Apple Hill Farm
A Story Hidden
In 2001, with a two-year-old boy in tow, Lee Rankin left her hometown in Kentucky and started an alpaca farm atop an Appalachian Mountain in North Carolina, where she hoped to create a safe home and haven for her and her son. She had zero background in farming, but a heart full of faith and a will full of grit. In fact, she named her son Will.
Her needs were clear: The farm was not getting enough tours or attention. Could we help?
The funny thing is she never told anyone in her community about herself and her story. When you looked at the farm website, you couldn’t find any photos of her, of Will, or even of alpacas – the mystical warm creatures that had drawn Lee to the mountaintop in the first place. The website was mostly text about farm tours and a general history.
We knew we could help.
The Power of Story
Lee had worked with Jeffrey in our author’s mentorship program Your Captivating Book, so we had a working sense of her personal story. In our Research & Discovery, we knew that Lee’s passionate, creative personality plus her remarkable story would be a major attraction not just of visitors but also potentially of media.
In other words, we felt that Lee’s personal story could put Apple Hill Farms on the map even before the memoir she’s writing comes out.
It also became clear that Lee’s main theme is Family. The farm itself is a family where animals and people co-exist, and it also is a place where people come now to feel a sense of belonging, of presence, and of being in touch with what’s real.
We wove those themes into the logo and taglines. The silhouette of alpaca to child, facing eye to eye, reflects the power both of Lee’s story as well as what happens when visitors arrive. Instant bond. The logo’s deep red not only suggests “apple” but more it evokes Lee’s contagious passion – not to mention her distinct red hair – that keeps people coming back for more.
We also wove the theme of family into the framing of the farm store.
Life After Launch: Triple Results
Since the website launch, farm tour profits have tripled. Visitors constantly reference Lee’s personal story as an attraction. The farm received the county’s top award in tourism, Lee is often asked to speak at organizational gatherings, she’s expanded her team, and she and the farm have been the focus on magazine, news, and top radio show attention. Her team has a vision and knows what they’re about and how they each play a part in the evolving Brand Story.
From our point of view, the best results are two-fold: The founder has owned her Story and message, and as a result more and more people benefit from the farm’s special medicine.
We’re working with Lee to finish and publish her memoir, and we’ve also recently consulted with her in shaping her pitch and pitch deck for support of an exciting new alpaca sock project (the best socks ever!).