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Protect a Historic Brand

King Ranch

Few companies can claim to have used the same brand—literally and figuratively—for more than 150 years. King Ranch is one of them. Its logo is based on an actual cast-iron brand used since the 1850s to thwart cattle rustlers. This iconic South Texas institution epitomizes the culture of the American West. While its ranching legacy lives on, King Ranch today is also a large corporation with a variety of agribusiness, retail, and tourism interests.

The Challenge

  • King Ranch’s distinctive Running W brand stands for uncompromising quality, old-West heritage, bold ruggedness, self-reliance, and authenticity. However, its visual representations have varied over the past century and a half. FrogDog needed to comb through the ranch’s history and its varied brand representations to develop recommendations for fixed brand images and rules for consistent presentation.
  • Through acquisitions and organic growth, King Ranch now operates a diverse group of businesses: cattle ranching, feedlots, pecan processing and sales, commodity marketing and processing, recreational hunting, ecotourism, retail leather goods and home furnishings, commercial printing, farm equipment, turfgrass growing and sales, and vast citrus, cotton, grain, and sugarcane farms. Each business uses a variation of the traditional King Ranch brand mark.
  • Other companies recognize the value of King Ranch’s brand and often seek permission to emblazon their products with the Running W. King Ranch cobrands with only a couple of closely aligned products: limited-edition Beretta firearms and Ford F-Series trucks and Expeditions.
  • King Ranch executives wanted to establish consistent visual standards that would further strengthen the brand and protect it from unauthorized use.

The FrogDog Solution

FrogDog developed a thorough and unique brand guide to help standardize all visual representations of King Ranch.

  • Based on classic uses of the Running W icon, FrogDog’s design team developed a small group of approved logos and defined how they should be used on a variety of materials, such as promotional items, Web sites, business cards, letterhead, and signage.
  • The design team also defined a set of approved fonts and a color palette that reflects the earth, plants, and animals of King Ranch.
  • The brand guide’s introduction clearly explained to employees unaccustomed to such documents why and how it should be used to protect and maintain brand consistency.
  • FrogDog staffers reveled in the rare opportunity to describe the use of an actual cattle brand. The guide lists where, when, how, and which King Ranch livestock should be branded.
  • The cobranding section details King Ranch’s current corporate relationships and educates employees, board members, and other stakeholders about the elements of successful brand partnerships.
  • The guide also includes sample legal documents granting permission for the brand’s use by hunting lessees and nonprofit partners.
  • In keeping with King Ranch’s proud legacy, the guide includes historical background on the ranch and sidebars highlighting its milestones.

The Results

  1. The brand guide was well received by King Ranch employees, and early reports indicate that many refer to it regularly to discern proper and improper uses of the brand.
  2. FrogDog uses the brand guide when designing corporate documents for King Ranch, such as brochures and annual reports.
  3. FrogDog used the brand guidelines it developed to help design the award-winning Saddle Shop exhibit at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Learn more here.

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