losing the already existing customer base.
Friedman, having been raised in the business launched by his father in 1963, knew that for a company to succeed in the long-term, it was necessary to constantly reinvest. As OCS competition increased over the years and customers became more educated and demanding, he knew he had to move the company forward or suffer the consequences of a more demanding and competitive marketplace.
Friedman believed he needed to re-brand the company to accomplish this ambitious goal.
Hence, he decided to take the company's solid foundation that he and his family had established over the past 43 years and implement subtle changes to create an even more powerful message.
Times had certainly changed since the company's early days, when only a small handful of OCS providers serviced the business community's coffee-break needs, and the Manhattan and Long Island marketplace offered a seemingly endless supply of customers.
In those early years, prior to 1980, the company's main source of new business, other than referrals, was direct mail advertising.
From the 1970s to the mid 1990s, CDC capitalized on a series of acquisitions that propelled the company into becoming a major contender in the region. Friedman now has satellite facilities in New York and New Jersey, a workforce of over 250, and a fleet of over 80 delivery trucks and vans.
Internally, Friedman built employee loyalty by offering medical benefits, profit-sharing plans, and incentive programs.
Externally, he expanded its product lines into the food services industry, developed its own private labels for coffees and bottled water, and secured exclusive rights to market consumer brands of coffee, including Lavazza and Timothy's. These consumer brands helped lure office workers away from going out to coffee houses, providing incentive for them to stay in the office instead.
A more challenging day for OCS
At the start of the new millennium, a multitude of factors began to change the landscape of the OCS industry. The biggest change was that the demand for OCS exploded. Coffee had come into vogue in America in the 1700s, but since then it had faded into the simple routine of people's lives. All of a sudden, "brown gold" once again became the rage.
Coffee bars such as Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee, charging over $3 a cup, were opening on street corners and shopping malls across the U.S.
The OCS industry was slow to adapt to the new coffee market, but a minority of far-sighted operators, such as Friedman, were exploiting the demand for single-cup systems that offered coffee house quality coffee in the work place.
Expansion into new services creates challenges
Friedman also looked to broaden the company's services, giving the company a chance to reap more revenue from existing customers.
Expanding into the foodservice and vending sectors carried the risk of diluting the company's focus. OCS, after all, was becoming more of a specialty, and serious players needed to be on top of their craft.
Friedman recognized that to expand into new services and at the same time maintain his reputation as a top OCS player, he needed to communicate what his company was to the public. He decided it was time for a re-branding.