Riding for the brand conjures up visions of the wild-west - images of cowboys pushing cattle across the dusty prairie and ranch hands branding calves. Those ranchers and those cowboys are the founders of the cowboy code that we teach our students to follow.
Riding for the brand is one of the more critical elements of the cowboy code. A brand is a ranch’s symbol of ownership. Each ranch has a unique one that speaks to the very essence of the family that owns it.
In cowboy terms, riding for the brand is an unwavering commitment to the ranch that pays your bills and puts food on your table. It’s a commitment to cooperate and work with the other ranch hands, no matter any personal disagreements.
Even if you dislike your boss, defending the brand against anyone tarnishing its reputation is required. Bob’s grandfather used to tell him, “be careful who you work for, son. Once you take their money, you ride for their brand." We instill this concept into all of our graduates. It’s an essential one to carry with you throughout your career.
Ride for the Brand as a Student
The same concept applies when you are a farrier riding in someone else’s truck. You agree to take someone else's money; you're riding for their brand 100% of the time. If you can't give 100% loyalty to that truck, you need to stay out of it.
Don't ever talk bad about the person that pays you. That would be a direct violation of the cowboy code. Your loyalty and respect for the person you work for (or lack thereof) speaks to who you are, not the owner of the truck. It says that you're trustworthy and loyal (or not). If you continuously badmouth everyone you work with, you’ll develop a reputation as someone who can’t be trusted.
Your Brand Goes Beyond a Logo
In today's world, many people think that a brand is a logo. It goes so much farther than that. Your brand is your promise to your clients. It tells them what kind of service you provide, what kind of person you are, and how you differentiate yourself from your competition. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and people to perceive you and your business.
A unique logo is an excellent thing to have, but it's just a small part of your brand. There is tons of information you can get online about developing a brand, but establishing a brand isn't something you can do in 20 minutes. You must think long and hard over who you are, where you want your business to go.
Your brand also encompasses who your clients are and what they get from your services. Always be honest with your clients. Stive for your honesty to be part of your brand and ensure you are 100% capable of keeping every promise you make.
Most people focus on negativity. Your clients don’t even think about you unless something goes wrong; a horse loses a shoe, you miss an appointment, or you don't return a phone call. Your brand should highlight the positive aspects of you and your service to combat this.
Your clients and their environment should allow you to fulfill 100% of your brand. If they don’t, consider getting rid of that client. Doing anything less than what you know each horse needs, is a failure to ride for your brand.
People are not emotional about the roof of their home. A roofing contractor doesn't have to worry about incorporating much emotion into the brand he's developing for his company.
Being a farrier is different. Our clients have a deep emotional attachment to their horses. They sometimes put an unrealistic and disproportionate amount of importance on the horse’s feelings, but we can't discount that.
No homeowner will tell a roofing contractor to be careful because that roof doesn't like men because it had a terrible experience with a male roofer 20 years ago. But as farriers, we have to factor these things in every day. The emotional aspects of horse ownership need to be part of your brand. If you fail to be sensitive to the horse owner’s emotions (within reason), you’ll probably find they called another farrier.
Avoid Brand Dismantling
Brand dismantling happens when you regularly break your promises. It starts when you become indifferent toward clients or invent excuses as to why you can’t perform.
Brand dismantling happens a lot when a farrier’s personal life takes over their business life. It's corrosive and destructive. Brand dismantling always leads to a loss of income, and you should do whatever it takes to avoid it happening to you.
The best brands are built on a strong idea that the business owner can hold onto and commit to for a long time. Good brands show that you're different from your competition. They give you a good reputation and generate referrals.
Your brand represents your integrity and helps you stay focused when the going gets tough. Once you develop your brand, ride for it 100% of the time. Apply Now