Branding!

Spring was always branding time. Growing up in western Oklahoma, I knew when dad saw these first blades of green grass peeking through the ground he would one day soon announce, “Get to bed early tonight kids. Tomorrow is branding day.”

What does that have to do with writing? Hang on a minute.

The next morning we woke to a sense of excitement when Mom had the iron skillet full of hot homemade biscuits, a platter of crispy fried fresh side bacon on the table and a dozen eggs sizzling in bacon grease on the stove. We’d slather the biscuits with fresh-churned butter and wild sandhill plum jam while gulping down a big cup of strong black coffee percolated in the blue granite pot. Yum!

Our uncles and some neighbors usually came over to help. The cowboys might ride over on their saddle horse if they lived close or drive over with old Smokey in the horse trailer. We did not have a big cattle herd but branding day was still hard work. We had to round up all the cattle before separating out the new crop that wasn’t branded. As the youngest member, I rode along on my Shetland pony, Trixie, to bring the dogies in from the pasture.

The familiar smell of wood smoke drifted from the barnyard mingled with the usual dust and manure in the brisk morning air. While dad’s “Slash E” branding iron lay on the fire getting red hot, the men herded the calves into the corral and then pushed then into a wooden crowding chute–kind of like a cradle–that held them tight standing up. With one man on each side, the steer got vaccinated and branded within minutes. If the yearling was male he also lost a minor body part and got that area smeared with antiseptic. It was quick and routine, but he didn’t like it and usually let them know,

I was a girl, my brothers would say with a smirk, so I better just stay back out of the way. I happily did just that because I didn’t like the wood smoke, the smell of burning hair and flesh mixed with the dust stirred up by the calves, or the noise of men yelling combined with cattle bawling and horses whinnying, I tried not to cry when the steers bawled out in pain from the hot branding iron and a sharp knife cut.

Now here comes the connection to writing. What do these guys nave in common?

Larry, the Cable Guy
Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
Clark Kent, Superman
Judy Howard, the Quilt Lady
James Michener, Author
Bill Gates, Computer Guru

Yep, you are right. They are known by their “brand.”

Branding is the method to mark your style of writing and distinguish your product from anyone else’s. For the most effective branding, a memorable name and simple slogan should be combined with an instantly recognizable and unique logo. For instance, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s logo is the Colonel Sanders design—a smiling image of his face.

I picked my logo of the outline of a friendly buffalo. My two passions are genealogy and writing along with pride in my hometown of Buffalo. I have not yet narrowed it down enough, but I am working on it.

What is your brand?