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A Legacy of Innovation

DEKALB

hlk | dekalb
dekalb

Strong Past. Powerful Future.

The DEKALB brand has a rich history, dating back nearly 100 years. This longevity is a testament to its credibility — farmers have trusted DEKALB for generations. Yet, looking backwards is not how iconic brands are built. They must look to the future, trailblazing new paths and introducing technology that will ensure a staunch foothold for forthcoming generations.

So, HLK helped the brand transition from being seen as a legacy brand to being seen as the agricultural technology experts who are leading the industry into an even more prosperous future. To do so, we brought the brand’s commitment to innovation into the spotlight.

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“What I've enjoyed most about working with HLK is the energy they bring to the process. Their ability to deliver consistently above expectations in both day-to-day activities and larger initiatives is astounding.”

Rick Myroup | Dekalb

Rick Myroup | Marketing Manager, DEKALB

A Shift in Audience

The need for a messaging overhaul became evident as DEKALB saw a natural shift in their primary audience — the older, well-established growers who had built their own businesses on DEKALB products were beginning to pass on their operations to their more tech-savvy, more information-driven sons. The younger generation had inherited the decision-making power.

HLK | Dekalb
HLK | Dekalb

Refocusing to this much younger audience presented challenges of its own:

  • We had to rethink how we would speak to them, where we’d reach them, and what they’d expect from their interactions with the brand.
  • Understanding that this audience is much more engaged online (versus offline/traditional media, but also relative to the older audience), we needed a more thorough and relevant strategy for digital communications.
  • And finally, we needed DEKALB to stand apart by providing superior products and customer experiences.

Fueling Them with Facts

The shift in audience was just the first challenge. DEKALB’s commitment to innovation was not new. In fact, it has always been working behind-the-scenes, helping the brand stay so strong over the years. So, how do we tell our audience a story they may have already heard, but actually get them to care about it? We needed to give our info-hungry farmers the technology-based tools they’ve been looking for, without trying to win them over with hard-sell marketing.

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“It's rewarding to work with a client that wants to push their industry forward.”

Dave Mikush | HLK

Dave Mikush | Associate Creative Director, HLK

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Breeding HQ

DEKALB has an extensive, international breeding program that is a big part of their product innovation. But most people haven’t thought about breeding since high school science class. (Punnett Squares, anyone?) HLK took on the challenge of turning a tedious subject into a compelling and useful online experience: Breeding HQ.

Still, we knew that “making breeding cool” wasn’t the solution for convincing growers to care. So, why should they care about breeding? Because it has everything to do with the thing they care about more than anything — performance. We started by focusing on specific breeding facilities and trial plot locations to show that the impressive results weren’t just grown in test tubes.

Custom Iconography

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Page Navigation

Content is organized into modules and subsections, which are easily navigable through the prominent side arrows. Tertiary elements like video and images can be expanded to fill the frame.

hlk | dekalb

Original Illustration

We created original illustrations to ensure that the Fun Facts section lived up to its name.

hlk | dekalb

Putting Our Agility to the Test

Halfway through, the content took a new direction. The focus shifted from specific breeding facilities and trial plot locations to the process and the breeders. With a few key design choices, we kept the look and feel we’d developed and avoided a complete re-work. In the end, we turned a complex process into a compelling, easy-to-understand story.

Initial Approach

Final Execution

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Acres of Gold

One of the biggest challenges corn growers are facing is pest management. Corn is a highly profitable crop, so some farmers choose to plant corn continuously, instead of rotating to another crop. However, that choice can lead to increased corn rootworm pressure, which puts their entire crop at risk.

Growers are no strangers to agronomic advice about how to deal with this problem. But everyone has their own “right” way of doing things. And there are important tasks to do literally all year long. Who can remember all of it? And who should they trust?

To help growers better manage pests while protecting their profits and the industry as a whole, HLK and DEKALB developed Acres of Gold. This digital resource not only helps growers practice good stewardship and encourage their colleagues to follow, it also showcases DEKALB’s thought leadership on this crucial issue. What’s more, it’s a comprehensive guide on which growers can rely throughout the entire year.

Creating this comprehensive resource, no joke, took hours and hours of meetings with the entire team. It sounds labor-intensive, but this first-person education approach meant that all team members were on the same page. No brand managers had to spend extensive blocks of time downloading the creative team. And nobody missed out on crucial details from getting a second-hand re-telling of all of this complex information.

Growth Stage Renderings

Using more basic, university-provided illustrations as a starting point, we created high-fidelity 3D renders to give the Growth Stage section a nice zoom feature.

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Chapter-Style Navigation

The user has the ability to navigate by season, or by yield factor, so we had to create a seamless, two-way experience. The chapter bar and sliding menu makes navigating the site breeze.



hlk | dekalb

Cohesive Data Visuals

We pulled content from a number of expert and academic institutions so creating a cohesive visual identity for the data was key.



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Moving Forward

A brand overhaul doesn’t happen in a matter of weeks, or even months. HLK has put DEKALB well on its way to being seen as a forward-thinking brand that can not only keep up with, but also can initiate important changes in the future of agriculture.

HLK | Dekalb

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