I went down deep into the YouTube rabbit hole.
I didn’t think that I would ever get out. For me, it all starts with some random band that pops into my noggin’ and the simple question: “what ever happened to…” From there, the “recommended” finds on the righthand side of the screen becomes the burrowing tool for hours of enjoyment, discovery and inspiration. As the years wane on, I’m not finding as much inspiration from within the marketing industry, as I am finding it from other creative spaces (music, architecture, literature, art, etc…). It’s not just the simple act of consuming other creative inspirations that helps me to forge new ideas, it’s the backstory. It’s the documentaries and the behind-the-scenes, about where these very unique people get their ideas and cultivate their work.
Still, even this is becoming a little trite.
Now, because everyone can create content… everyone is. With that, brands are being told that they need to tell better stories. The output of this is sometimes astounding, but often disappointing. These are “first generation” storytellers. These are not the same masters of story that we all love and hold so dearly. Many brands still veil their long form – or storytelling-based – content in a shill. No matter what they do, it’s advertising. The viewers know it. The brands have to get over it. So, the push to sell overshadows the story… and, the story is lost. This, sadly, makes the content feel inauthentic.
While down deep in the rabbit hole…
I was watching videos about guitars players (and how they make music). I was particularly taken by a seen from the documentary, It Might Get Loud. From there, I stumbled upon some John Mayer videos… and then this:
The story of time.
Watches tell time. That’s what they meant to me. I became fascinated with this content. The host’s knowledge and love of the watch. His friendship and interplay with Mayer. Mayer’s knowledge of watches… and what they should mean (I had no idea that he was this deep into watch collecting, or that watch collecting was such a big deal)… The language that they use to discuss the time pieces of art. It struck me that this content – which features a mass media celebrity – is so niche. It’s so specific. And, from what I could tell, very pleasing and perfect for this audience. From the quality of the production to the content, it’s not meant for everybody. It’s meant for watch collectors. Not only was it enjoyable to me. I wanted to learn more about Hodinkee… I’d refer them business, and all I knew about them was this one video. Through real story and quality content, they earned my trust. No shill. I’m all in on them, if someone asks me anything about watches. All of that from one video.
I know nothing about The Balvenie, but after watching Anthony Bourdain in this twelve-minute documentary better understand how a master bladesmith makes the perfect kitchen knife (and, who knew that this was even a thing?), it’s hard not to know that The Balvenie brand stands for something that is fine, superior and crafted at a highly personal level.
What content is not.
This doesn’t mean that every brand can tell such great stories. It doesn’t mean that every brand should tell these kinds of stories. It does mean that when you have a brand that stands for something, the tools are abound for you to bring them to light, in a truly powerful way that resonates. Sadly, a lot of brands are watering it down. Taking out the soul of the brand. Turning this kind of opportunity into a long-form advertisement. These brands think that they’re serving the business, when – in reality – they’re probably losing credibility and, in turn, hurting the soul of the brand.
If your brand has a soul… your content needs to be able to let it come out and shine.