TACTI-FUN! With a base in Americana history. That was the foundation of this brand, when I was first approached with this project six years ago. Originally it was called F.O.C.T., I’m assuming this was a play on a popular curse word in past tense… Nonetheless, when I was approached by the three founding members with this project, it became clear that my help was truly needed.
F.O.C.T. was an acronym for FITNESS, OUTDOORS, CASUAL, and TACTICAL — that is a lot of genres, cultures, and target audiences to cover; with that initial knowledge, it became immediate and clear that this brand felt scattered, and rightfully so. The original company was founded by three partners – one was a park ranger from Oregon, the other was a marine from Texas, and then there was a state-trooper from New York State. These three partners brought a lot of alpha perspectives, and each pushing their own agenda — one was extremely adamant about the outdoors and fitness; the other pushing tactical / tacticool concepts, and then there was the partner pushing the support for police officers, the thin blue line, and brotherhood. However, they all had two things in common… Patriotism / love for country, and the love for downtime to rest, relax, and celebrate! Celebrate the love for what they do, and relate to their brothers in arms, peers, and audience.
It became evident that with all of the above, the name definitely needed to change – there was no ifs, ands or buts about that. The original name was crass, immature, and had no appeal; if it appealed to an audience, it would be an extremely niche audience. After quite some time of interviews, meetings, and round-table sessions, I came up with the name BORN WYLD. The “Y” portion of the word WILD, came about due to the lack of availability for the name in traditional spelling, but it became concrete and supported when we all recalled a film “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” – in the film the main protagonists had a rock band with the name WYLD STALLYNS. After that common bond, and recollection through nostalgia, we settled on the word WYLD. BORN WYLD became the new name, after it was made clear that all of these original founders live a life, career, and have a calling that is truly original and unique. The personal and career oriented stories, the camaraderie, and the hard “partying” made the BORN WYLD name stick, and ultimately it became concrete.
The logo took on the same approach, it needed to be steeped in their appreciation for military, history, fitness and the outdoors. The name couldn’t be an acronym literally reflecting that, but the logo could embody those values and traits. The concept we developed, was that of a snake. The logo needed to be aggressive, clean, and feel like a piece of collateral that could be brandished and admired — used as a badge, sticker, or collectible item. The logo needed to appeal to the alpha male target audience, yet be simple, clean, and stand out while being steeped in rich American history.
Why the snake? This is a very fascinating story, and here is a case where I once again have the pleasure of being educated, and adding beautiful folklore to my mental portfolio. While living in the south-west, and after being invited to this culture of first responders, military and true outdoor aficionados, I became aware of several flags that people touted proudly — A flag with a cannon, a flag with roman numeral III, and then there was a very bold one with a rattle snake with the words emblazoned upon it “DON’T TREAD ON ME”. This captured my attention, and I was always fascinated by it, and when we arrived to the snake concept with the team, their eyes lit up, and rightfully so… This SNAKE symbol was used during our American Revolution starting in 1775 before our declaration of independence. The flag with the coiled timber rattlesnake, ready to STRIKE, with DTOM (dont tread on me) underneath it, is known as the GADSEN FLAG. The flag is named after American general and politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag. The American folklore stems from the following… The timber rattlesnake can be found in the area of the original Thirteen Colonies. Its use as a symbol of the American colonies can be traced back to the publications of Benjamin Franklin (made famous through the words JOIN OR DIE). In 1751, he made the first reference to the rattlesnake in a satirical commentary published in his Pennsylvania Gazette. It had been the policy of Great Britain to send convicted criminals to the Americas, so Franklin suggested that they thank the British by sending rattlesnakes to Britain.
After this new wonderful information and history was bestowed upon me, it just made the name resonate with I and the team even more, and the factors that stood out to me from this bit of Americana history, is that this is part of the genesis of not only our American history, but of our modern day marines. Yet, beyond all of this great history and folklore, it was the image and position of the rattlesnake that struck me visually… The intent of this snake, and the message when this flag was woven through the air during the revolution, and during battle, was STRIKE! That the snake and the marines were ready to STRIKE; Strike First, Strike Hard, and Show No Mercy… Yep you guessed it, if you are a child of the 80s, or a lover of 80s pop culture, then you know about COBRA KAI of Karate Kid fame, and their famous slogan I just stated.
This amalgamation of history and pop culture, led to the final developed ARROWHEAD badge of a logo, the Snake with the tongue sticking out. The final result was meant to be Alpha, brave, ready to strike, confident, and ready to party hard and take on all challenges.
This brand continues to evolve, from apparel to promotional material, to challenge events, all the way to the production of outdoor tools such as knives, and although the original founders are no longer involved, and the brand has crossed hands more than once with new owners, the logo and the bold name and sentiment still remains true to this day… BORN WYLD!