The Unseen Brand: How Central Smith Thrives by Building Its Clients’ Brands

Jul 10, 2018 | Branding Strategies, Sticky Brands

The hardest brand to promote is one that makes other brands the hero.

This is the case for Central Smith, one of Canada’s largest ice cream manufacturers. You may have never heard of the company, but if you’ve had dessert in a Canadian restaurant you’ve likely eaten their ice cream.

Central Smith’s products are prolific, but the brand flies completely under the radar. Unless you visit their scoop shop in Peterborough, which I highly encourage, you won’t see their logo. Restaurants don’t feature it on menus, and retail brands don’t tell you they’re co-packing with Central Smith.

Central SmithNow, I don’t want you to think of this brand as a contract or “white label” manufacturer, because that’s not the case. Central Smith has an awesome brand. For instance, their tagline is one of the best in the business, “We Dream In Ice Cream.”

More importantly, they produce high quality, great tasting ice cream. I am biased, because Central Smith is a client. But I’m also a foodie who loves ice cream.

Back to the branding challenge. Central Smith has a branding challenge that many B2B companies experience. They operate in the background and make their clients’ brands the heroes. That’s what they do best.

Jenn Scates, VP of Marketing for Central Smith explains, “Central Smith comes to the table fully prepared to work with our partners, our clients. And that’s the thing that separates us from everyone else.”

Many food companies focus on their products, their systems, and their brands. For instance, it’s commonplace to make scoop shops feature signage and labels indicating this “ice cream brand” is served here. Central Smith takes a different approach.

“We believe our customers are our partners, and it’s our job to make them successful,” says Jenn. “We don’t impose our brand on them. We partner with our clients: from R&D and product development, to creating house brands, as well as deep integration of our supply chains.”

Central Smith Ice CreamAs a result, Central Smith’s customers are large, loyal, and successful. The partnerships work, because they are harmonious and win-win.

Central Smith has an incredible industry reputation and brand for three key reasons. And I think these reasons can be applied to almost any B2B brand flying under the radar:

  • Positioned to win: Central Smith has strong positioning and core messaging. They know where they play and how they win, and that’s reflected in their sales, marketing, and operations.
  • Be so good they can’t ignore you: Central Smith’s products are simply delightful. They rise to the top in every taste test. More importantly, the company has built its operations, team, and systems to serve clearly defined markets in food service and co-packing. Ice cream could be considered a commodity, but Central Smith’s service, flexibility, systems, and product innovation are hard (if not impossible) to replicate.
  • It’s always about people: Building a brand based on partnerships is intrinsically human. Jenn says, “Customer service, flexibility, and responsiveness are core values of our team. We are completely committed to our clients’ success.”

This leads to the heart of why Central Smith has such a good brand. Successful businesses create great brands, and never the other way around. There’s absolutely no way people would admire a brand if the company was unsuccessful.

Central Smith stands out in the food service and co-packing categories, because it partners with its clients and makes their brands the heroes. This creates a relationship and a partnership that’s hard to beat.

So I encourage you to experience the brand. National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday, July 15, 2018. Go out and get an ice cream cone. And if you’re in Canada, ask your local scoop shop or restaurant which brands they’re serving. Chances are they’ll have Central Smith on hand, and you can discover why so many food services and co-packing companies choose Central Smith first for their ice cream.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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