A few weeks ago, one of our principals here at Graphica Inc, had the good fortune of spending nine days at McGinnis Meadows Ranch in northwestern Montana. You might be thinking, "great, but what does that have to do with branding (of the non-cattle variety, that is)", as it turns out, actually quite a bit.
Rodear: To gather and work cattle out of a herd held by riders, such as in a fence corner where there is no corral. Keep in mind that the cattle we're talking about here weigh up to 900 pounds each (and when you first begin learning, you rodear from the ground, literally face-to-face with these super-sized beasts). Once you understand the subtleties and nuances of how to influence or communicate with them, you graduate to rodearing on horseback. It's at this point that the communication becomes even more complex and refined. You are communicating with your horse at a deep level, without words. It's not about the obvious; how you use the reins, your legs, or touch the horse. It's also about tiny changes in your body posture, gentle shifts in your weight distribution and which calf you look at (or not). At this level, you can basically think, "I'd like the cattle to move to the left" and with very small subtle movements, you and the horse make the cattle, or just one calf, move to the left. You never physically touch the cattle, as a matter of fact depending on how "sticky" they are or not, you might work at a distance away from the herd. Communication is done on so many levels both consciously and subconsciously.
When rodearing, there are several positions a horse and rider can take. Some are "flanking" horses (how much pressure these give support the herd to stay moving straight, to move to the left or to the right). "Driving" horses push the herd; a little like your car's accelerator and brakes. Basically, the horse and riders are there to "support and influence" the cattle. In the end, it's all about how much pressure the driving horses give the herd that makes the herd move. Interestingly, wild animals when attacking their prey, and police and military (when trying to control riot crowds) use strategies very similar to rodearing.
Let's get back to corporate branding. How does all this cattle herding relate? At Graphica Inc, after almost nineteen years creating and strengthening brands and accompanying communications for corporations of all shapes and sizes, we know how important it is to regularly "rodear" your brand. It is important to consistently support and influence your brand on all levels to ensure that your audiences are moved. Are your driving horses consistently effective at getting your audiences to move? Are your flanking horses supporting your brand? If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your brand, or specific components of it, such as your tagline or your website.
The subtleties of rodearing are indeed interesting when related to corporate branding and illustrate well the necessity that all brand communications work together to create overall messaging that truly moves the herd in the direction you want it to go.