Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 1
OK, there may be several teasers to the real lesson of building brand identity. What is undeniable is that a product or service can fail or succeed based upon the image that consumers have in their minds.
In 1996 the internet was secondary to the traditional marketing channels that existed at the time – meet and greets with the cheerleaders!! What was becoming clear, however, is that the internet could spread news and photos on current events much faster and across a much more diverse geographical base. Instead of only fans in the San Francisco Bay Area being able to see the latest news in the local rags there was now the ability to spread this info across the globe. No one appreciated the impact of the internet in this area more than I did when it came to formulating a strategy which would propel Raider Nation to the pinnacle of success.
The photos shown here were all published on the Raider Nation website exclusively and I, in effect, became the official photographer for events that were taking place at John Vella’s Raider Locker Room. The Raider Locker Room and Raider Nation became strategic partners in spreading the Raider Nation brand. Traditional brick and mortar retail was still the predominant method of sales in 1996 but to sell to a global fan base the internet was becoming the preferred marketing and sales channel. The symbiotic relationship between most retail outlets and the internet is taken for granted now, in 1996 Raider Nation was on the cutting edge.
There is no sense in denying the most obvious – sex sells. Politically correct or not that was another main tenet of the Raider Nation strategy – achieve brand identity utilizing the best models available for the product. Of course, that would be Oakland Raider Cheerleaders and every opportunity that presented itself was capitalized upon.
Raider Nation established it’s unique place on the internet by virtue of the first level domain name – RaiderNation.com. Name brand identity fueled the internet growth since where else would you logically go if you were looking for Raider Nation news or products? Duh, the answer is obvious and in 1996 first level domain names were the premium piece of real estate on the internet. Remember 1996 there was still the idea that “.com” names were strictly limited and could only be expanded up to a point. Of course, in later years this all changed with the plethora of new extensions that allowed for what seems like unlimited expansion of domain name addresses. I became a cybersquatter registering any, and every, domain that related to the Oakland Raiders and, more specifically, that would help drive traffic to the Raider Nation website. SkullPatrol.com, HouseOfThrills.com, SilverAndBlack.net, to name a few were owned by me. It was foresight to see where things were heading that eventually led to total domination by Raider Nation on the internet.
Does it get any better than starting something from scratch, implementing a strategy for growth, and seeing it become overwhelmingly popular? The feeling is what any person feels when they start a business and watch it grow and succeed, Raider Nation was no different.
Lessons Learned: establish a unique foothold in your market and exploit the trends in your particular field which will give you competitive advantage. Erect barriers to entry so competition cannot erode the lead you develop by being a first adopter. Grow and change when the need arises – you must operate at the speed of the internet or face extinction. Finally, surround yourself with cheerleaders since they make the journey much more enjoyable.