Monsanto can justly c laim to know a thing or two about branding. After all, it was three years ago that Roundup surpassed John Deere to become the most recognized ag brand in the world.
Now, the biotech giant says its new Genuity brand is going to be even bigger.
Even for Monsanto, the Genuity brand is a stretch. What s clear, though, is that the company has been every bit as scientific with its Genuity launch as it is with its genes.
What s also clear is that Genuity is aimed straight at the farmer. Simply put, Monsanto believes that Genuity will not only convince you to buy more of its products, but it will make you happy about it as well.
From his St. Louis, Missouri office, Monsanto marketing manager Dion McBay can point to reams of Genuity research and studies. In fact, there are stacks and stacks of tests just on the name itself, picked just over a year ago from a list of 18 candidates with the help of farmers and a battery of U. S. focus groups.
McBay is branding s biggest backer. I d rather be marketing a brand than selling products, says McBay, adding This is a big change for Monsanto.
Canadian farmers aren t going to get much chance to ignore it. The campaign here will start with an advertising blitz through the early summer, says Mike Nailor, Monsanto trait marketing manager for Eastern Canada. At first, those ads will be about the Genuity concept, but as we get into August, they ll start to get more specific, with ads and promotions linked to Monsanto s soybean and corn offerings.
This fall, Monsanto will use trade shows to give farmers an up-close look at how Genuity will be used, and then by spring, the Genuity logo will be the cornerstone of how the company prints its seedbags and tags, through Dekalb as well as through all its licensees.
A trait is not a trait, says Nailor. We believe our traits are better because of the system we use to develop them, and we believe it is good for farmers to know at a glance which traits came through that system.
Nailor says many farmers know that Monsanto has pushed forward with yield and stress traits for corn and soybeans. With the launch of Genuity, they ll start to hear how those traits are going to be integrated into their seed.
It s also clear that Monsanto has been perfecting the sales patter to go along with its Genuity launch. We want to help farmers differentiate between the innovator and the imitator, says Todd Younghans, trait manager for the West.
McBay says Monsanto has three objectives for Genuity. First, Genuity must unify all of the company s traits.
Currently, each major Monsanto trait such as herbicide resistance or insect protection has its own name and trademark, such as Roundup Ready and YieldGard. There s nothing in those logos to show that the traits are all from the same company.
In effect, each time Monsanto has launched a new trait, it has created a unique new brand, and now, the cumulative effect is getting out of hand. The company already has corn on the market that needs three separate logos to show the traits in each bag. Soon that will multiply. The company will have eight-gene stacks on sale within a couple years, and expects to have 12 to 15 traits in some hybrids within another five or six.
From a branding point of view, there s something even worse than the confusion. It s the loss of equity. Monsanto wants farmers to believe that its new traits are as good as Roundup Ready, but when a new trait is called something completely different, Nailor says, all the brand equity that was built up by Roundup Ready is lost.
McBay says Genuity must also simplify gene selection. The logo has keys which are meant to make it easier for farmers to see which seed varieties contain which genes, and then to compare how those varieties might perform in a specific field scenario. Genuity must provide a clearer path, McBay says. It must help farmers precisely align our technology offerings with their specific needs.
Finally, Genuity must also differentiate Monsanto genes from everyone else s. Our customers recognize the quality of our science, and we want to make it easier for them to see which products are based on that science.
McBay says Genuity is a long-term strategy. He talks about how it will be used 10 years out, and makes it clear that he doesn t see any sunset dates for the new brand.
He agrees a successful launch will be critical, and McBay s first job is to convince a product based company to become a brand marketer. That wasn t easy, especially because, he says, what we were doing wasn t broken.
Now that the Monsanto team is on board, he has to ensure uniform communications. It s one brand, McBay says. We all need to be saying the same thing, whether it s on television or in a print ad, or whether it s salesman talking to the customer.
Genuity demands discipline, McBay says. We need to be very, very consistent.
Along the way, though, Genuity is also giving Monanto a chance to celebrate its own successes. Says McBay of the launch, We re having a lot of fun. CG