In his poem “Ride for the Brand,” Red Steagall, the cowboy poet of Texas, paints a vivid picture of an old, weathered cowboy passing along the wisdom of his years to a younger companion:
“. . . ‘Son, a man’s brand is his own special mark
That says this is mine, leave it alone.
You hire out to a man,
Ride for his brand
And protect it like it was your own.’ “
The old cowboy’s advice conveys wisdom for us in the land-grant university, as well. We are living and working in an increasingly competitive and noise-filled environment: a strong brand can help us to stand out—but we need to stand out for the right reasons. We must make sure that everything we do is branded with our university, research, or Extension identity, and we must protect the integrity and trustworthiness of our brand.