The proud face of GFO

GFO’S NEW LOGO REPRESENTS ALL ONTARIO CORN, SOYBEAN AND WHEAT FARMERS

GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO (GFO) is well on its way to becoming the most influential farm organization in the province. Creating a brand identity that represents the merged groups was an important task set forward by the GFO Transition Team, made up of the chairs and vice-chairs of the three founding organizations.

Developing the logo for the GFO was an intriguing creative process and a multifaceted challenge. Staff, directors and key stakeholders worked hard to make sure it turned out just right.

“It’s important to hit the right note when creating a brand,” says Barry Senft, CEO of GFO, “it is the face of the organization that you show to the world.”

Although it may seem like just a logo, it is important to realize that this brand represents all 28,000 Ontario corn, soybean and wheat farmers. As well as being an icon of the proud accomplishments of the GFO’s three founding groups, the brand has to portray the significant economic impact of the sector. The three crops cover 5 million acres of farm land across Ontario, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output, and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.

Another consideration in the brand creation process was the wide variety of groups with which GFO will interact, and the farmers it will serve. A memorable brand needs to speak to all of an organization’s stakeholders and it often must impart different meaning and feelings to each of those groups.

The new brand needs to be well-received by farmers, government, industry and the general public alike. GFO will work for and with these stakeholders, and it is important their first impression of the organization is reflective of who we are and what we do.

THE BRANDING PROCESS
Creating the GFO brand started months before its launch in September, 2009. Interviews were held with many different stakeholders, including directors, staff and industry representatives. From these interviews emerged some clear ideas about what personality the GFO brand should possess.

Key expressions were identified as important to all stakeholders. “A common theme became very apparent early on. All stakeholders agreed that the GFO brand should represent the strength and proud roots of the three merged groups, and be ‘for farmers, by farmers,’” says Mary Wiley, a staff member of the team tasked with branding GFO.

Another matter was the need to portray GFO as providing value to its members as well as reflecting their values, and being powerful, progressive and trusted. All of these characteristics are important to the new organization and inserting each one into the brand identity was a tall order.

The next step was to begin crafting images that visually depicted the goals of GFO.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
After much discussion and several artwork revisions, the new GFO logo was chosen. Both staff and directors alike are very pleased with the result. “There’s a lot of imagery in the logo and we feel it truly represents our organization, what we do and the farmers we serve,” says Senft.

The circular shape of the brand identity represents a ‘round table; farmers helping farmers’ approach which has been evident within the history of the three founding groups, and will be maintained in the new organization.

The brand also takes a ‘big picture view’ of Ontario’s grain and oilseed crops. The centre design was inspired by an aerial photo taken from the Farmers Feed Cities! hot air balloon last autumn. Senft continues to explain that, “the design speaks to crop rotation, land stewardship, agronomics and innovation which are the basis of sustainability for Ontario farmers.”

In addition to all of the imagery infused into the brand, it also instills feelings of heritage. “The patchwork quilt effect of the design pays homage to our proud past. It is because of the long history of success of the three founding groups and the care put into making this merger work that GFO will be a strong organization,” says Senft.

MOVING FORWARD
This brand is now the official face of all Ontario corn, soybean and wheat farmers. It will be used for communications efforts to our members, to the general public, government and the industry.“Without the dedicated work of our members, Grain Farmers of Ontario would not be here today. In the new organization, we encourage people from the grass roots to get involved,” says Senft. “This organization will be what Ontario’s corn, soybean and wheat farmers make it,” he continues, returning to the sentiment of an organization that is “by farmers, for farmers.”

Keep updated on the industry through this publication. A newsletter section in the centre of the magazine provides members with updates specific to Grain Farmers of Ontario activities. Here farmers will find news about upcoming meeting dates and GFO initiatives.

Farmers interested in being more involved should consider joining a GFO committee. Information about committees and the structure of the organization is available on page 20 in the newsletter.

A NEW WEBSITE TO SERVE YOU
With the launch of the Grain Farmers of Ontario brand comes the launch of a brand new website. The new site, found at www.gfo.ca, will feature lots of information about the organization and the respective corn, soybean and wheat industries.

The five main sections of the site have information for farmers, the industry, customers that use Ontario corn, soybeans and wheat and the general public.

News: Find out about all the latest GFO and industry news in this section of the website. It will be updated as often as necessary to make sure farmers are in the know.

Research & Innovation: Interested in what Ontario grain farmers are spending their money on? Check out this section of the site for news of current and past research projects that have been funded through GFO.

Production: Find the latest information on new pests, machinery and best management practices for your farm here.

Market Development: A big part of GFO is developing markets for the products grown by our farmers. Come to this area of the site to learn about past and current initiatives.

Industry: Find information on seed dealers, grain handlers, buyers and processors to support corn, soybean and wheat business decisions.

Consumer Resources: This section of the site is geared towards non-farmers who are interested in what we do. Find all sorts of information on corn, soybean and wheat farming.

Prices & Marketing: Find the current price for your crop and information about GFO’s wheat marketing programs in this section of the site.

The website is an ongoing project and content will be updated and added often. Check back regularly to see what’s new. •

About Grain Farmers of Ontario 2 Articles
Grain Farmers of Ontario is the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers. The crops they grow cover 6 million acres of farm land across the province, generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts, result in over $9 billion in economic output and are responsible for over 40,000 jobs in the province.