Branding What You Can’t See with Tom Kehoe, Head of Creative Services – Univar Solutions

Branding What You Can’t See with Tom Kehoe, Head of Creative Services – Univar Solutions

Brand Intelliegence Ep.3 Blog

Building a brand around something most people will never see.

What’s brand strategy like at a multi-billion dollar global brand? Find out as we chat with Univar’s Tom Kehoe, Head of Creative Services and Digital Communications. Listen as Tom reveals his secret weapons to B2B marketing where creativity meets chemistry, where marketing strategy transcends the tangible, and where values steer the ship. Tom Kehoe and host Tessa Court are your guides on this captivating journey, and you won’t want to miss a moment of it. As a bonus, listen as Tom reveals how he uses IntelligenceBank to conquer the intricacies and legalities of marketing compliance in a highly regulated market.  

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Episode Transcript

Tessa Court (00:04):

Welcome to the Brand Intelligence Podcast from Intelligence Bank, the show where we pull back the curtain on some of the world’s smartest brands and marketing professionals. We’ll dig into how great brand marketing is the fly will for growth, and how to manage brand compliance and governance while growing a business. I’m your co-host Tessa Court, and today we’re taking a dive into the world of branding on what you can’t see. Joining me to discuss all things B2B distribution and chemical branding will be Tom Keho, who’s actually been an Intelligence Bank client twice. Welcome, Tom.

Tom Kehoe (00:36):

Hey, great to be here. Thank you.

Tessa Court (00:38):

Before we get started in all things branding, I’d love to hear about what your theme song is. So I have a firm belief. Everyone has a theme song that sums up their life or their mood, whether overall or just for that week. Usually mine’s proud Mary, but I have to say I’ve been listening to Fast Car a lot recently by Luke Combs because I love country music and it’s kind of taking over my life right now. But I’d love to hear what your favourite song is.

Tom Kehoe (01:04):

Yeah, this was a tough one. This is a tough question to start with because I’m known as more of a music snob. Meaning, for example, if you’ve ever seen the movie High Fidelity where John Ack and Jack Black are pulling out all these obscure records and unknown deep tracks, that’s me, right? They’re pushing them out. It’s like, this is great music. Don’t listen to that. Britney Spears, this is awesome. Listen to this. This is music. Well, that’s very much how I am. So in thinking about thinking about this question, it’s going to be a deep cut that you may not have ever heard of by pretty much a deep cut band. They got a little popular off of TikTok lately, but they’re an older band. It’s a Canadian band called Mother Mother, and the song is actually called Simply Simple. Okay? Right.

Tessa Court (01:50):


Tom Kehoe (01:51):

And simply Simple. It starts out with the lyrics, take me lightly. I’m not the way I ought to be. I’m the way I got. I’ve got to be. So that really defines me though. That front statement really defines me. I’m a person that looks at life as simple and as optimistic as possible. It’s about having the simplistic view, even in a complex situation because number one, I need to process it. And number two, I need to live with it. So I break it down, I make it my own, and I go with it, and I really worked. And that’s what the small stuff,

Tessa Court (02:37):

I love that. And I have heard of the band, but I don’t know if I’ve heard of that song, but I will definitely, it’ll be on my Spotify playlist on the way in to work today. There you go. Definitely love recommendations like that. So tell me a little bit about Univar Solutions and what do you make and who do you sell to and what do you do there?

Tom Kehoe (02:57):

Yep. Univar Solutions is a company with almost a hundred years of experience and leadership with a vision to redefine distribution and be the most valued chemical and ingredients distributor on the planet. That’s our official statement. So I’m giving it to you kind of straight from the website, right? But we have partnerships with a large number of top chemical suppliers, and we sell to manufacturers in many different industries that include agriculture, beauty and personal care, pharmaceuticals, home care and industrial cleaning, water treatment, food ingredients that can go on and on. But there are a lot more,

Tessa Court (03:34):

Well, chemicals are in everything, so it’s literally in every product you can even imagine. And it’s got to get there some way fast and efficient, and probably temperature is an issue and all of those sorts of things when transporting.

Tom Kehoe (03:47):

Right? And truthfully, we were walking chemicals. They’re in our body where we’re a big chemical that walks, but even beyond distribution, Univar Solutions, we offer a full range of innovative services. We do custom blending, sustainable waste removal, and one of our biggest functions is lab and formulation services. We actually have labs that we brand as solution centres around the world where we can formulate a chemistry for a customer fully customised,

Tessa Court (04:16):

And that’s done with food. A lot of food brands will ask you to formulate new seasonings or things like that, right?

Tom Kehoe (04:22):

Oh yeah. We have a test kitchen here. I’m in the Chicago area. We have a test kitchen in Chicago. We have an executive chef on staff, many food scientists. But I can give you a great example of a formulation that is a non-customer based, actually, I was in our solution centre in Houston and went to wash my hands and the hand soap there was noticeably the best soap I’ve ever used. I’m like, the soap is unbelievable what is going on? And the feel, the smell, the effectiveness, and I looked at it and they branded it with the Universe Solutions label. And so I talked to the chemist and it’s their own formulation. It is just for them, something that they just came up with.

Tessa Court (05:05):

Yeah, that’s amazing.

Tom Kehoe (05:07):

So our lab teams, they do an excellent job customising solutions.

Tessa Court (05:11):

Well, they’re creating product, right? Like that. At the end of the day, they’re just creating unique products with different textures, smells, whatever it is. And I think what’s amazing about what you guys do, it’s obviously the logistics of that, but it’s also the creation and the innovation, but it’s across so many different categories, and that’s a really hard thing to do, is to be horizontally great versus vertically.

Tom Kehoe (05:35):

Yeah, I mean, we are so much more than a distributor. I mean, universe solutions in general. We present ourselves prominently as problem solvers, innovators, allies, and partners to our customers. And one of the unique things about universe solutions is if you need one bag of citric acid instead of a pallet, we’ll ship you a bag of citric acid, which doesn’t happen with every distributor because usually basically you have to buy in high amounts, right? We’ll take one bag of citric acid and we’ll wrap it on a pallet and ship it out to you. Right?

Listen to the full episode to see even more great conversation between Tom Kehoe and Tessa Court…

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