This is the kind of shit that constantly infiltrate's my mind. Most of this isn't meant to be taken seriously
(since this isn't a big commercial company) but the ideas are there to get you thinking. A girl can dream, can't she? (no, they don't have the rights) I typed this up during bored periods and didn't expect it would be this long but whatever.
Mascots or some kind of character to represent a business is a good way to have an easy, recognizable image to associate with your company. When you look at the igta logo you notice that the "i" is yellow and different from the rest. Now, it's easy to imagine the dot of the "i" as a head and the rest the body of a person/figure. But there is also the yellow line under it that can add in as feet. Put this together and you have a new character to act as the site's mascot without picking some rediculous animal or other thing.
Imagine, if you will, a street setting looking at a brick wall. Then gunshots. The yellow "i" enters from the left, shooting an AK-47 back off camera. Then his gun runs out of ammo. He appears to look around as the camera zooms out to reveal "gta" painted on the wall. The character seemingly looks back at his enemies and then jumps up onto the wall to the left of the "gta" and completes the site's logo. Then (let's say) badge-shaped characters enter from the left with pistols (cops) and keep going off the right of the screen. Now close up of the "i" with a sigh of relief and the camera zooms out to reveal the whole logo which then dissolves into the blue gradient background currently used. Website pops up at the bottom of the screen, few seconds go bye so people can read it, aaaaand SCENE!
Something like that. The "i" was an easy pick from what is already here. You could go another route and create a new random character (or even have members contribute, like a contest). I wouldn't [actually] make a cartoony kid named "Lil' GTA Johnny" but you get the idea. Cartoon character with an iGTA shirt. Something simple.
some quick sketches put into photoshop:
shit. just noticed I forgot the "feet" on the right one. oh well.
Such as the ^above^. Something that looks good, grabs interest, and lures people to the site. This place could do good with a short commercial about the site that highlights things like the guides and achievements (won't be on TV, but spread it around the internet). The Podcasts are great because they advertise the site and say "hey, we're helpful. come on in!". That plus the mini-contest/sweepstake/thing with the bumper stickers was good for PR. Or would that be MR: Member Relations?. In any case, showing off the place in a nice visual style is great PR and intices people to take a look and hopefully something will catch their eye and they want to join in.
As just previously mentioned, contests are good. Especially utilizing prizes. Who wants to win a contest where all you get is being able to say "I won"? Some people, but that's not enough to attract new people. The member's deathmatch is a good start on the road to regular contests that may end up with small prizes eventually. Another version of contests include something like "which member is the most helpful?". There's already the FML but no one knows about that unless they make a wrong click and end up in the Asylum by accident. Plus there isn't any real prize (right now). GTA videos could be a contest. Hell, whoever makes the best iGTA website advert could be a contest.
We all know companies love to have free pens, keychains, and other crap given away so you'll always think of them when you use the object with their name on it. We (supposedly) have bumper stickers and that's a good start. They're simple and easy. Pens, this place doesn't need. Keychains on the other hand could be nice. Of course there's plenty of companies out there that make simple printed keychains with your text and/or logo. That's good and works for simplicity. Then you can get complicated with custom shapes either metal, plastic, or rubber. One thing I have stuck in my head right now is 3D soft rubber keychains of the "igta" logo. It's an idea I came up with and simply cannot get away from. Only problem is the custom shape requires a custom mold (extra $100 for that) plus with that they expect you to purchase at least a 1000 of them for about 80 cents each (with price going slightly down for bigger orders).
Another option widely used by internet businesses especially is T-shirts. Small "igta" logo on the left breast (viewer's right) and maybe on the back "i grand theft auto" nice and big with the website under it. Keep it simple. Again, there's plenty of companies that'll do it quick and somewhat cheap for you. The problem with all of this is money. Although the crap is cheap, it can be a big investment to make a (usually required) bulk purchase. But things such as sponsors can alleviate that.
The site is English. A lot of places have English as a second language in addition to the ones that speak English. There's other fansites dedicated to other languages. Fine. Although it couldn't hurt to have some of these other fansites with us or even under us. Just recently a new affiliate was added for a Finnish fansite. There are other affiliates of other languages and that's great. Some seem to be as big as us. But what if deals were struck? What if they became an actual part of iGTA? The owners could still control their own fansites but use the iGTA name and logo and be supervised by this place. Essentially this site could multiply in size expanding into different languages yet still have the current site the same with additional traffic and activity. But that all comes down to deals. And most deals cost money on the side that wants their name in lights. Even more so when each of these individual sites sees themselves as being the biggest and greatest.
I know there was one little small shit site that wanted to "merge" with this place. It was laughed off but what if instead we took over their site? Let them control their little thing but under the name and supervision of this place. These are things to look at in the long run.
Obviously any business needs to have good public relations. Not too much else needed here. This site does it in the form of guides, information, and the forums available to guests. This site also has Member Relations as stated with deathmatches and the Podcast contests which can be expanded upon in the future. There is also the Gold option to get some extra features and benefits. Submitting content also provides a great way to let the members interact and gives people a reason to join up. There was the idea for a site webcomic to involve a bunch of members which was a good idea as well. Things like this are what brings the site members together and shows activity when there isn't much else going on.
Also with Member Relations (and a bit of Public) is the staff. Staff keep the place clean (from spam for example) and try to keep the majority of the people happy. Not everyone can get their way but the staff can step in to find a decent solution to problems and keep people from abandoning this place. Sometimes the staff doesn't perform 100%. It happens. But as long as issues can be rectified in due time there isn't much to worry about and the members stay content.
Ending this shit
In short, part of being big is looking and acting like it. Yes this place is in a slum at the moment but now is the time to prepare and try things out. So when the big news starts rolling in and this place gets busy again, things will be worked out enough to get people in and keep them here. There have been PLENTY of ideas floating around the forums over the years. Some were tried, others never saw daylight. Most people's fears are that if they start something, it'll fail. And their work/rep will be worthless. Such is life, at least you tried. And with the slum it's hard to find enough interest from people to even attempt starting something.