Using design insight to flip preconceptions & create radical product differentiation.
BC Milk Producers Association was founded to provide industry leadership and advance the interests of British Columbia dairy producers. Working with local farmers and educational institutions, the association developed an apprenticeship program designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified employees for the dairy industry in British Columbia. With the core program curriculum developed, they looked to our creative team to help them “make dairy farming cool”.
In a job-fair landscape dominated by high-tech, well-paying jobs, how do you make the dairy industry a viable and relevant career option for potential career-seekers? And, on an even larger scale, how do you combat the popular perception that a career on the farm is less sophisticated than those sexier high-tech jobs?
Initial research showed us that working on the farm was anything but “low-tech”. The farming industry had been transformed in recent decades by technological advancements like logistics software and RFID tags. We found that the level of technology on the modern farm was astounding, requiring a high degree of specialization and expertise.
As a dairy farmer, employees have access to innovative, scientific, and progressive technologies. They are part of a necessary and specialized industry that not only supports local communities, but also impacts the world through trade and commerce. But that could be said of nearly any major industry, right? So, rather than take a “me too” approach, we decided to take an alternative approach, turning the preconceptions of farming to our advantage. Instead of asking “How do we make dairy farming as cool as X?”, we asked: “What makes dairy farming even better than X?”
What dairy farming really has that few other careers can boast is surprisingly simple: the “lifestyle”. There’s no nine-to-five, no cubicles, no office politics. And the view from your “office” is like no other: filled with wide open fields and fresh air. There’s the element of being your own boss and even a sort of countercultural attitude that comes from breaking the generic office drone mentality. Dairy farmers in BC get to map out their own day and see tangible results, all while earning a very comfortable living centred around family, community, and activity. When seen through that lens, a career as a dairy farmer suddenly becomes quite attractive.
To start communicating these notions, our visual direction sought to tap into the basic appreciation most people have for nature and the natural landscape. We wanted to create an emotional connection with that rural lifestyle though photography and colour. Typographical treatments chosen implied craftsmanship by referencing old hand-painted signs, but were executed in a way that evoked newness and vitality with a confidence that combated quaintness.
As we went through the process of developing differentiation, we recommended that the program—and the industry itself—seek an identity that could capitalize on its assets while maintaining its professional context. We developed the name “DairyPro” and subsequent logo and identity. With the tone and branding guide established, we went on to develop the website, signage, and print collateral that visually embodied much of the program’s ideals.
A dramatic uptake in program interest through the website, job fairs, and career services, followed the launch of the identity and website. But our proudest personal moment came after the program launched. In a conversation about the initiative with a multi-generational dairy farmer, it was clear how enthusiastic the farmer had been about our work. It added a cultural cache and visibility to his profession while staying true to the core ideals. But best of all, he told us how proud he was to be able to call himself a “DairyPro”. Pretty cool.