Why Should Farmers Care About Branding?
If you are in the farming business, you are growing to share.
Your goal is for people to buy your produce as often as possible. Maybe your primary customers are farmers market shoppers. Farm stand stoppers. Retailers. Wholesalers. Or those wonderful farm-to-table restaurants looking for a steady stream of fresh, local ingredients.
But they all have one thing in common:
They have options.
To run a successful farm business, you need to ask yourself how you can better your chances of people purchasing YOUR products – or ideally, become their favorite farm of choice.
The answer lies in having a strong brand.
We’re not talking the type of brand applied to the hindquarters of livestock.
If you suspect this has something to do with marketing, you are partly right. But a brand is not about marketing – it’s about YOU. Your farm. Your business. Your values. Your customers’ experiences.
Let’s back up for a minute.
For a customer to buy from you, they have to be aware of you. It’s helpful to have a strong, appealing visual identity –farm name and logo, color scheme and design elements – used consistently on everything from farm stand signs to packaging.
But your visual identity is not your brand. It’s how customers connect you to your brand and the feelings that it evokes. American designer and author Marty Neumeier said, “A logo is not a brand – it’s only a symbol for a brand. A brand is much more than a logo.”
Apple frontman Steve Jobs proposed, “A brand is simply trust.”
Let’s explore the connection between trust and brand.
Now more than ever, many people are paying close attention to what they eat and where their food comes from. You can capitalize on that and provide them not only with produce, but with transparency. Peace of mind. Trust. These are all key values that play into food purchasing decisions.
Think of when you hear of a major food recall due to the threat of contamination. The farms where these originated – which you know because you looked it up out of curiosity and concern – now have an unfortunate brand: Unhealthy.
You, of course, want your brand to be positive. You want your customers to enjoy your goods and their experiences dealing with you so much that they come back for more, become repeat (and ideally regular) customers, tell their friends, and – dare to dream – sing your praises on social media.
“Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is,” Neumeier said.
Legendary marketing and branding strategist and best-selling author Al Ries said that a brand is “a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of a prospect.”
What do you want people to think when they hear your farm’s name? “Really delicious cheese.” “My local farm.” “The freshest meat.” “My weekly produce delivery.”
“The brand you’re creating is a symbol of your promise to the industry and your potential customers,” explained Chris Michael, senior manager of internal communications and connection for indoor farming company Plenty, Inc.
“What farmers forget is that people assign values, attitudes, and images to your farm whether you like it or not,” Michael said. “Smart farmers take control of their brand from the get-go so that they can use it to get traction in their markets.”
In other words, stronger brands lead to stronger sales. If your farm has a good reputation and customers understand your value, you can ask higher prices and customers will pay them because they feel your goods – or the experience of buying from you – is worth it. Your brand justifies the price.
Not sure of your brand?
Need help developing it – or the visual identity to communicate it? Our brand experts would be happy to help you grow. Contact us today (before the cows come home).
Founded in 1989, Spiral Design is a full-service design firm specializing in design for marketing. Contact us today.