Case Study: Shikatani Lacroix creates coherent brand identity for the voice of foodservice in Canada


Case Study by Jean Pierre Lacroix RGD, President, Shikatani Lacroix Design Inc. (SLD)


Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2014, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) embarked on a new era under a new strategic plan that included changing the association’s name and brand identity. Shikatani Lacroix designed and directed the new branding program. 


SLD worked with the organization, which represents over 30,000 members, to develop the full scope of a new brand including a new name, logo and tagline, ultimately arriving at a whole new experience for the Association’s members: Restaurants Canada: The voice of foodservice.


The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) is one of Canada’s largest business associations, supporting its members through advocacy, research, member savings and industry events. Its members represent every sector of Canada’s foodservice industry, including restaurants, bars, cafeterias, coffee shops and contract and social caterers.


The new identity serves as the face of the Canadian foodservice industry. The Association's branding is recognized by various levels of government with which the association collaborates, advocates and advises on industry issues, and also by the general public who turn to the new Restaurants Canada for foodservice-related issues.


Concept / Design Process

As a large association serving a wide range of stakeholders, there were multiple considerations to take into account in the development of the new brand.


The process began with a thorough strategic analysis. This involved gathering insights through internal research, focus groups, surveys and other methods of data collection. Through this analysis, we discovered that the name of the CRFA was interfering with brand recognition and was often misspoken, misprinted and even confused with other organizations. Once we uncovered this core shortcoming of the brand, we worked with the client to identify opportunities to address the confusion. The overall goal was to create a clearer message and improve the brand's visibility to help strengthen the Association's connections with stakeholders. 


To effectively represent its national membership, CRFA needed a strong, memorable name that would project a professional, authoritative feel in both French and English. “Restaurants Canada” was chosen as a clear name that builds on past brand equity while also indicating a new direction for the Association.


The client was heavily involved from the beginning of the project, clearly defining the challenges to be addressed with the rebrand and actively participating in brainstorm sessions. Based on these discussions and strategic research, SLD presented six concepts from which board members and CRFA members selected the final concept. 


The new brand was rolled out across all essential external touch points from business cards and e-newsletter templates to magazine inserts and a new website, which is currently under development and scheduled to launch by the end of April 2014.



The new brand and identity has received very positive feedback from Association members. The modernized look ensures heightened visibility for the Association and increased industry impact, with easier member retention and improved potential for attracting new members.


Designer Takeaways:

  1. Prioritize professionalism – Associations answer to a broad range of stakeholders whose needs and expectations must be taken into account. Clients in this space generally require a professional, authoritative brand that will resonate with a broad spectrum of audiences.
  2. Recognize the value of tradition – Associations often communicate with government on behalf of members. For that reason, branding for organizations should emphasize organizational values and traditions. Whether this means the use of specific colours or other visual elements traditionally associated with the brand, i.e. a red maple leaf to convey Canadian leadership, it is important to be cognizant of a brand's history. 
  3. Maintain a neutral feel – When designing for a large organization, maintain simplicity and neutrality to better fit the multiple contexts in which it will be applied. A strong umbrella brand shouldn't target a single audience, it must speak to all stakeholders. 

Client Takeaways:

  1. Build internal alignment and let the research support the work – It is crucial to establish agreement among board members and represent a united front when working with a design agency. This will help maintain a clear message for the creation of the new brand and reinforce this message when the identity is launched. With a large and fragmented pool of decision makers, research can be an instrumental tool for getting everyone on the same page. 
  2. Use a Direct Approach ­– To succeed in a project that hinges on the cooperation of multiple stakeholders, concise and straight-forward communication is key. Everyone should understand the implications of each decision that is made to ensure a more efficient process overall. 
  3. Take Baby Steps  - For a first-time rebrand, trust your design partner to provide insight and educate you on the process. Being open to collaboration will help you understand how all of the different brand elements come together and will ensure an efficient and satisfying redesign project.   


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