Your brand image is more than a pretty logo that identifies your business, product, or service. It’s a mix of associations customers make based on every interaction they have with your business. But small businesses do not always give the right importance to it, don’t really think about their brand image until there’s a problem with the image they are developing, so I was really surprised when I moved to Valencia a few months ago and discovered a local rice brand with a nice brand image and strong communication.
I had the pleasure to spend some hours with them in their shop talking about the importance of branding for small businesses.
Miquel: My family has always been involved in rice cultivation, my grandfather was a farmer and so was my father. I studied agri-food engineering with the idea of continuing my family’s rice-growing tradition but giving value to the product that my family has cultivated for so many years.
Teresa: I was not considering working in agriculture until I met Miquel. Agriculture is not a sector that young people feel attracted to but as soon as I met Miquel, I could see a future together in this business and I really liked the idea of being in contact with nature, so I went to study agro-ecological production.
Teresa: The first idea was born in Miquel’s mind 6 years ago, this abstract idea of giving value to the rice, in some way, and bringing it closer to the final consumer. After finishing our studies, we were looking for a way to turn this idea into something real.
Miquel: In 2018 thanks to a trip to Australia, where we worked on an organic rice farm, we could see how to transform our idea into a viable business. The farm where we worked had its own rice brand and they were selling directly to customers. Thanks to this real example we could see clearly the steps to follow to turn our idea into reality.
Teresa: In 2019, when we got back from this wonderful experience, we decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign and in 2020 we launched our company.
Teresa: Most small producers don’t usually take much care of their image, so we have seen this opportunity as a way to differentiate ourselves from the competition. We also wanted to bring something new, here in Valencia usually rice is sold through distributors, but we wanted to sell directly to customers, and the fact of having a strong brand gave us the opportunity to sell directly to people. We are happy because most of our sales are made directly through our website.
Miquel: When consumers buy a product, they aren’t just buying a product or service; they’re buying what your brand stands for. That’s why it was so important for us to design our brand image to convey exactly what we wanted people to understand about us, to get closer to us so they can get to know who made this rice and understand why we do what we do, what are our values, what we stand for. We also wanted to enhance the value of the product and taking care of the design helped us give value to the rice. All the design that is part of our brand helps us to communicate our identity.
Miquel: The truth is that in this sector there are high entry barriers, the investments for the land or the machinery you need are quite high. We have been lucky that my family already worked the land. The advice will be to move around a lot, ask a lot of questions, go to many places.
Teresa: When you start something you have to be open and willing to tell your project to many people who can help you with something. Don’t stop at the first hurdle, look out for fundings, check out different business models, travel to meet people that are already doing what you are dreaming doing. Be passionate, open and travel to discover how they do it in other parts of the world.