Picture this – the year is 1908, there’s a meeting being held by a small group in an anteroom at the Smithfield Agriculture Show. They discuss forming a national organisation to represent the interests of farmers… And it goes pretty well. Fast-forward 112 years, that once little group, now known as The National Farmers Union, are one of the most effective and respective trade associations in Britain.
Not bad, ay?
By 2018 however, despite having a large and relatively stable base of farmer members, the NFU commissioned a piece of research to better understand the current UK farming and farmer landscape. It was the year branded pivotal for the industry as it entered the 'digital revolution', but it was also one year after the UK had given notice of its intent to leave the EU... And the same year a young Greta Thunberg started skipping school to strike for climate action.
With a fifty-five page research de-brief, the NFU tasked S3 to re-look at its Membership Communications and recommend a refreshed design approach; one that would allow the NFU to support farmers as they navigated through new advances in technology. It needed to acknowledge Brexit and the uncertainty it was causing, recognise increasing regulations and understand the pressures and effects of environmental groups (along with many other factors).
Tasked with using the NFU’s existing bank of member imagery and testimonials as the focus of a new design appearance and approach, we got to work.
When we poured over the research it became clear there was no single way in which the UK’s farming industry was changing…The industry was shifting and diversifying everywhere; whether that was the age and gender of a ’typical’ farmer, new and different sectors of operation or even in fundamental approach to farming itself as a lifestyle, business or nuanced blend of the two.
Our first step was to explore and identify the NFU’s natural strength in the face of rapid diversification.
The NFU’s natural strength lies in its breadth and depth of coverage; not just in terms of sectors represented and services offered, but also in terms of the diversity of members themselves.
As the industry continued to evolve, we understood from the research that the modern farmer was having to take on many more roles than ever before. For the NFU, not only were they seeing entirely new and different types of farmers, they were also fielding new and different queries from the same farmers they had had on their books for years.
Our strategy was to celebrate the many different and diverse roles modern farmers now had to undertake, and to present the NFU as their constant, committed champion.
We put together a fresh, new design approach for the NFU’s Press and Digital membership communications and we also proposed a progressed brand mission and endline; from ‘The NFU. We’re here for you’ to ‘The NFU. We’re here for all of you’.
We went back through the files of member imagery and testimonials, pulling out the best, most confident and striking ‘farming heroes’ imagery to hand. Editing down their stories, we overlaid their portraits with unexpected, sometimes juxtaposing ‘job descriptors', highlighting the NFU’s appreciation and support of farming diversity.
Our approach works across the three core aspects of membership comms (Lobbying & Representation; Information, Advice & Guidance; and Exclusive Member Benefits) as well as across the NFU’s member base from Tenants to Student Farmers and Safety Campaigners.
Our executions are easily translated from Press into Digital Display and easily re-formatted to Welsh, for NFU Cymru. With quarterly campaigns, we're also able to create new executions to promote fresh focus areas for each quarter; ensuring an evergreen campaign that farmers look out for, rather than disregard as something they’ve already seen a bunch of times before...
NFU: Representing modern farming, for more than 100 years
A campaign to change perceptions of an heritage organisation...