by Rick Mooney
Editor, eHay Weekly

Developing a logo design for your marketing program is sound business strategy, says Kevin Carmichael, founder of the online hay marketing Web site AgriHayExchange.

“A logo projects an image of professionalism,” he says. “People see it and think, ‘This business is established and takes a professional approach to what it's doing.’ They feel better about doing business with you.”

If you have a talent or knack for graphic design, you can design a logo yourself. Carmichael opted to turn the chore over to an online design firm. “I fiddled with a couple of designs, but I just couldn't come up with something I really liked,” he says. “The company I worked with took my suggestions, then had three different designers draw something up. We went back and forth and eventually came up with a design we thought would work.”

Carmichael uses the logo on his Web site, business stationary, invoices, business cards and in print ads in newspapers and magazines. “A logo sticks in people's minds. It's nice to have one on any printed material – business cards, brochures, etc. – you hand out at a trade show or leave with customers. People tend to forget a company name, but they'll remember a simple, well-designed logo.”

His logo consists of two silhouetted alfalfa plants set against a plain tan background. “For colors, I wanted to stick with those that you see in agriculture and that would also work in with the colors on my Web site. You also want to avoid going overboard on the design itself. Think of something simple. It certainly worked for Nike and its Swoosh.”

The cost of having the design done will vary by company. Carmichael says to figure on a minimum price of $150 or so. “It's like anything else; you get what you pay for. You really can't go wrong for a couple hundred dollars."

Hay grower Andy Stock also used an online design service to create a logo for his Stock Hay Co. in Murdock, NE. Stock puts up alfalfa, teff and bromegrass hay in 3 x 4 x 8' bales on 400 acres. He markets top-quality alfalfa to dairies in Nebraska and as far away as Mississippi and Indiana. For beef-quality hay, local feedlots are his best customers. He's also considering branching out and marketing to horse owners.

“I took a few marketing classes in college where we spent a fair amount of time talking about the importance of creating a brand for yourself,” says Stock. “The logo is part of that. It's something that people can identify your company with. And it sends a subtle message that you approach your business in a professional way. You're not just another person out in the country with a few bales of hay to sell.”

Like Carmichael, Stock uses the logo – which is tied into his company slogan, “We put the pro in protein” – on a variety of business materials. Those include invoices, monthly statements, fax cover pages, business cards and the thank-you notes he sends to customers several times a year.

“It makes those things stand out a little more from the competition. For example, my dairy customers get quite a few different business cards from other hay growers. By taking a little more time and investing a little more money in those materials to project an organized, professional image, I'll be in a little better position to get their business.”

Stock paid under $300 for the design. “I considered it pretty inexpensive when you consider what other companies spend on logo design. Some corporations spend thousands and thousands of dollars to develop a logo.”

To contact Carmichael, call 215-853-2538 or email kcarmichael@KC-web.com. Stock can be reached at 402-867-3341 or andy@stockhay.com.