Okay, so it’s Branding week here on the Small Farm Nation podcast, and we’re gonna discuss an issue all new business owners fret over. And that is what to name your business.
Now you may already have your name locked up…and that’s fine. Then again, you may be considering rebranding. Or maybe you haven’t started your business yet.
This is a particularly interesting decision for farms for reasons I’ll cover in this episode. And if you’ve already named your farm, listen to what I have to say anyway, because no doubt down the line someone’s going to ask your opinion about what they should name their farm.
So let’s dive into this issue, and let’s start with a question…what is your single most important brand asset?
Is it your logo? Your colors, your clever tagline? Those cute little farm icons you have in your logo design?
NO! Of course not. It’s your name, silly. Because that’s the thing everyone repeats and remembers…your name. So it’s super important.
And what you NAME your farm is really important, right?
Now, when I say it’s important, I’m saying it’s your most important brand asset. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the “perfect” name. After all, whatever you name your farm it probably won’t have much to do with its success or failure.
In earlier episodes I’ve given the example of two very successful farms, Polyface and White Oak Pastures. And, while those are both fine names, I don’t think either farmer remotely owes their success to the name they chose.
Still, while there is no one RIGHT name, there are plenty of wrong ones that will damage your brand.
The question becomes, how to understand what works, and what doesn’t.
So, how do we tell right from wrong? Let’s start by taking a look at some “questionable” names.
- There’s a towing company in North Carolina called Camel Tow. Their tagline? We’ll snatch you out of a tight spot. Yep. Camel Tow. If you don’t know why that’s funny…or inappropriate, you’ve lived a more sheltered life than I.
- Then there’s Bunghole Liquors. The kind of liquor you drink to get drunk. Their tagline? We’re not #1 butt we’re right up there. They put two “t’s” in the butt. Get it? We’re not #1 BUTT we’re right up there.
- And we’ve got Morning Wood furniture and Spermies fulfillment operation.
Honestly, don’t know what some of these folks were thinking. Some may find these names humorous, others may find them offensive.
Regardless of how you find them, think about the impact these naming choices have on their brand identity and the emotions they conjure. And the customers they attract. So you want to think up front about what you want your brand to stand for and choose a name consistent with that positioning.
So, what about using your name or your family’s name for your farm? Well, sure…that may work. But lots of times using your name BACKFIRES…BADLY.
I mean, look at some of these examples.
- So, some folks had the last name of Butcher. Not bad if you go into farming, I guess. But they chose a different business. And named it Butcher Funeral Home. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the funeral home business and how much you care about your heritage…choose another name.
- There’s a billboard in Indiana that read, “Welcome! You’ve entered Tom Raper Country” I’ve entered Raper Country? Are you kidding?
- Another one of my favorites is Stoner Insurance. You really think I’m gonna buy insurance from a guy named stoner?
- I’m also NOT going to stay at the Barf Bed & Breakfast or order anything to eat from Herpes Pizza.
Come on! You gotta use common sense if you’re going to force your name on a brand. I mean, my name is Tim Young, and let’s say that I sell baby chickens. YoungPoultry has very different brand implications from YoungChicks. I mean, if you go to youngpoultry.com you’d expect to see chickens. If you went to youngchicks.com you’d expect–something else.
So, using your name has serious brand implications…now, let’s pick the right name for you.
And to help you do that, I’ve created a list of 9 criteria for choosing the best name for your farm or local food business.
- With all else being equal, keep your name as short as you can.
- And be memorable, which means being different, clever and…
- Easy to pronounce.
- And, very important, if you’re hoping that people find you online, choose an SEO descriptive name that gives a clue to where you are and/or what you do.
- And, because of that, avoid hyphens, which are confusing with domains.
- And stay away from trendy words in your name…they’ll go out of style and you’ll be stuck.
- Don’t choose a name that boxes you in. If I chose Tim’s Poultry but later wanted to add pigs, it would be confusing.
- As you heard with the questionable brand names earlier, choose a name that’s consistent with your brand values.
- And, of course, make sure you can use it. If you can get the domain, you’re probably in excellent shape.
Now, as I said, I realize you may already have a name for your farm. But…who knows? Maybe you don’t, or maybe you’re consider rebranding.
Let’s take a look at how we can name a new farm. I’ve got a simple tool we can use for this. A tool to help you select words or phrases that are important to you. Words that are heritage, mission or product related, or words that have geographic meaning to your farm.
If you want to download this tool, go to smallfarmnation.com/farmname and download the template.
But, for now, picture it as having four columns across the top. Column one is Family/Heritage words. Column two is Mission words. Column three is Geographic words, and Column four is Product words.
This is what that approach would look like.
We’d start with Family/Heritage words and make a list of anything you can think of. Your name, the year you settled, grandpa’s name. From there, create a column for mission words…words that describe why you’re doing what you’re doing. Then, add geographic words. These can be locales near you, landmarks, features of your property and so on.
Finally, make a list of product words…but be careful here. You don’t want to choose a narrow product word that may limit your ability to expand later.
Now, do all this in an hour…up to 15 minutes per category.
Then, and I think this is very important today, consider the search terms you want to rank for. All things being equal, it would be nice to have those in your name, if it worked well.
Here, let me tell you what we did with our farm.
It’s pretty easy to see how we came up with Nature’s Harmony Farm. That was a 100% mission inspired name. The name conveys nothing about where we are, who we are or what we produce, but it pretty well conveys our values. And it set the tone for much of our brand voice.
But what else could we have done? We could have used a geographic descriptor, and been Georgia Heritage Farm. That would have helped with SEO since people are likely to search on Georgia Pork or Georgia Farm, for instance. But Georgia Heritage Farm makes us sound like a conservation or historical place, so I wouldn’t have done that.
