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Agrimarketing : January February 2008
With more than 200 seed com- panies in the industry, it's hard to stand out in a sea of sameness, but one company in 2007 emerged from the rest and differenti- ated itself. A brightly colored fish now stands as an icon for Wyffels Hybrids, Geneseo, IL, an indepen- dent, regional seed corn company, who began the re-branding process eight months ago. The Hondo Group, Fort Worth, TX, is behind the Wyffels re-branding campaign. Many aspects of the com- pany's philosophy were considered during the re-branding process. "A company needs performance to even play the game, but we want peo- ple to stop, look and listen to our mes- saging," says Mark Risley, Mktg Dir for Wyffels Hybrids. "We want grow- ers to see how we're different from other seed companies. Our difference is how we treat our customers." Knowing corn growers want more than numbers and data from their seed company and they want to be treated as more than a number, the Hondo team focused on Wyffels' mission of building close relation- ships with their customers. "Wyffels Hybrids has the prod- ucts, research program and the sales force to be one of the largest inde- pendent seed companies in the industry; but competitors were posi- tioning them in the marketplace," says Lynn Balinas, Pres of The Hondo Group. "Wyffels was looking for a way to be more visible in the market and stand out from the crowd. We wanted them to stand for something, not against." MORE THAN A NUMBER Not only does Wyffels offer unique genetic packages and traits, but they treat their customers as more than a number providing unique personal- ized attention and customer care. The Hondo team first began its branding effort by addressing a few specific questions: • What brand promise are we illus- trating? • What message are we conveying? • What is important for growers to know about Wyffels? • What can we deliver to growers? • Where is the company going long-term? • What makes us different? Hondo created three positioning statements and tested them with more than 1,000 corn growers. In an industry dominated by numbers, growers were still look- ing for personalized rec- ommendations and cus- tomer service. After the research was compiled, "More than a number" was the position that res- onated with Wyffels growers and prospects. "More than a number relates to the corn indus- try in every way, because it's about more than the hot hybrid number of the day, more than a customer num- ber, and more than a trait package," says Balinas. "It's the combination of being able to look at a grower as an individual and meet that grower 's individual needs." The team then looked for a total marketing concept that would best illustrate the positioning statement. The campaign needed to break through the clutter in publications, but still have relevance to the way Wyffels does business. A variety of images and concepts were created that had stopping power with the target audiences while ensur- ing all communications stayed true to the overall Wyffels corporate philosophy --- customer-oriented, friendly, open and interesting. FISH WINS Wyffels chose the "hero fish" as their image for a variety of reasons. The deciding factor was that the brightly colored tropical fish swimming in a sea of the same colored fish was created to resemble one company standing out from the crowd. "The carp fish are metaphors for all the other companies in this indus- try, and our brightly colored fish rep- resents Wyffels," says Balinas. "As our fish creates his own trail, every- one else in the industry follows their same dull path." The fish has taken a life of its own by effectively making people stop and question what Wyffels Hybrids is all about. The Wyffels dif- ference is illustrated by not only what they do and how they act, but also how they are positioned in the marketplace. "The company has talked about yield for so long that it's been a chal- lenge for everyone to reposition Wyffels, but our employees have risen to the challenge and it's been well received," says Risley. "This 16 AgriMarketing January/February 2008 BRANDING IN THE SEA OF SAMENESS by Ashley Woodward, The Hondo Group Wyffels' print campaign featured the brightly colored fish icon. Not your typical seed corn ad.
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