Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ch-Ch-Changes and Tips for Naming Your Farm

For six years now, my little farm has gone by the name "Wonderland Farm." I chose that name back in 2008 when I bought my first two Nigerian Dwarf does, and I registered "Wonderland" as my herd name*. I chose the name because Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite children's books, and I was enamored with the idea of wonderlands and neverlands during that time in my life. I thought Wonderland would be perfect to illustrate my love of reading, capture my desire for my farm to be a real-life wonderland, and show that I keep a bit of childhood with me.

Fast forward to 2013, and ADGA -- the biggest dairy goat registry in the states -- has decided to register Nigerian Dwarf goats for the first time. Yay! Right? Yes. But there was a problem: "Wonderland" was not available as a herd name with ADGA. I had to change my herd name, and my options were not great. "Wonderland Farm" is far too long and took up half of the allotted space for a goat's registered name. "WNDRLNDFRM," with or without a space, just doesn't look appealing, in my opinion. And Wonderland27, which is what I initially chose to change to, is still pretty long, kinda a mouthful, and to be honest, I don't like the way it looks on paper, either. The 27 does correspond to one of my favorite Bible passages (Prov 27), but it doesn't make as much sense and, I feel, makes it very obvious that this was not my first choice for herd name. I don't want a herd name that necessitates explanation. "Why is there a 27 on your herd name...?"

I struggled with my herd name off and on for months. I considered changing it to WLF, but that doesn't capture anything personal to me or my farm nor does it sound like a farm name. It is initials. If a potential buyer who was previously unfamiliar with my farm saw WLF in a goat's name that I had bred, he or she would have to actually do research to find out who the breeder was. It does nothing to market or brand my goats or my farm to the public. If one day I should be so lucky as to have bred a top ten producer or other well-titled goat, I want the public to have a farm name to look up and be familiar with -- not an acronym. 

This struggle with my herd name led to a greater struggle with my farm name in general. I found that Wonderland Farm doesn't really fit me or my vision anymore. I was a teenager when I chose that farm name, and although I don't dislike it, I realize now that it doesn't send the message I want nor is it easily marketable. The biggest issue is that Wonderland is such a popular and common idea (which is why the herd name was unavailable in the first place). If you Google "Wonderland Farm," the entire first page of results is filled with a horse ranch in North Carolina. I also feel that Wonderland Farm has too much of a juvenile vibe to it. I want a farm name that can grow as the farm grows, that is mature (though not overly serious), that can accurately reflect myself and my farm, and that can be marketed without too much competition as far as other farms already having the same name. Wonderland doesn't really work with that. It was time for a change. 

That, in a nutshell, is how Wonderland Farm became Tiramar Farms in 2014. It took quite a lot of brainstorming and spit balling ideas, but we finally came up with a name that fulfills all of what I wanted from a farm name. It is, as far as I know, completely unique. A Google search reveals no other Tiramar Farms. The change from Farm to Farms also allows much more room for growth; I no longer just have goats, after all. I like that it was truly a collaborative effort that birthed this name. I could not have come up with it without the help of my mother, and I could not have made the decision with confidence if not for the consultation of my father and my close friends. It also contains part of the name of one of the first goats on whom I really learned to milk**, making it more personal to me and my experience than Wonderland. Lastly, it has a pleasing sound as well as appearance, and it gives off the overall vibe I was going for, at least in my opinion. Tiramar sounds mature but not stuffy, elegant but not pretentious, and more like a place-name than a human name (I've never been a fan of having my own name in my farm name, though that certainly works well for others). It just sounds pleasing on the ears and lends itself well to the overall feel of my farm.

When I showed my best friend, Sarah, the new logo I designed for Tiramar, she made the comment, "It's like the little girl from the old logo grew up." I loved that she thought of that, because that is exactly what happened! Like I said, I was a teenager when I named the farm Wonderland, and I'm not a teenager anymore. As we grow older our tastes, desires, dreams, and goals shift. We reevaluate things, and sometimes that means even reevaluating a name that has been with us for six years. It's a little nostalgic to see the old name go, but I love the new name. I am happy to say that I believe that Tiramar is a name I can stick with for the long haul.

As a refresher for those who may not remember the old logo...this is what I once used:

And this is what I use now:

(Can I just say that I love that the woman in my new logo has bare feet? Because I am always going barefoot whenever I can!)

So now that my story is out of the way and any confusion about the name change has hopefully been cleared up, here are a few tips on naming your farm, from me to you:
  1. Make it Unique. You truly don't want your farm to share a name with a bunch of other farms.When someone tries to look you up to buy your products, you want your farm to at least be on the first page of search results, if not the first result period. You also want any herd names that you need to register to be available. Not every farm will be raising registered livestock, but if you are or even might be in the future, this is important. Most purebred registries, regardless of species, require this type of naming.

    Making a unique name can be more difficult than you think, though. Always be sure to search the internet for the names you're considering before you get too attached. Taking the next two points into mind will help you make it unique as well.
  2. Make it Memorable. What's memorable? A name that's unique, of course! But I'm not trying to talk in circles here. You want your customers to be able to remember your farm name so that if they lose your information they can find it again, and so that when they're telling their friends about your great farm they can remember a name to pass on.

