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What’s your brand’s story?

Progressive Dairy Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 20 July 2021

If you dabble in cattle or horses, you may have heard of the iconic “Four Sixes” brand.

Dating back to the cattle-wrangling days of the 1870s, the set of 6’s stamped side-by-side on a cow’s hide signified her ownership to the Burnett family of Denton, Texas. Rumor had it in the Old West that Captain Samuel Burk Burnett won the ranch with “four sixes” in a card game. Though that may be no more than folklore, it makes for a good story.

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Today, the brand lives on. The Four Sixes Ranch operates as a fifth-generation working ranch, with nearly 7,000 head of Angus cattle as well as a renowned group of performance and race horses that wear the Four Sixes brand.

However, the Four Sixes brand is more than just numbers across the ribs of a steer calf or on the hind quarter of a cutting horse. In our modern sense of the word, a “brand” is a unique identifier that differentiates one business, product or service from its competition in the marketplace. It becomes a symbol of a company’s history, quality, values and mission.

Simply stated: The brand tells a story.

The way a brand tells its story is the point of connection that not just leads to a transaction but builds loyalty with a customer or a consumer. Take, for example, the McCarty brothers and their partners, the VanTilburg brothers, at MVP Dairy in Celina, Ohio, who are on the cover of this issue. Their 4,400-cow dairy includes a state-of-the-art cross tunnel-ventilated barn as well as the interactive, three-level Dairy Learning Center, open for public education. Read the article "MVP Dairy: Built for a sustainable future".

While sustainable, progressive dairying may be what they do, the story of the McCarty family brand is in who they are: A modern-day family of pioneers. In the 1990s, Tom and Judy McCarty were milking 150 cows in northeast Pennsylvania and recognized the region was not conducive to bringing their four sons into the operation. So, in true pioneer fashion, they packed up and headed West, into unchartered territory, with little more than their grit and vision for the future. Today, McCarty Family Farms LLC is headquartered in Rexford, Kansas, and includes five dairies, a milk condensing plant, heifer yard and grain storage facility.

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Their story is one of overcoming obstacles, taking risks and likely having faced opposition or discouragement along the way. To me, that’s what makes it interesting and inspiring.

Think for a moment of the brands you support and the story behind them. In the dairy business, let’s look at Udder Tech Inc. The bibs and sleeves that have a staple place in many milking parlors got their start from Cheryl Mohn, a busy dairy farm mom who crafted a denim fanny pack to make milking in their Minnesota tiestall barn more efficient.

How about the magazine you hold in your hands right now? It got its start in founder Leon Leavitt’s basement nearly 30 years ago. Still a family-owned company today, our Progressive Dairy brand was founded on the Golden Rule as a guiding principle. The core values of promoting God, family and country are conveyed through our content and our conduct. In fact, our all-company meetings kick off each year with a blessing prayed over our meals and our meetings.

From these examples, do you see what makes a brand’s story compelling? Perhaps it’s the humble beginnings, shared values or a common struggle and the triumph over it.

Now let’s take this one step further and look at your dairy as not just a business but a brand to be marketed to the milk processor, your neighbors and consumers. What is the story of your brand? Think deeply for a moment, not just about what you do but why you do it. What events led you to where you are today? How can you incorporate the fabric of who you are into the story you share?

That’s what a brand’s story is all about. Whether a brand is seared into a cow’s hide or shared on social media, it is what you are known for and the ground upon which connection is made and trust is built.

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So, what is your brand’s story? end mark

Peggy Coffeen
  • Peggy Coffeen

  • Editor
  • Progressive Dairy
  • Email Peggy Coffeen

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