Giddy up, partner.

What is branding? If you’re a B-school grad working at a Brooklyn startup, you might think you have a very different definition of the word than a fifth-generation Nebraska cattle rancher does.

You don’t.

Sure, your branding practices are as different as a ribeye steak and a vegan Korean taco from a food truck, but the goals and intentions are the same. Branding is the practice of identifying, protecting, and promoting your assets and your organization.

Ranchers since ancient Egyptian times have been using their own unique marks to distinguish their livestock from neighboring herds. Ranches will share grazing lands for their herds, and share marketplaces for their products. It’s important for ranchers and buyers to easily see where each animal comes from. And in the event that a rustler gets away with some of the herd, the authorities can instantly recognize the purloined livestock.

As a business enterprise, either for profit or nonprofit, you are sharing the landscape of your industry with hundreds, maybe thousands of similar organizations. Whether these organizations are collaborators or competitors, you still need a way to set yourself apart from the group. You want to protect your ideas and products, and you want your audience to associate your organization with your unique offerings.

Identify, protect, promote.

Your brand should emphasize why your organization is different from all of the other organizations in your industry. You should use your brand as a stamp of ownership on your ideas and programs to ensure that no other organization can poach your mission. And your brand should be a calling card for everything that your organization does. Your audience should be able to instantly associate your brand with your ideas, services, and products.

Here’s my favorite story about how one farmer uses the traditional practice of branding as modern branding–and why it works.

Still want to know more about branding? Contact me for an initial consultation!