NICE, FRANCE — With 100 years already under its belt, AIB International is taking steps to not only secure its prominent position in the food and beverage industry but to forge a new path for the next 100 years and beyond.
The Manhattan, Kansas, U.S.-based provider of inspections, consulting, training, research and development and certification services on Feb. 26 rolled out a new brand during the GFSI Conference in Nice.
In an interview with Milling & Baking News, a sister publication of World Grain, Andre Biane, president and chief executive officer of AIB International, and Katie Mayes, vice-president of marketing and product development, discussed the thought process behind the brand relaunch and how they expect the changes to benefit the broader food and beverage industry.
“Our centennial presented a grand opportunity for us to take a step back and ask the marketplace, from their perspective, what does AIB International stand for, what do they see as our areas of expertise and what are they looking from us for the future,” Biane said.
Biane said AIB International spent six months on research and analysis and then another few months considering the impact of rebranding. AIB International and its research partner talked to more than 400 individuals, encompassing a broad cross section of domestic and international food and beverage industry and category segments.
“We went into the project knowing that we wanted a better understanding of the marketplace and how they see what we do, to ultimately determine how much brand equity we had in the marketplace,” Mayes said. “The research was really to point us in one direction or the other as to whether we needed to rebrand, and if we were going to what that looked like. We didn’t necessarily go into the project saying, ‘We need to rebrand.’ We needed to hear from the marketplace (about) what brand equity we had, and also how we could better align who we are as a company with the needs of the industry.”
The response from the marketplace was that AIB International’s name continues to resonate, though there were some surprises.
“What was surprising was that many long-term people in the baking industry had a very narrow perception of us and the services that we provide,” Biane said. “Some would link us just to the baking residence course and a couple other baking seminars. And others would think of us along the lines of all the inspections we do, but not see the whole portfolio.
“This gave us the opportunity to do a reset with the entire food industry because we’re much more than just baking centric. I know from my interactions with the board … they saw this as well. When they saw the feedback and interpretation, they were totally on board that this is the direction that we need go.”
Biane said feedback from domestic and international customers showed a desire for AIB International to serve as an ally, helping to guide companies through regulations while working to improve the quality and integrity of products.
It was those discussions with customers that steered the organization toward the development of a new logo and brand. Biane described the logo as a compass, with two needles pointing in different directions. Like a compass, AIB International aims to navigate and provide guidance to its customers, he said.
But AIB International’s rebranding is much more than just a new logo. The company also has recrafted its mission statement.
“Very simply, it’s to have a positive impact on the food supply chain every single day,” Biane said. “We firmly believe that everybody deserves safe, high-quality food. So, with that, our vision is to inspire the entire food industry to take their operations to the highest reasonable standards that are in the marketplace. It’s all around food integrity.”
Biane said AIB International intends to “leverage from a great history.”
“Our story started with the baking industry and has expanded into the broader food industry,” he explained. “We still have our core. We do a lot of baking training, a lot of R&D work. We do a lot that has to do with both public and private projects. But over the course of time, things have changed.”
Mayes said one thing that will change going forward is AIB International will speak more directly to the needs of the different industry segments it serves. AIB International has classified its services into four categories: inspection and consulting (which includes food safety inspections, food manufacturing and supply chain consulting, bakery consulting); training (bakery and food safety training); R&D services (lab testing services, food labeling); and certification.
“These four buckets are designed so that as we understand the needs of our clients better, we can expand our services pretty easily and still explain clearly how we serve the industry,” she said. “This is all completely based on the research and what the industry told us they wanted.”
All in all, Biane said he believes the brand launch sets AIB International up well for the future.
“That’s the intent, absolutely,” he said. “It’s because we did such in-depth work. Our partner that helped us through all this provided their experience in brand research and brand rebranding. I feel very strongly that this gives a foundation for many, many, many years.”
To support the brand launch AIB International will be hosting an open house later this fall in Manhattan and also intends to have a substantial presence at the IBIE show scheduled for Sept. 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.