Written by Billie Ingalls
Recently I attended an event by the Women in Ag group called FarmHer in Des Moines, Iowa. Overall it was a really empowering event to learn from other women in agriculture both young and old. We covered topics from politics in agriculture to leaving your legacy and estate planning all down to creating a brand for yourself and your farm.
Many of the farmers I talked with this week have multi-generational farms that range from livestock, to almonds, peaches, wheat, corn and so much more. Each of their brands of who they are and their farms is vastly different, but in the end we are all working toward the same end goal – to make our communities and society aware of the world of agriculture we are in and to help feed the world. But how do we communicate that? By building our brand.
With the up rise in the news surrounding agriculture and a lot of negative energy toward farming, it is important to not only know your personal brand but what your farms brand is and how it reflects your personal values and beliefs. Just like a business brand used to identify who the business is and what they do, your farm can do the same. So let’s start off by defining what a brand is:
“the ongoing process of establishing an image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group or organization.”
Start by asking yourself these questions about yourself and your operation:
- What are you like at your best?
- Who do you serve?
- How do you do it uniquely?
- I am known for _____ and I want to be known for ______
Your brand doesn’t need to be a highly designed logo with a tagline, but maybe it’s just your farm’s name and what you do. By building a brand for your farm, you’re one step ahead at communicating and educating those that might be misguided by false advertising and scare tactics in the media about where our food comes from.
After you answer those questions about yourself and your operation, start researching. Look at other farms that may already be doing this through a website, blog, or videos. Check out some of these great examples of family farms that have built their brands:
Food and Swine is an awesome website and blog by an Iowa farmer and her family. She loves to cook, and write so she used those skills to create Food and Swine. Here she shares recipes and also talks about her family farm and helping people understand where their food comes from. Everyone loves food and comes together typically with food at the center, so she used that as her leverage to educate those around her.
The Peterson Farm Bros, are very well known in the farming industry. Even if you’re not in agriculture, people know the Peterson brothers. All they did was they started making humorous parody music videos from popular songs and changed the lyrics to be about farming. These brothers are young and in their 20’s and have started to change the face of agriculture through humor. They have since expanded and now speak around the nation and give tours of their farm for those that want to learn more about agriculture.
Crystal Cattle is also another really great blog and website to follow. Crystal is a young woman in her 20’s as well that owns and operates JJB Cattle Co. a purebred Hereford and crop farm in northeast Iowa with her husband. She took an interesting take on tying in her hobbies with her passion for agriculture. Crystal loves makeup and she also has a love for farming, so she used those things to tie in a diverse group of people. She talks about everything from lipstick shades to caring for her Hereford cattle. By using her hobbies and passions to work together, people from all walks of life came into the picture and it opened a door of opportunity to educate people on farming and also the truth behind ingredients that are used to produce makeup products.
Now that you’ve done your research and figured out what your brand is for your operation, it’s time to build an online presence. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy website or blog, but maybe just a facebook page or a twitter and Instagram page. It all starts by sharing your story and your brand you’ve just built for yourself. It can be as simple as posting photos of harvest or live facebook video’s on how you take care of your livestock.
The world is curious about agriculture more than ever today, and unless we share about this industry and way of life, people aren’t going to know where to start learning about farming. When it comes straight from the farmer and their families, there is more truth and education behind their words with their feet on the ground.
Live out your Brand
Last but not least, live your brand in all you do and everything you chose not to do. If community and family is important to you, live that out in your brand and carry it proudly. If you value time with your livestock, show the world that you care for your animals! Also, lift each other up. Don’t diminish or belittle another farmer because their practices might be different from yours. If your neighbor is an organic farmer or of a smaller scale, use it as an opportunity to learn from them, as they can learn from you. Because in the end, we are in the same industry and working toward the same end goal.
If you have questions on building your brand such as: designing a logo/website, starting a blog or making an online presence, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you begin building your brand.
Billie graduated from Bethel University in 2015 with a Bachelors degree in Organizational Communication & Marketing studies. She grew up in northwest Wisconsin surrounded by more trees than cornfields but enjoys the new view. Billie enjoys spending time with the cattle and learning more about agriculture every day. Whether that’s taking a class, reading a book or asking questions, she’s always ready to hit the ground running.