Diehard Custom (formerly Diehard Scarves) believes that the best way sports teams, athletes, and überfans can put their passion on display is with ultra-unique, one-of-a-kind threads. They help diehards from little league to major league show their spirit, support, and camaraderie through custom apparel and accessories.
But the fledgling company had a small brand footprint, a niche, soccer-loving customer base, a digital foundation that couldn’t keep up with their outsized ambition, and new strategic partnership as an official licensed product provider for Copa América, the oldest international soccer competition in the world.
They needed a partner that could scale with their aggressive, multi-year growth plans, help launch the brand onto a larger stage, and develop a new, lead-generating digital strategy that would get them to goal.
With sports apparel sales reaching $80.1 billion in the US in 2018, we knew that breaking through the noisy space to reach our target audience of soccer fans, coaches, athletes, and professional sports teams and leagues would be crucial.
Resonating in a global market with steep competition meant that we needed to carefully segment and target media initiatives, break into new customer pools through top-tier strategic partnerships, and differentiate Diehard by leading with their one-of-a-kind products and singular quality. Elevating their products also meant that we’d need to spearhead a creative shift away from stock photography and generic calls to action that didn’t present their knitwear or brand in the most compelling light.
To help grow Diehard Scarves’ business, support expanding product lines, and foster relationships with larger strategic partners and licensees, their existing marketing strategy was shown the red card.
We started from scratch with three clear goals: increase sales revenue, grow brand awareness and stature, and cultivate an active social community by tapping into fan’s passion and enthusiasm.
First, we audited and optimized diehardscarves.com, and ensured that tracking, conversions, and analytics were set up correctly to deliver clean, actionable data. Then, we implemented SEO best practices across the entire site: technical, on-page, and off-page considerations. With the site at its best, we turned our attention to creating a nimble content strategy to guide social media, blog, email, and video content, and a performance-based advertising and media plan to generate leads and traffic with the highest returns on ad investment.
When Diehard Scarves became an official licensed soccer scarves provider for Copa América shortly after our partnership began, Dragon360 developed a full-court-press of a campaign across all digital channels.
We focused on building excitement around the matches and Diehard-crafted official team scarves, engaging fans with giveaways via influencers and soccer bloggers; kicking off a steady stream of highly sharable posts and graphics across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; creating timely blog content and doing press outreach; producing product shoots and teaser videos; and creating tailored guides for each of the 10 US cities hosting a Copa América game. The city guides helped fans find local bars to watch games, check out soccer stores to get decked out in merch for their favorite team, celebrate local teams and players, and more.
We built targeted landing pages and promoted the city guides and scarves with display and paid social ads to drive top-of-funnel awareness and ran extensive Search and Shopping campaigns to capture bottom-of-funnel customers. By the end of the competition, we’d helped Diehard become a major source of premium scarves in the soccer community, generating significant sales against steep competition from legacy makers and behemoths like Amazon.
The success of our Copa América campaign and targeted search ads got Diehard Scarves on Major League Soccer’s radar, resulting in them becoming their exclusive scarf provider just in time for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Inside of a year, Diehard Scarves had seized two major partnerships with some of the top organizations in the soccer world with Dragon360’s support. But after a while, the influx of customers made them realize that there was significant opportunity with other sports, fan groups, and types of organizations outside of just soccer. They expanded their product line to include socks, headwear, and other apparel, and we shifted strategy to help the brand still appeal to soccer fans while reaching into other opportunity markets and customer segments like educational institutions with sports teams, booster/PTA fundraising, nonprofits, and more.
Now that they’d grown beyond offering soccer scarves, Diehard Scarves rebranded to Diehard Custom. Dragon360 seized this opportunity to build a new digital foundation grounded in a refreshed website and supported with high-performing media across search, display, and social.
The new diehardscarves.com featured a product-driven design with a modern and easy-to-navigate user experience. The visual design brings a feeling of energy and boldness with a high-contrast, simplified look and feel that celebrates their customer community of sports fans and athletes. Large imagery brings the all-new photos of their socks, beanies, scarves, and other products to the forefront to make them more enticing and tangible.
It also was important to show that placing a custom order with Diehard is a fast and simple process, and to organize the site’s information in a more easily accessible way. We added separate pages for each customizable item to allow the expanded product lines to be showcased, and to future-proof further scaling as the company and its offerings grows.
We also added chat functionality to make site updates and maintenance more streamlined, and, most importantly, paves the way for a self-serve e-commerce experience.
To support the expanding product lines and drive traffic to the new site, we overhauled their media plan and made stronger creative and copy to drive more and higher-quality leads via search, display, and paid social. We launched highly segmented campaigns that aligned specific products to particular customers based on their purchasing habits, intent, seasonality, and more.
We collaborated closely with the Diehard team to identify and target who their best, high-value customers are, and what products were the best fit for them. For example, parents or boosters would most likely be looking at scarves as a fundraising opportunity for their team, but colleges would be looking for unique items (like beanies or socks) to put in their bookstore or for their teams to sport off the field.
One of the key successes was the “flow” we introduced to their paid social ads. By embracing multi-photo canvas ads, we could showcase several products in a specific order or context based on who we were targeting. We tested lifestyle vs. product shots, square vs. landscape banners, and more to hone in on the most effective combinations. By experimenting and optimizing against these kinds of details, we were able to steadily increase leads and conversion rates while bringing more simplicity and vibrancy to Diehard ads.
Within the first year of working together, Dragon360 grew Diehard Custom’s revenue by 90%. Since then, we’ve been able to increase brand awareness and consistently drive growth 35-50% year after year, becoming a true partner and critical component for their expansion and evolution as a company. More than three years later, we’ve scaled alongside Diehard Custom, providing full-service digital for them that drives a significant portion of their business.
And, we’re excited to continue helping them build momentum into the future, as they grow yet again to embrace broader markets outside of sports and further expand their custom product offerings.