Herefords Australia won’t be diverted from its mission to cement itself as a modern breed adapting to change by criticism of its rebranding.
A new logo depicting a white stylised Hereford head of abstract DNA is here to stay, despite a social media campaign urging a return to the old trademark.
HA says it has been contacted by many members who love the new look and negative comments on its Facebook page need to be kept in perspective.
The 90-plus comments slamming the new logo - some of them very harsh: “9 drumsticks and a breast. Nice promotion for the chook industry” - actually only come from around 30 voices, some not even HA members, the society says.
To put that in context, there are 1800 HA members.
The modern brand was developed by South Australian marketing agency Bigwig. The agency, which has no ties to agriculture, was intentionally used to bring a fresh perspective to the concept.
HA clearly knew it would be a tough sell in some quarters, commenting on resistance to change inhibiting its flexibility over the years as part of the launch of the rebrand.
Following the social media criticism, the society’s marketing and development committee member Tim Burvill said: “We went into it with our eyes wide open - we knew there would be some negative feedback.
“Generally when people have a strong association with a brand, they react more negatively when it’s changed.
“HA sees it as a positive that we have a passionate member base.”
HA had also found that where people understand what the logo represents and the reasoning behind it, they were much more supportive.
The primary purpose of the new look was to signify to the rest of the industry that things are changing and Herefords are at the forefront of that, Mr Burvill said.
“We have moved into a genomic era for cattle breeding and that is something Herefords are embracing,” he said.
“The beef industry is the target market. We want to represent the fact we are a modern breed organisation that is aware of the need to change.
“There are so many examples of companies who refused to change - Kodak, Nokia - and become obsolete.
“This is about signalling to the feedlots, the abattoirs and all our customers that we are listening to what they are telling us, and we are adapting.”
There was no pulling of punches for those who weren’t a fan: “Another nail in the coffin of our beautiful Hereford cattle. So so sad and out of touch” and “Totally embarrassing!! Wake up before it too late!!”
HA says everyone is entitled to an opinion and has not taken down the online barrage.
One recurring theme seemed to be the question of why “something that ain’t broke” was being fixed.
Mr Burvill’s response: “If you look at membership, the breed has been in steady decline.
“It’s our duty to address that and to make changes.
“This logo is the start of that process.
“Bigger things are about to happen in Herefords, this is just the beginning.”
Some posts suggested strong brands such as McDonald’s and KFC never had to rebrand.
“That is incorrect,” Mr Burvill said.
“A simple Google search will show you these brands, and indeed almost all well known brands, undergo constant evolution.
“Businesses that are successful will inevitably have to rebrand themselves to some extent because change is interconnected with success.”