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Welcome to our Branding Lesson! Branding your farm is an important first step in establishing and communicating your story to your customers. Your brand is much more than just your logo; it is defined by all aspects of your farm’s communications - from your website and the labels you put on your produce to how you tell the story of your farm.

In this lesson we will help you think about how to build your brand and outline the various elements that can help you be recognizable to customers and stand out among the other vendors at the farmers market. We will incorporate examples from farms who are doing a great job with their branding. 

START BY DEFINING YOUR BRAND

Your brand establishes your unique identity for customers. You’re more likely to succeed as a business if your customers know who you are, what your story is, and what sets you apart from other farms. You want customers to choose you to be their farmer, and you want them to keep coming back. You can help facilitate this relationship by having a clearly defined brand identity that helps them have a relationship with your farm, not just your food. 

Think about your brand in relation to your farm’s story and mission. Branding is conveyed through everything from your website, marketing materials, social media to your presence at the market. It’s both how you represent yourself visually and also how you talk about the farm to your customers. 

Defining your brand is like a journey of farm self-discovery. It requires you to step outside your daily routine and reflect on who you are, answering some basic questions like the ones listed below.

 What are your values?

 What is your farm’s personality? 

 What do you do best as a farmer? 

 What need are you fulfilling for your customers? 

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(PDF includes more examples, taglines & a guide to finding the right designer for you!)

THE LOGO: YOUR BRAND'S FOUNDATION

Your logo is the foundation of your brand, but don’t confuse having a logo with having a brand. A brand is the much broader character of your company across platforms and the way in which your customers ultimately think of you. 

Paul Rand,  who designed the IBM and UPS logos, among many others, once said that “a logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies. A logo is rarely a description of a business. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like. The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything.”

Your logo is an important first step in signifying the character of a business. This visual element symbolizes the brand and can play a large role in establishing an emotional connection with the product. Your logo should be integrated into all elements of your communications (advertising, signage, website, social media, etc.). 


DESIGNING YOUR LOGO

A good logo is distinctive, practical, simple in form and conveys the owner’s intended message.  A good logo can speak for itself. 

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MEMORABILITY

Good design is making something intelligible and memorable.
Great design is making something memorable and meaningful.

- Dieter Rams 

Brand Building Tip: 
Many designers start their work in black and white to ensure that their finished product always looks good, regardless of whether or not it has been printed in color. Regardless of how your designer works, request a black and white version of your logo before you sign off on the design. If the logo only works in color, you might want to reconsider the design. 

Good logos feature something unexpected or unique without being “overdrawn.” Denison Farm in Schaghticoke, NY has a lovely and very simple logo designed by Alison Farrell. The silhouette of the farmer crouching down and planting into the “I” is clever and endearing and looks great printed on their tote bags and hats!

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(PDF includes more examples, taglines & a guide to finding the right designer for you!)

Timelessness

 

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.

- Frank Gehry 

Make sure you’re not following a trend too closely so your logo is as timeless as possible. Ask yourself if your logo will still be effective in 10, 20 or 50 years. Don’t follow the latest fad. Don’t be afraid to stand out in your design.  

Brand Building Tip:
Use your logo everywhere - Make some business cards, labels, stationary - anything that will get your brand out into the world. Skylight Farm in Douglasville, Georgia recently hired Russell Shaw to give their brand a face-lift. He put their logo on everything from notebooks to cutting boards!  

Brand Building Tip:
Going the extra mile often pays off. Skylight Farm used paper with seeds embedded into it so their customers can plant the business cards and stationary that they receive! What a fun way to express their commitment to the planet and provide a fun little conversation piece for their customers to talk about with their friends. 

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VERSATILITY

It’s important to have a versatile logo that allows you to be consistent across platforms. It’s always good to think about making a few different versions of your logo  (perhaps a vertical and a horizontal version), and then use them as much as you can. Update your website, your Facebook page and any printed collateral that you might have. Maintain the same color scheme and font throughout. 

Hailey Lowe Fennell designed a great, simple logo for Happy Earth Farm in Aiken, SC that they utilize across the board. The bright red tractor stands out well on most surfaces but could also be printed in black without loosing its character. 

Brand Building Tip:
An effective logo works across a variety of media and applications. Keep in mind that logos designed in vector format can scale to any size, whereas a sketch that’s scanned into the computer will loose some of its sharpness when it’s scaled up. 

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(PDF includes more examples, taglines & a guide to finding the right designer for you!)

SIMPLICITY

There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.

- Leo Tolstoy

When in doubt, choose simplicity. Queen Farina’s logo of a queen bee, designed by Brett Smith, is a great example of a simple and effective logo. 

Brand Building Tip:
A picture is worth a thousand words! Sometimes it pays to hire a photographer for a product session, especially if you’re about to set a new online store up. Queen Farina hired Chelsea Scanlan Photography to take beautiful photos for their online shop. The end result is a cohesive and inviting website with a clear brand! 

Brand Building Tip:
Maintain a consistent look throughout your marketing efforts. Queen Farina’s brand includes a lot of crisp, white imagery. Their brand carries itself across their marketing collateral, from the coffee mug to the apron of the person holding the honey. Think about the colors, font and feel of the images you use. You’ll be surprised at what a little intention will do to your branding!

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(PDF includes more examples, taglines & a guide to finding the right designer for you!)