December 20, 2023
When Your Mission Markets Itself: A Nontraditional Approach by Bonton Farms
I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2023 Philanthropy Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas. One of the keynote speakers this year was Daron Babcock, the founder of Bonton Farms. The entire room was rapt as we listened to the story of this transformative organization.He further captivated a standing-room only audience in a breakout session later that day. I had to know more about his marketing and branding strategy, so I scheduled an interview with Daron a week later.
Marketing and branding are essential elements of any organization’s success, but what happens when you take a non-traditional approach? Here’s an inside look at the unconventional journey of Bonton Farms and how its unique branding has made a significant impact.
Bonton Farms started accidentally. Daron moved to Bonton, Texas, where he met six men recently released from prison, struggling to find jobs. Recognizing that these men needed to discover their own value, he initiated a workforce program. The focus was on qualities like a strong work ethic, problem-solving skills, a positive attitude, and value contribution, regardless of formal education or recent work experience. It was about helping these men discover their own potential.
The farm aspect came later, as they began cultivating vegetables, but ran into legal issues selling them in the city. In a bold move, they embraced the name “Bonton Farms,” even though it was initially just to challenge the city’s ban on farms within city limits. This branding approach sparked conversations and conveyed a deeper message about growth and cultivation.
Despite the accidental branding and legal challenges, Daron decided not to change the farm’s name. Bonton Farms has grown to become a symbol of transformation in a neighborhood formerly known for crime and poverty.
Bonton Farms’ story demonstrates the power of branding that goes beyond the surface and delivers a powerful message. This uniqueness attracts support, even from marketing agencies, which volunteered their support to tell Bonton Farms’ story to a wider audience.
Daron also spoke about his work with Stand Together, where they aim to address the systemic barriers facing disadvantaged communities. He believes that real change can only happen when we recognize the potential and capabilities of individuals in those communities.
Our conversation highlights the need for a new approach to social issues, acknowledging the problems we face as a society and finding innovative solutions. The story of Bonton Farms is a testament to the power of creative and authentic branding, and the importance of challenging the status quo to create meaningful change in our communities.
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