Then again, we could have replaced farm with pork. That would work well for SEO for sure…but it would have limited us down the road to only pork.
You’ll need to go through this yourself, but this template gives you a good way to approach naming your farm.
Of course, there are two types of names that you may need. There’s the name of your business and, perhaps, the name of your products.
Now, many farms and restaurants may not use product names, but cheesemakers, soap makers, wineries and distilleries do. And there’s no reason why farms can’t…we did.
Here’s an example of a product name.
If you’re not familiar, Label Rouge is a legal standard in France for the production of food items, such as farmed chicken.
It’s a quality guarantee that requires farmers to comply with stringent criteria, but while it’s formally governed there, there’s nothing that says you couldn’t create your own BRANDED standards. Or, perhaps, get together with other farmers in the region to agree on a set of branded standards.
When we delivered to Atlanta, we didn’t just say, “hey, we’re coming.” We created a brand called Farm Train, announced that we’d be making schedule trips to Atlanta, and invited people to jump on the farm train.
Do you see how that approach ties directly into our brand voice and values? Our brand personality was fun, and I think that came through on podcasts and in product naming. But what we were doing was serious. Most important, our brand mission was to invite people to SHARE the journey with us, right? So, of course, we wanted them to hop on the train.
Now, most creameries name their cheeses to differentiate them, but you can do this with soaps, meats, honey, whatever.
Your raw milk doesn’t have to be just “raw milk. It can be called, oh…I don’t know…Liquid Gold by XYZ Farm, since I’m sure your grassfed cows are producing rich, creamy milk with a golden hue.
Just be sure that your product brand names connect with your farm’s values.
Let’s look at a real-life case study.
Jasper Hill Farm is a good example of what I mean by that. Let’s start with their logo since so many people fret over logo design. Go to their website to check it out. It’s super simple, basically just a text logo with their name in a blue box. They’ve chosen a organgish color which, I’m sure is no mistake, since it resembles the color of cheese. And, speaking of cheese, there’s a wedge of it in the top left corner that points straight to their name, drawing your eye there.
It’s a simple but very effective logo.
Now, it’s not a requirement, but taglines can be very helpful if done correctly.
The tagline “A Taste of Place” with their location just beneath it speaks volumes.
- you know where the place is…Greensboro Vermont, and
- you have a sense of what they’re doing and what’s important to them. Preserving a taste from a specific area.
Their cheeses are world-class, but when you look at the product names, they may seem a bit odd. Most of these are names that are unfamiliar to us. What in the world do they mean?
Well, they’re all local landmarks or historical figures. And choosing those names ties directly into Jasper Hill’s mission and brand identity. So it makes perfect sense.
By using the naming template I just covered we can see that Jasper Hill choose a 100% geographic name for their farm. And they continued this approach using local landmarks for the naming of their products, and the approach has served them well. But not because they have great names…because they execute well and connect with customers.
So, clearly there are lots of ways you can name your farm, but here’s the wrong way.
Don’t ask someone what your name should be…it’s YOUR business…own it!
Trust me, when you start asking opinions, you’re gonna get them, and they’ll have you questioning everything you do. You know why you started this business. So give it a name and get on with it!
Okay…Let’s spend a minute on taglines and why they’re important.
Whether you call it a slogan or a tagline, it can do great things for your business. And there are tons of great examples out there.
While each of these is memorable, they’re all quite different. Some give a hint of what the business does, such as BMW’s ultimate driving machine, Wheaties “Breakfast of Champions” or Maxwell Houses’s “good to the last drop.”
Some challenge you in a fun way, such as Lay’s “betcha can’t eat just one” They’re right, by the way.
They’re all great taglines and they help greatly with the marketing of each brand. Now, here are six reasons why taglines are important.
- Helps in recalling your brand
- Sets you apart…differentiates you
- Defines your offering
- Shares your values
- Can tell a story
- Imparts positive feelings about your brand
Now, the major taglines I mentioned a moment ago were developed long before there was such a thing as SEO. Today, taglines can also be good for SEO, as well as helping to make you memorable. Here are a few modern examples of taglines that relate to farming and local food.
As I mentioned, Jasper Hill Farm – A taste of place
- Polyface Farm – The farm of many faces
- Good Earth Farms – Pasture-Raised Meats
- Earthbound – Food to live by
- Niman Ranch – Raised with care
- Whole Foods – World’s Healthiest Grocery Store
- EarthFare – Healthy Food for Everyone
Now, many of these taglines do nothing to help with SEO, but you could incorporate SEO into yours if you wanted.
Niman Ranch’s Raised with care could become raised with care in your location, for instance.
If you’re stuck on coming up with a tagline, use your mission as an inspiration for a starting point. Here are a few sample taglines I came up with:
- Your Dairy Farm – Milk Us for all we’re worth
- Your Farm Name – Growing food that’s fit to eat.
- Your Organic Farm Name – It’s only natural to want food this good!
- Your Farm Name – Let’s Grow Together!
- Your Farm Name – Vermont Poultry, Pork & Dairy.
- Your Farm Name – Nothing Added. Everything Gained.
- Your Farm Name – Goodness Grows.
Like one of them? Use it. It’s easy coming up with taglines and there’s no right answer.
Do I think your name and tagline are important? Yes, of course. And I’d take it seriously just as you should.
But I’d invest in a business that had a great execution plan and business model over one with a great name, logo, and tagline any day.
So give this issue of naming your business and products the attention it deserves, but only the attention it deserves and no more.
It is important, but not as important as your business model and profit strategy.
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