Sunday, February 19, 2012

Branding in BJJ: Predator-Black Eagle

Thanks to some help from Liam over at The Part Time Grappler, I’m doing my first branding profile on a gi maker.

I’m kicking it off with one from the UK, that’s done a great job of using the internet to create awareness abroad. The Predator line of Brazilian jiu jitsu gis is actually a sub-brand under the martial arts supply company, Black Eagle. Definitely an interesting brand architecture, since sub-branding can be used to either maintain a brand or create distance from the parent brand, and most companies in niche markets tend to carry their brands very clearly through all their products. Predator though, still, is directly connected to the Black Eagle image, actual eagles being predators themselves. The name itself was actually born out of a video advertisement the company released back in 2010, “Unleash the Predator”.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but the umbrella logo of Black Eagle (a soaring eagle on a red circle) very much invokes the “rising sun” of the Japanese flag. When creating their line of gis, this concept appears deconstructed, with the eagle standing alone, and the Japanese component showing up in lettering on the gis themselves.

What sets the Predator line apart though, is the subtle messages it sends.  It projects an open and involved image, sharing sketches of gi concepts, photos of prototypes, and fostering discussion with its fans and potential buyers. It's doing an excellent job on its Facebook page of incorporating a solid mix of company news and posts that readers will find of practical use (gotta have both). It also creates wide-reaching product awareness through connections in the very active BJJ blog community, enabling it to continually take its image from a UK-based gi maker, to that of an international one.

Their most intriguing message though, is the seamless consideration of women in their advertising. The ad above for their Predadora line has been named as a favorite for multiple bloggers and is honestly just a great example of a solid ad that gets attention without distracting from the brand itself. The ad is still has a softness and a femininity (something I think can successfully be maintained when marketing to women, even in contact sports) but is very much about jiu jitsu and the product in question. 

On a side note, the previews of their new "Tamashii" gi are just gorgeous. I’m really looking forward to where they take their products and branding in the future.


Liam H Wandi said...

Excellent review. They really do put a lot of heart and soul into their work (branding included) and it's nice to see it being reviewed. Thanks.

Brendan said...

Very interesting. I love Black Eagle and their black predator gi is one of my favorites. I do not favor this newest gi nearly as much as the predator. There are lots of changes I would consider making. But what the heck do I know. =o)