A lot has been said in recent years by hunting advocates and bloggers about the unjustifiably harsh criticisms of hunting and hunters by mainstream society. Criticisms that, as hunters we all know are mostly unfounded. Claims about the cruelty of hunting, its lack of necessity, the dangers of hunting, etc. All claims that easily fall apart under just a little bit scrutiny. So why all the confusion?
Since I started writing this blog, I’ve treated it as an extra-curricular activity that doesn’t relate to my professional career. But there is an obvious connection between hunting’s public image problem and what I do for a living that can’t be avoided any longer. A connection that is prompting me to take on a new approach to writing posts for this blog.
Its a more subtle issue (but equally as important to address) that isn’t among the classic hot button issues mentioned above. Although, it helps to give rise to the perceptions that cause them. I’m referring to something largely overlooked by both hunters and the general public. I’m talking about hunting’s brand.
So what is a brand?
In the world of marketing, a brand can be defined as the perceived sum value of a specific organization’s; customer service, quality, performance, and usefulness – in the minds of their end-users. This is directly connected to the business owners’ (or board of directors’) ideas on work-ethic, personal investment in the company, taste, and values. All of which define the culture from which the product or service is born.
Graphic designers like myself help to communicate the emotional side of the organizations’ “packaging”. The promises of satisfaction made in the imagery, writing styles, typographic treatments, and how that connects with the audiences’ deepest desires. That’s what we call the brand promise.
So how do you take the idea of brands and brand promises for individual commercial goods and servies and define a so-called brand for hunting (a past-time, a sport, a hobby)? Well, hunting is undeniably also an industry. One that makes a lot of money every year.
An industries brand is defined by the average brand perception communicated by all of the products and services that are seen as a part of that industry. The sum perception of every broadhead, scent-killer, and long-rifle package. The promotions for hunter safety courses, outfitting suppliers, hunting shows, and everything else under the sun that you can associate with hunting culture.
There is no doubt, when considering this, that the brand promise of hunting in general still belongs to right-leaning, gun-loving, southern accented, christian, America. Though that may accurately paint a picture of a large portion of the hunting audience, I believe it falls far short of painting the correct picture — the full picture.
In other words, the current brand promise, doesn’t match up with reality.
There is no doubt that the face of hunting is rapidly changing. Almost every state and province in North America is reporting an end—and near reversal—to the decline in hunter license registrations. Despite the fact that this resurgence of interest in hunting is being largely attributed to the heavily left-leaning, environmentally conscious, sustainable food movement, and women – extremely polarized opinions of hunting persist in 40% (or more) of mainstream society (depending on where you ask the question).
I’m not nieve to think that we can change the minds of hardened PETA activists, nor am I interested in doing so. But I think that we can begin to soften the hearts of those who lack exposure to hunting and hunters. The ones who form their opinions based on the most visible aspects of the hunting industry – the marketing and advertising of hunting products and services.
This is where the new direction of Hunter & Quarry will be going. I’ll continue to post recipes and experience articles of course. But I’m going to try to bring up some specific examples over the next few posts that help to illustrate what I’ve written above.
Along with this new direction, there will be a new look to the site. I’m planning to completely redesign it, and change its focus to cater to like-minded hunters. The growing population of hipster, lefties, and food conscious gourméts that I call brother and sister in the hunting world.
I hope you all enjoy wherever this ends up. Wish me luck!