    So, what makes a name memorable, aside from uniqueness? Well, it shouldn't be overly difficult to pronounce or too long. If it's in a foreign language, choose a simple word with only a couple of syllables (Adios Acres rather than Rancho Cielo Morado, for example). Consider making up your own word; doing so will make it more unique, and therefore more easy to remember. But still stick with fairly simple, easy to pronounce words. We did this with my farm name, Tiramar, and I know of a farm called MigMog Acres.
  3. Make it Personal. This could be done in many ways. Survey your landscape: is there anything interesting about it that you really love? I heard of a farm named One Ash Farm, presumably because they had only one ash tree. Do you have a dear loved one who has passed away that you would like to honor? A particular quirk unique to your or your family? A special animal that helped found your farm?

    Making your farm name personal will make it mean that much more to you, and also help it to be more unique. However, be sure it's not such a private story or inside joke that others won't be able to connect to it.
  4. Leave Room for Growth. This was a mistake I made in first naming my farm; the original name was too confined to a specific theme or idea. There's more than one way to not leave room for growth, though. For instance, Hippie Chick'n Farm might seem really cute at the time, but what happens when you decide to add on other species of livestock? Five Harpers Farm is nice, too, but what if you have another child? Obviously these specific situations may not apply to everyone, but it's important to remember that your life might take you to unexpected places. Try not to let your farm name fence you in.
  5. Consider Marketing. At some point, you are going to need to generate a market for your farm so that you can also generate revenue. Even if you don't want your farm to be a business, it's likely that at some point you will need or want to sell excess eggs, honey, baby livestock, etc. You want a name that can be marketed. All of the other points in this list play into marketing as well, but putting some thought specifically into how your farm name will affect marketing is not a bad idea. You may want to make clear what your products are (Pint Size Poultry, for example, would market bantam birds or quail well), but then you also run into the risk of narrowing your room for growth. If you want to market multiple things, don't make your name refer to only one aspect of your farm.

    It's also best to keep your name in good taste: a vulgar or off-color name will likely ostracize some of your potential clients and may prevent you from advertising in certain locations or publications. Remember that many parents love to take their kids to farms or farmer's markets -- if your name isn't child friendly, you drastically cut your clientele. Speaking of clientele, remember your target demographic when naming your farm. A farm selling women's bath products will benefit from a drastically different name than would fit a farm offering a haunted corn maze. If you want to market to a wide demographic, keep the name neutral.
  6. Consider Your Theme/Vibe/Etc. Do you want humor associated with your farm? Whimsy? Romance? History? A name can evoke a certain feeling or imagery very easily. A prominent farm in Illinois goes by the name of Antiquity Oaks. That name combines the image of oak trees with the idea of antiquity, suggesting a historical, or traditional method of farming on a property with oaks. Some people choose to go with their own name for their farm, such as Parham Farms, a wonderful goat farm in Tennessee. Using your name in your farm name denotes a family vibe and brings to mind the human element in the farm. Think of what you value, and what your goals, hopes, and dreams are for your farm, and try to structure your name in such a way that it reflects your chosen theme or the feeling that you want to evoke in others when they hear your farm name.
  7. Consider Your Tagline. This is a key tool in marketing. A name can say a lot, but it can't say everything. That's where your tagline comes in. The tagline of your farm can be used to convey your personal code of operation, your values, or something about what you do or your products. Not every farm has a tagline, but I personally believe that a tagline is a good idea for sharing with others what your farm is about in a very concise manner. My tagline is "History. Heart. Hard Work." My mother helped me come up with this tagline, which makes it all the more appropriate. It's alliterative, which makes it memorable (and we already know how important that is), but it also speaks to some of my core values as they pertain to the farm. History indicates my belief in tradition and doing things in an "old fashioned" way, and it also speaks to the importance of my own personal history. I am a fourth generation farmer on my dad's side of the family, and on my mom's side I am a third generation goatherd (my grandmother, mother, and now myself have owned goats; in fact, one of my mother's goats knocked me out when I was a child). Heart speaks to the love that goes into everything I do in my farm and the importance of my family. Hard Work is pretty self-explanatory: a farm takes a lot of hard work! It is the goal to call to mind at least some of these notions for those who read my tagline.

    What's your message? Compress it to its most basic form and then make it your tagline.
  8. Make Sure It Can Stick Around. I know that this post is all about how and why I changed my farm name. Fair enough! But realistically, you aren't going to be able to change your farm name in the future, and if you do you'll likely only get one more chance at picking a good one. I got lucky; the reason I was able to change mine is partly because it made sense practically (just being discontent with a name is not really enough reason to go through the trouble and expense of changing it) and partly because I did not have a huge audience at the time of changing it. Even though my farm had been around six years, two of those years were in a sabbatical from breeding and my farm had been no more than a small hobby for the rest. I hadn't marketed my "brand" much yet, which meant that I would not be confusing many people, undoing years of getting my name out, or replacing tons of marketing supplies like business cards. Make sure that your name is one you can live with for a long time, because once it gets out there it will be hard to change it without potentially hurting your business.

That's all, folks! As always, thanks for reading.

*If your are unfamiliar with what a herd name is, it is the name goat breeders register with breed registries as the first part of each goat's name. Breeders of registered goats must have a herd name so that each animal they breed will be identifiable as bred by that breeder, and so that each animal recorded in the registry has a unique name. Instead of having 100 goats registered as "Hilda," each Hilda would be recorded as "Tiramar Hilda," "Oak Hill Farm Hilda," or "Happy Udders Hilda." 

**I am referring to my dear MiniMancha doe, Tiramisu, though I was learning to milk on sweet Abigail at the same time (whose face graces the top of this blog). Although both of these girls will always hold a special place in my heart (as many others do as well), "Tira" lends itself best to a farm name. "Abbymar" just doesn't have the same ring to it, nor does "Browniemar" even though she was my our first founding doe.

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