Corn is frequently viewed as simply a food product. However this mindset overlooks the extreme versatility of the corn kernel and its many uses - from improving the taste of our food and longevity of our cosmetics, to making plastics more environmentally friendly and medicine easier to swallow.
In Fall 2017, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) partnered with FP1 Strategies to overcome several key challenges to their brand identity and broader marketing strategy.
CRA sought to: strategically communicate their shifting focus towards bioproducts; educate policymakers and millennial consumers on the role corn serves in products we use on a daily basis; and modernize the CRA brand to emphasize the essential quality of the corn kernel and how CRA moves the corn industry forward.
FP1 set out to promote corn's essential quality across CRA's target market with a revamped brand identity, marketing collateral, website, and even an updated office space. With CRA's history dating back to 1913, this challenge presented FP1 with several opportunities to help grow their history and modernize CRA's approach to conveying the important role corn plays in our lives.
We began by overhauling CRA's brand and website – bringing everything from the color palette to the design of their homepage up to modern standards.
For CRA's new logo, we used a bright, vibrant color palette pulled from actual corn kernels and stalk leaves to shift the focus back to where it matters – the kernel. By placing a single corn kernel at the center of the logo, we used each shade to symbolically represent a different component of the kernel and, in turn, the versatility of corn products.
The new brand served as a launching point to revamp CRA's full range of collateral and marketing materials – from business cards and email signatures to notepads and corn-based coffee mugs.
We worked with CRA to incorporate the new brand elements throughout their office space – including corn carpet, corn chairs, and an entire wall designed to highlight a multitude of corn-based products.
We then started the Corn.org website development process with a thorough audit of CRA's digital assets. Our team dug through existing quantifiable data, held focus groups with CRA staff members, and conducted a custom survey for their member companies. The results of these efforts informed the website development process from initial wireframes to final product.
First, we added two-factor authentication to secure the website and ensure only trusted individuals could log in.
Second, to make content easier to find, we designed a streamlined member section, emphasizing materials specifically requested by CRA's members. For public content, we created a comprehensive resource center that includes charts, PDFs, reports, and more – utilizing tags and categories to add a level of intentional redundancy to help members, policymakers, and consumers find the right information.
Finally, to reach our millennial target audience, we developed a section of the website to highlight the "Kernel of Innovation," incorporating "fun facts" throughout the website. This shareable content is easily digestible and helps educate CRA's target audiences about the hundreds of products corn is in.
That last piece of our brand relaunch was two separate paid media campaigns to build on the momentum of CRA's new brand and website.
The first campaign was a month-long effort to highlight CRA's rebrand amongst members, influencers, and policymakers in DC. We used interest targeting on advertising platforms to identify influencers and policymakers, and placed tracking pixels on CRA's website to develop a key remarketing audience of visitors who showed the most interested in CRA. These tactics allowed us to provide customized messaging across all advertising platforms to individual audiences.
The second campaign was a year-long, nationwide effort to share the benefits of corn with a broader consumer audience. Using research conducted by one of FP1's partner polling firms, we discovered millennials are very receptive to CRA's messaging on plant-based products and bioproducts. This finding shaped our content with the primary goal of raising awareness and acquiring millennial followers. Our tactics included educating our target audience with informational articles and custom graphics of corn bioproducts.
Over the course of 2018, we saw each of our efforts pay off tremendously. After launching the new brand, CRA gained earned media mentions in Politico, the Hagstrom Report and Agri-Pulse. MSNBC's Chuck Todd even mentioned CRA on a fun segment about candy corn – highlighting the broad impact of the new simple, modern logo.
The new Corn.org experienced a 54% increase in page visits, with users spending 40% more time on the site. The Kernel of Innovation page is the second most visited page, with people spending over 2:30 on the page – demonstrating the effectiveness of our strategy to reach more consumers and educate them about the versatility of corn.
The month-long digital advertising campaign to promote CRA's new brand included ads running on Facebook, Twitter, and Google. More than 70,000 unique users were reached in our target audience of members, influencers, and policymakers. Nearly 3,000 clicks were driven to CRA's website at an average cost-per-click of $1.23, well below the average $1.50 - $3.00 we've experienced for similar clients.
The ongoing, nationwide campaign has achieved tremendous success in 2018, and will continue to run in 2019. Our research-driven approach has allowed us to reach a tightly-targeted and engaged audience of nearly 100,000 unique users, driving more than 3,700 clicks to the website. Since launching in October, CRA's Facebook page has gone from 0 to over 17,000 likes – far surpassing our campaign goals ahead of schedule.
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