The Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, originally the Girls Rodeo Association, is the oldest women’s sports organization in American history. In 1948, 38 like-minded women banded together to form the first ever professional sports organization created by women for women in hopes of changing the trajectory of women riders within the male-dominated sport. Originally, the WPRA created space for cowgirls to ditch the beauty pageants in favor of legitimate competition. Today’s riders are continuing to break records, make history, and empower future cowgirls.
We cannot understand rodeo as we know it today without first recognizing the contributions of BIPOC riders. In a white-washed perspective of history, rodeo gained roots in 19th century cattle-farming within the domain of the white male ranchers. However, rodeo’s roots ran deeper, fueling community culture and economic activity in Native American societies.
Organizations like the Bill Pickett Rodeo, the International Gay Rodeo Association, and the Indian National Finals Rodeo continue to honor the significant involvement BIPOC cowboys and cowgirls continue to have in building the West.
In depth research has proven that almost all established rodeo organizations lack a cohesive brand identity, visual communication, and personality. BTB’s livelier voice paired with some traditional grit reaffirms that rodeo continues to be an integral component to Western life, heritage, and culture. BTB’s established brand identity and brand system positions itself to meld the historical with the contemporary.
The goal has not been for cowgirls to fit into the pre-established male-dominated sphere of rodeo, but instead to stand out of it, highlighting the unique impact that women have had on the sport for almost 100 years.
Throughout history, women have formed alliances, organizations, sisterhoods, coalitions, and solidarities to combat varying oppressions and injustices. This is factual; these are histories that we are aware of and reflect on, creating change becomes much more effective together than apart.
What’s a sisterhood of cowgirls? A herd. A herd of women barreling towards the arena gates. Conceptually, the two homophones “herd” and “heard” communicate the necessity for unity, as well as the very reason unity is needed. A herd of stampeding horses are louder than a lone pony.
The visual identity supports the brand's concept through its careful use of color, texture, imagery, and typography. The careful combination of explosive warm-tones with hardier cool-tones create a balance of celebration and grit. Photography is crucial in telling a cowgirl’s story. The kicked up dirt creates a cloud of dust behind her with callused hands gripped firmly on the reins; the audience can almost feel the power of the animal and the energy of the moment through the image, while stoic portraits of heroines gazing into the unknown transport us to an old western. An eclectic range of typography is reminiscent of the diversity within rodeo from the past to the present.
After many many eraser shavings stuck in the spine of my notebook, I landed on a logo design that clearly communicated the brand and its voice. The dueling letter Bs create a sense of competition, while the shape, styling, and composition pay homage to traditional western belt buckles.