Historically, the tactical industry hasn’t been characterized by its iconic or original branding. Many 2A companies fall into the habit of adopting the same designs and symbols that consumers have come to expect from a business that touts masculinity and self defense. Commonplace are seemingly infinite renditions of tattered American flags, bald eagles, bullet holes, and shell casings.
Warrior Poet Society President Evan Temple has been working to change that.
Jumping a raised bar
At the WPS HQ outside Atlanta, GA, Temple is re-envisioning not only what it means to be a competitor in the tactical industry, but a trailblazer.
“The American people are coming to expect a high level of cohesive design that they aren’t even aware of,” says Temple, punctuated by the pipe smoke rolling off his beard. “Disney, Apple, Nike – everything has been carefully crafted and user-tested, and we found that we could adopt a similar creative process in order to use our voice on a national stage. We have to compete at the highest level of professional design, video production, lighting, and music. Then we have to keep pushing further from there."
Temple has a notable repertoire of previous graphic design work under his belt, marked by illustrious contributions to both the corporate and private enterprise spheres. His distinguished background in art and design served as the perfect yin to the yang of John Lovell, former 2nd Battalion Army Ranger and firearms instructor. The pair brought forth a nuanced confluence of art and war that would help set Warrior Poet Society apart from its competitors.
Noting the potential of this complementary relationship, the duo knew it was a strong foundation on which to build the values-based community of WPS.
The Society was always intended to be much bigger than any two men, and today, with over 1 million YouTube subscribers, it’s become just that.
Joining two rivers
In the early stages, Temple sought to identify what was missing in the “gun world.”
“Where, specifically, does the firearm industry lack modern design and beauty?”
There are Gucci Glocks and artfully crafted custom slides, but rarely would you find these products offered through a clean, polished web and user experience.
“When considering presentation, how do we merge John’s warrior profile with a more poetic, philosophical dimension? How will this impact design from a digital and physical perspective?"
Temple went on to explain how the Warrior Poet metaphor includes a true element of love and appreciation for higher art forms that exist in our world, and these concepts could be brought to the forefront of the tactical market through the proper lens.
This developmental brainstorming process allowed Warrior Poet Society to occupy a space that was beyond what most other tactical companies could encompass. Sharp design and intentional branding would be vessels that drove this initiative.
“Blood, biceps, rips, and tears were replaced with shared values that people could sympathize with and support,” Temple says, now trading his pipe for a Camacho cigar. “The importance and the function of the family, the 2nd amendment, safety, approachability, levity. We aim to keep bridging the gap between regular America and ex-military fighter minds. Art is one way we can do that.”
Weaponized but welcoming
It wasn’t enough to just look good. The message needed to be relatable rather than intimidating.
“The typical tactical corner of the internet can be a harsh landscape for a family to navigate through. Fighters, soldiers, and military guys can more easily move through these areas as they exist traditionally, but we want to reach a wider audience in a newer age,” Temple explains. “We went with a simpler, more concise look that was absent in our industry but apparent in others. We wanted to simplify the complexity and make it as inviting as possible to as many demographics as possible.”
While Temple worked to reposition the way people saw the otherwise cookie-cut 2A brand, he knew that others were following suit.
“We got lucky because our industry was behind the times. We helped to move that needle, but we aren’t the only ones. Companies are offering more consumer-centric products with more ergonomic designs. If we don’t constantly improve upon ourselves, then we’ll be the next to spin-off into irrelevance.”
When asked about what the future holds for Warrior Poet Society, Temple spoke further on the vision of reaching Americans who are otherwise tuned-out to what they might label “another gun company."
"Our bottom line isn't on a balance sheet, it's effectively and positively impacting culture," Temple says.
“We want to move beyond ‘tacticool,’ we want to continue to make functional apparel that people wear even when they aren’t carrying. We want to expand our library of WPSN (Warrior Poet Society Network) shows from 7 to 50. New directors. New producers. Adapting to technological growth and using the right tools and channels to demystify what we are doing to make it friendly again.”
Temple went on to speak of a time when our nation’s protectors (and firearms in general) were a more approachable subject. "There was a mutual respect among civilians, soldiers, and law enforcement," says Temple.
“We want to foster an environment, and one day a world, where people can coexist in this manner once again. It’s not all about sales and relevancy – our greater goal is to reach beyond the gun community while bringing together those who are outside looking in. We want to showcase a healthy, wholesome vision and value set in order to become a ‘normal’ part of American subculture once again. When the rest of the world looks at us, we want them to think, ‘Hey, these guys aren’t evil. They are dangerous, yes, but they are protectors. And they are on our side.'”