Talk about a perfect example of excellence in branding … I give you the Browning Buckmark. No, actually, Browning gave that to us about 32 years ago in 1978. Designed by Browning art director Don Bailey, the Buckmark debuted as part of the Browning Centennial celebration. Since then, it has appeared on plenty of Browning’s products, but also on flesh of its customers – as a popular tattoo.
Back to the history behind the Buckmark. The story goes that Browning wanted to diversify and protect itself from a waning gun industry back in the 1970s. Looking to expand its clothing line, salesmen in the company pointed to the success of Izod and its branding of the alligator. In 1977, the company execs gave the go-ahead to Browning’s marketing department to find a logo. Bailey chose an abstract mule deer and according to the history of the Buckmark in the Browning library, Bailey said it represented “a huge mossback buck walking away from the hunter and then, as they often do, taking one last look over his shoulder.”
At first, some in the company did not warm to the logo. Others liked it, and defended it for its appeal not only to hunters, but also to fishers and campers, as these outdoorsmen also enjoy seeing wildlife like bucks. Also, the mule deer symbolizes the West and Browning has its origins in the West.
After it was accepted, another employee at Browning told Bailey that he appreciated seeing the image of a doe within a Buckmark. I’m still looking for that. Is it like those dot pictures and only some people can see it? Or is it just the buck without antlers?
Whatever it is – a buck or a buck and doe – it works, as millions of people show others their Buckmarks everyday. Note: The buck should be facing to the left as you look at it. Many tattoo artists miss this fact, and as a consequence you’ll see tattoos with Buckmarks facing to the right.
You may enter a “Show Us Your Buckmark Contest” here. But for Heaven’s sake, point your Buckmark in the right direction, if possible!