CEO Marleen and General Manager Hans on the rebranding of Deliva

There’s something in the air at Deliva lately. Nothing new, because everyone is used to the fragrant aromas of our delicious cooking. However, there was an extra spoonful of mystery this time. The big secret was recently revealed: Deliva was given a new look. Marleen and Hans explain why it was time for a so-called rebranding, and how this was done.

Can you tell us more about the history of Deliva?

Marleen: “Actually, the company has been around since the 1980s. I started it with my then husband and expanded it. We went our separate ways in 2017 and I took over all the shares. We changed course completely. A completely new management team was put in place, among others things, and our company culture also changed significantly. Whereas we previously had a top down structure, we switched to a much horizontal organisation. This is how we came to be the company that Deliva is today.”

How has Deliva developed over the years?
Hans: “Since we were already active in the traditional hospitality and events sector, we needed a centralised kitchen. It would allow us to know exactly what we were serving at our different locations, and better manage our activities. We then decided to focus entirely on catering, and Traiteur Herman, Herman Horeca, and Horeservi Catering were born. And finally Umami. The latter is Deliva’s biggest customer right now. Of course, we are intertwined, but autonomous at the same time. This is also the case with Clean Minds. We reinforce each other, but each also focuses on external customers.”


Marleen: “Today we have about 650 employees. A large number of these are permanent employers. We often call on temporary staff at peak times. Although there is little in the way of peak and off-peak after corona. Finding the right employees is quite a challenge nowadays. After all, the tasks in our company require some specialised skills, such as hygiene, safety, and efficiency. And for catering, an employee also has to be customer-friendly. Candidates have to meet a considerable set of requirements.”

Why was it time for a rebranding?

Hans: “We set out with a very important thinking exercise. As a company, you have to ask yourself questions from time to time. Why do customers choose us? What are our strengths? How can we make the most of these strengths? Are there things we should abandon? Sometimes you have to be brave enough to shoot from the other hip. Work on professionalisation. We had enough in-house capacity to think along with us. Progressive insight soon taught us that our previous branding no longer reflected who we are today. It was time to re-establish our identity. Actually, you don't want to waste too many words on it, you want to demonstrate it as a company. It was the same when we undertook our first rebranding in 2014.”

What was important in this process? What did you particularly focus on?

Hans: “We wanted our new corporate brand to radiate who we are and what we stand for. We are a very down-to-earth company. We’re not into pomp and too many frills. It is important we distinguish ourselves, but we will never shout it from the rooftops. Especially in the social media era, authenticity and reliability are much more important.”


Marleen: “I think it turned out really great. The marketing agency SirFish was genuinely able to capture our values and translate them into appealing images.”

Some of your employees are starring in the campaign images. This hasn’t been done before - how important is it for you to show the people behind Deliva and the production process? 
Hans: “Really, the entire campaign revolves around one thing: our people. We are modest enough to realise that Deliva has grown into what it is today thanks to them. Your company needs people with the necessary knowledge and expertise. And if these people also enjoy being here and want to collaborate, you can achieve an awful lot.”


Marleen: “Growth is achieved when everyone - as a team - rolls up their sleeves for the company. We often work for large organisations, such as asylum shelters, the Red Cross, the Flemish government, etc. We can respond extremely quickly and flexibly to their requests because each department is willing to collaborate and assume its responsibility. That’s why it is extremely important that everyone realises their tasks contribute to the bigger picture. Isn’t it great to be able to say: ‘thanks to my work, the people who are less fortunate will be eating a nice meal soon.’ Everyone is a link in the process, so everyone’s tasks are important.”

The first part of the rebranding was a new brand identity and slogan. 'Full steam ahead' became a powerful statement with longevity potential. What does it stand for?
Hans: "We can certainly say that we can achieve things at a speed that many companies cannot. Many employees will recognise themselves in our slogan in combination with the images, once they see it. We don’t like beating around the bush, endless discussions or unnecessary meetings. If there’s something going on, we put our cards on the table so that everyone can help find a solution. It saves time and speeds us up, naturally. The results are noticeable both internally and for our customers.”


Marleen: “Our great strength is anticipation. We always try to counter any difficulties or issues in advance. That is why it is important that the people who do not work on this site also remain closely involved. That’s why they regularly spend the day here. It means the contact between the employees and the different departments is always warm and approachable.”

Was it a conscious decision to use English at work?

Hans: “Yes. From a commercial point of view, because it allows us to attract international customers, but also for the employees. We are and always will be a multicultural company.”

What elements were important for the visual rebranding, if any? 
Marleen: “We wanted a fresh, contemporary look.”

Hans: “Branding for a company in the food sector used to be a chef with the tallest possible chef’s hat and a cauldron. (laughs) Now, the look and feel is much more important. You have to pique people’s interest, so that they take some time to find out more. They may be potential customers or employees. The message has to come across clearly, without overkill.”



The new style is much more modern and contemporary, but still flavourful. How important was this balance?

Marleen: "We are a development centre and our challenge is to translate fresh ingredients into semi-industrial preparations. Preparations that are tasty and have a long shelf-life, too. Industrial kitchens have a slightly negative image as it is, and we want to disprove that. We start with ultra-fresh products, and prepare those in a very honest way, without bad additives. We want to emanate that.”

Hans: “A lot of time was spent on defining the campaign. We wanted to emphasise our creativity and human aspect, but what we do also needed to be very clear. Sous vide technology remains our core business, so customers should understand that at a glance.”


Did you try the ‘herb explosion’ in the campaign photos yourselves? 
In unison: “No!”

Marleen: “I think they had a great understanding of what they could and couldn’t ask us to do.”

Hans: “There are more photogenic people than us in the company!”

How do you see Deliva’s future? Where will you be in a few years’ time?

Marleen: “We have already considered various expansion routes, but despite all the wild plans: we have to make full use of what we have here first. Only then can we possibly start thinking about internationalisation. For example, I believe there’s a very big market in Germany.”


Hans: “There are two ways to internationalise: production capacity and customers. The trick is to make full use of our production capacity here, instead of building new factories here and there. This way, we stay very reactive and keep perfect control over our activities. I see the future as follows: further professionalisation, maximum use of our capacity, and investment if necessary. This is the perfect cocktail for profit, which we can use for further optimisation. We are continuing to grow post-corona, and now it’s about letting this growth pay off. We won’t be doing crazy things, but we are open to opportunities.”

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