A Cattle Brand That Really Leaves Its Mark
Getting Creative with the New Family Business
The word “creative” is right in our name, so clearly it’s part of who we are. It’s in our bones. Our team members burst with creativity, and it shines through in all aspects of our lives … even outside of the office. Some would even say, we’re creative “till the cows come home.”
In fact, that last statement is spot-on for Rachel Bertsch, our Associate Digital Creative Director here at EPIC. Recently, Rachel’s parents—John and Brenda Walling—became the proud owners of the JB–W Ranch (pronounced J-B-BAR-W) in Cisco, Texas. When it came time to design their brand—both literally and creatively—they of course reached out to Rachel to lead the project. It was an interesting opportunity that Rachel would have never seen coming.
If you would’ve told me that my parents would retire and buy a 350-acre cattle ranch in Texas, I would’ve laughed in your face. But now I’m just a daughter of some cattle ranchers in Texas, worried about whether or not No. 28 has had her calf.
While her parents’ decision to move from Wisconsin and buy a ranch was a bit of a surprise, it gave Rachel a wonderful way to bring together two things she loves dearly—design and helping her family. “If you would’ve told me that my parents would retire and buy a 350-acre cattle ranch in Texas, I would’ve laughed in your face,” Rachel joked. “But now I’m just a daughter of some cattle ranchers in Texas, worried about whether or not No. 28 has had her calf.”
The design process itself was quite a journey, but one she was well-equipped to undertake. Starting at EPIC seven years ago as a designer, Rachel now leads creative strategy on most of the web projects that come out of EPIC. It’s a natural fit for her. She’s loved web design since she was introduced to it in college—and she’s especially passionate about user experience and everything that goes along with that side of design. She likes to jump into a project and understand all facets of the design—strongly considering the audience experience and how users will interact with a product page, a menu, or a call to action. From there, it becomes all about providing solutions with the audience in mind.
So how did she jump in and help her parents at the ranch? At first, she thought, “Great! This will be easy!” Or at least as easy as a logo or branding project can be. But it wasn’t.
As Rachel began to research, she found out that there are a lot of guidelines you have to follow when creating a ranch brand. And in this case, we mean “brand” as in the hot (or now, more humanely, frozen) iron used to identify cattle. For instance, because the mark is branded on cattle to identify where they came from, it must be both visible from a distance while covering as little flesh as possible to make the branding process less painful. It also has to be connected—meaning one solid shape or symbol—so they can be read every which way: right-to-left, up-down, left-to-right, outside-in, and all around.
The actual design process—including kickoff, research, sketches, designs, and final files—took about sixteen hours to complete. Most of that time centered around researching and exploring concepts and ideas. She came up with about 50 sketches in total, since there were so many potential design solutions.
After completing the sketches, Rachel presented the concepts to her “client” (dad) and he gave feedback on which ones he liked, including what details he didn’t like about some of the others. “It’s key to understand why someone doesn’t like something instead of just taking the feedback that they don’t like it,” Rachel explained. “It is my job as the designer to ask ‘why?’ and push them to give me more constructive feedback.”
In this instance, her dad kept talking about how the designs weren’t “Western enough.” So, she drilled down and asked him to clarify what exactly makes a design “Western.” He eventually revealed that he thought of Western as “extended and a bit stretched.” This is not something she would have understood had she not pushed her dad with more follow-up questions. In these deeper conversations with any client, “oftentimes I find that it is more about style than about the general direction of the mark or logo,” Rachel explained. “Asking deeper questions prevents me from additional rounds of revisions with the client and unnecessary edits.”
In the end, the Wallings came away with a clean and versatile logo that they were able to incorporate throughout the entire ranch—from the front gate, to the cattle brands, and even on their new merchandise. It was exactly what they had envisioned when purchasing the ranch.
They just needed to find someone who would truly listen to them and had the skills and abilities to make their dream a reality. (You know, someone who is like a daughter to them!) And Rachel delivered.
That attention to detail is what EPIC’s creative team always strives to deliver. Remaining adaptable and curious throughout the creative process inspires alternate ways of thinking and allows us to truly understand the heart behind each client’s vision—the “why behind the what.” It’s only then that we’re able to harness our creativity to give our client’s vision a voice, and express it in a way that captures the attention of an audience. And because creativity is collaborative by nature, we find that our most innovative results happen when we keep the process interactive and participatory.
How about you? Is it time for a brand refresh or a change? We’re here for you. If you’d like to see how our creativity might be of help, drop us a message. We’ll make sure your brand leaves a lasting impression.