Raider Nation – Brand Identity Part 2
Early on I scored several major coups by enlisting the aid of various Raiderettes to the cause of Raider Nation. This drove the competition bonkers as they were driven insane by the very real speed by which Raider Nation was becoming the acknowledged leader for Raider fans on the Internet, and beyond. First they lost the coveted Raider Locker Room outlet by which the image and name of Raider Nation could be advertised daily through a brick and mortar outlet. Then they lost the battle for the very hearts of Raider fans when the Raider Nation moniker started to appear on the backs of cheerleaders – WTF, this is adding insult to injury. It was a brilliant execution of strategy aimed at making the Raider Nation brand well known and adopted as a symbol of Raider fans worldwide.
It became comical watching the competition trying to keep up. They were in a losing battle since the rollout of the Raider Nation brand and the introduction through the retail outlets was all coordinated to happen quickly and simultaneously. They called John Vella complaining that Jim Hudson was the second coming of the antichrist – a familiar theme I seem to encounter whenever it has become apparent that winning on skill and intelligence is an impossibility. I also came to realize that I was not dealing with the most balanced of people when it came to dealing with these types of fans. It was only through living the fantasy of being the big tough Raider fans were they able to rise above the mundane existence they had and actually exert power in their life. I was a stranger in a strange land. The movie “The Fan” about an off balanced NY Giants fan pretty much sums up the competition. Remember this was circa 1996 and everybody thought they could program a website and the market for all types of informational sites was exploding.
But I digress from the topic at hand and I will cover the competition, what little there was, in more detail at a later date. My goal was to insure that there was plenty of exposure for Raider Nation so that no matter where you turned there would be the logo. Look closely at the attached photo and you will see the very first, and original, version of the Raider Nation T-shirt as they are distinguished by the red coloring of the circle and bandana.
True story – the first meeting with John Vella I walked into the Raider Locker Room store in Fremont wearing this t-shirt trying to get an agreement to manage his website and to sell the Raider Nation t-shirt in all his retail outlets. John was being noncomittal, as I am sure he was approached many times by others, when a customer walks up to the counter. John asks, “Can I help you?”. The customer looks at me and looks back at John and says, “I want what that guy is wearing (referring to me), do you have those?”. John tells the guy, “I sure do as we just made an agreement to carry those exclusively in the Raider Locker Room.”. Bazinga, whoop there it is, thank you baby jesus, etc. etc. etc. The timing was unreal and the guy was not planted by me, he truly wanted that shirt over all others. Talk about test marketing with terrific timing – that is how the deal was sealed. I believe John ordered 10 dozen of the shirts on the spot and agreed to my management of his website. Guess what – I just happened to already own RaiderLockerRoom.com, what a coincidence!
I had the internet (Raider Nation)and the brick and mortar outlet (Raider Locker Room), so what was missing – traditional print media!! This is where Silver and Black Illustrated came into play as they were professionally published and had subscribers receiving each issue via US Mail. An arrangement was made with the publisher to allow advertising for Raider Nation in exchange for similar advertising for Silver and Black Illustrated on the Raider Nation website. Bazinga, whoop there it is, thank you baby jesus, etc. etc. etc. No one had the breadth and depth of exposure as Raider Nation from the very beginning. The exposure in all media outlets fueled the success of the Raider Nation website which fueled sales of Raider Nation merchandise. The effect was synergistic and proved the power of effective marketing when utilizing all available means – internet, print and retail.
Lessons Learned: strike fast, strike hard, and penetrate the market by utilizing every available means to establish brand identify. Lock out competition from these same outlets by establishing exclusive agreements that erect barriers to entry. Hells Bells.