If you were to Google the term equine branding, you would find a bunch of articles and photos of a practice that dates back centuries. In the world of agriculture, ranchers often brand their herd to deter thieves, identify certain lineages, or highlight foal years. It’s what most think of in the industry when you say branding.
However, it’s time to talk about a different kind of branding. I’m talking about branding your business.
What is Equine Branding?
First off, we have to understand the difference between a business and a brand. A business creates a product or offers a service to customers in exchange for money. Businesses are tangible and they exist to help people, employ personnel, and generate profit.
A brand on the other hand is more ethereal. A brand is the identity of your business beyond the products or services. It is the collection of feelings people experience when interacting with your business. Branding is the bigger picture of your business and why it exists.
Chick-fil-A is a great example of a brand. When you think Chick-fil-A, you think of good chicken, waffle fries, friendly staff, dairy cows, fast drive-thrus, and even the phrase “my pleasure”. They go beyond just being a business focused on driving profit. They create a solid brand identity that offers their customers an exceptional and repeatable experience.
Equine branding is the act of establishing a brand identity for your equine business. Whether you run a boarding facility, sell custom saddles, provide equine dental services, or anything in between, you must have a deep understanding of a few things:
- What makes your offering distinct from competitors,
- Why you are needed in the marketplace,
- The type of people who are motivated to buy your product or service,
- How to communicate your brand message so people understand what you are selling and why they need it, and
- How you will create a positive experience for those clients before, during, and after they work with you.
Why is Equine Branding Important?
Branding is the key to standing out from the competition and creating client retention. By getting strategic about your branding, you understand the who, what, where, and why of your horse business. Then you apply that overarching strategy to the tactical aspect of equine marketing.
- A strong equine brand tells clients what to expect while working with you. When you clearly articulate what you do, why you do it, and how you do it, people understand the promise you are making to them. This generates trust which is so valuable in a relational industry. Horses are people’s investments, livelihoods, and beloved pets. To ask someone to provide a service or product for them, they have to trust you on some level. When you tell people what they will get and hold up your end of the bargain by providing exactly that (or more so!), they become loyal returning customers. And you can bet that if you make one person very happy in the horse industry, they will tell their barn mates, their vet, their mom, their trainer, and basically anyone that will listen. Met expectations equal referrals (aka ca-ching!).
- A strong equine brand helps you connect with clients on an emotional level. Branding is strategic storytelling in action. When a business understands their client base on a deep level, how their product or service is different from others selling the same thing, and their mission to improve their lives with that product or service, they tell a compelling story. These stories welcome people in and ask them to play their own role in the story. And if you’ve spent any time with horse people… you know we are an emotional bunch! I can only say this because I cry during every horse movie and get chills any time I watch a horse gallop. The lives of people in the industry revolve around horses, so their purchases are inherently emotional. If your brand can connect with them on an emotional level, you are one step ahead of the competition.
- A strong equine brand stands out from others in the same space. The best brands are unique. They know what makes them special and they own it. This might be their experience in the industry – they could be the most well-known custom saddle maker or they might operate a breeding farm that has been in the family for decades. It might be how they treat their customers with friendly respect (we all know that one rein maker who knows everyone at the local shows). It could even be how quickly they ship out their products and how it always come in the best packaging around. Customers pick you for a reason, so own it! After all, they say in a field of horses… be a unicorn.
- A strong equine brand is well-known and easily recognized. Have you ever heard the saying keep it simple, stupid? It comes from a principle in the US Navy that in essence advocates for the most simple system possible, but it applies to branding. When you choose to offer one thing to your customers well, your opportunities will grow. I know it sounds counterintuitive but less really is more. Offering only a handful of products or services that you can consistently deliver, helps your brand stand out. Would you rather be the person that sells the best saddles or the saddlemaker who also sells breast collars and boots and bridles and buckets and bucking chutes and Banamine and belts? It’s a mouthful and just plain confusing even thinking of it.
Components of a Strategic Equestrian Brand
Before you can even begin to think about the visual identity of your horse business, you must first gain clarity about the strategy behind it. This will serve as the foundation for your brand. Once equipped with the following, you will be able to grow your business to new levels:
- Brand Statement: A brand statement is a concise statement that clearly explains what you offer, who you offer it to, and what makes you different from others in the space.
- Brand Values: Brand values are what you stand for as a business that act as a guide for actions in your business. These are promises you make to your customers.
- Brand Mission: Your brand mission is the long-term objective of your business and how you will achieve it.
- Brand Personality: The personality of your brand is a set of human characteristics associated with how you conduct business.
- Brand Visuals: Your brand visuals are what people might first associate with branding – your colors, typography, logo, and photographic assets.
Branding is pivotal to success in entrepreneurship. Branding is how Fortune 500 companies can do what they do. Branding is how businesses last for generations on end. Branding is how you grow your client base and successfully raise your prices.
So where do you even begin?
The first step towards elevating your business into a brand is to create a strong brand identity. I am so passionate about small businesses in the horse industry, that I am excited to offer Branding Your Equine Business. It’s a workbook that walks you step by step through gaining clarity on your brand. You will be guided through the basics of understanding the who, what, where, and why of your business then transforming those into your brand strategy. The best part about this workbook? I am offering it to passionate equine entrepreneurs completely free.
Follow this link to get your copy delivered to your inbox so you can take charge of your equine business. This is for makers, retailers, and service providers alike.
Are you ready to get to work branding your equine business?