Topics: advertising

These brands are throwing shade at your content game.

Netflix, Apple, Hulu, HBO, Amazon, Showtime, Facebook, Disney…there’s never been a better time to create content. Subscription wars are heating up amongst the corporate giants but if you look a bit deeper you’ll find a small army of creative brands investing in content. Shopify, MailChimp, WeTransfer are all delivering gorgeously shot, thoughtful stories. And their goal? To connect with us. That’s right, personalized, relatable storytelling is flying off the shelves and when done right, it’s an influential marketing tool that’s moving us beyond double-taps into full-on purchase mode. I, for one, am totally on-board with this trend and have no doubt more tweets like this will be showing up. In fact, I’m hoping brands will continue to up the creativity and experiment with new formats – perhaps an Everlane or allbirds cartoon teaching kids about sustainability? Or maybe Etsy pop-up crafting shops in airports or The Sill coloring books given out at community gardens? Shift those marketing dollars because eliciting an emotional response through creative storytelling is something I’m willing to pay for. 

Brands We Love (Issue 01)

A writer, designer, digital marketer, and creative director walked into a bar, scrapped the punchline, and discussed what brands they admire right now. Take some notes. Here’s who you should be paying attention to and why.

Dave

The Sill – Sure, their products are gorgeous, but they’re running a clinic on brand development and engagement. From their Instagram stories and beautiful website, to their mastery of intelligent and relatable tone of voice, I seriously have fallen in love with The Sill through their branding superpowers.

NotPot – I mean, this is cleverness at new heights. They know their market and play right into it. Game set match.

Away – While their branding doesn’t stand out much from the pack of direct-to-consumer brands, the thing I admire most is their commitment to storytelling. They invest in great mediums such as podcasts, print magazines, and programming in their stores and even experimented with a pop-up hotel.

Burrow – I’m not in the market to buy a couch but when I am, Burrow is where I’m going. Red Antler is the genius behind their new leisure and comfort ads, and my, they should win all the awards. Every other furniture brand needs to take notes. This is a brand who knows their audience and isn’t afraid to experiment with creativity.

Catrina

Boy Smells – I’ve mentioned this brand once and I’ll mention it again because I love their candles. Their products meet all of the criteria I have for candles: beautiful, simple packaging, affordable (but still high-quality), and damn good smells. Buying these took my home to “your house smells nice” levels and for that I am eternally pleased!

Buffy – In late 2017, I added a garlic press to my wish list, and at that moment I acknowledged one of many shifts in my late 20s: my “wish list” has morphed into a “necessities wish list”. Gone are the days when I added frivolous items to my online shopping carts until the urge to buy them passed. Now I just want quality houseware items I need and use every day — including a bed comforter. I bought one from Buffy because their marketing and branding convinced me to, and I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m buried underneath the comforter as I write this (it’s hard to escape).

R+Co Haircare – I love this brand for the same reasons I love Boy Smells, and more. It’s the packaging, the product names, the smells, the quality, the commitment to mindfulness about ingredients, their online shopping experience, and the delight of cutting open their packaging to scoop out every last bit, so no product goes to waste.

Monique

Orange & Park – Our buds at Orange & Park have been bangin’ out the classics for years, but their quality product line gets fresher each season. Minimalist maps yes, but they also make the most perfect prints for classic carcamera, and comber enthusiasts too.

Big Bud Press – From bold basics to badass attitudes, I love everything about Big Bud Press! After backing their Kickstarter last year, I became more familiar with the duo that pours everything into this brand, and my admiration grew stronger. Things didn’t go super smoothly with the Kickstarter production, and instead of hiding or pretending everything was OK, they shared transparent updates and owned up to it (“I know waiting sucks, you have no idea how much I know that waiting sucks! We stop in on the factories and shops working on these pieces multiple times a day, 6 days a week.”), reminding us all about the humans behind the brand.

Small Batch – Two wonderful San Diego babes are bringing more lovely goods to La Mesa, and everyone (including me) is about it! The shop opened late last year and favors products from local makers and shakers, like letterpress stationery, pretty plants, and delicious candles. Try visiting and NOT leaving with at least 5 fun things, I dare ya.

Kiran

Imperfect Produce – It’s not the most polished brand nor does everything always go smoothly, but Imperfect Produce is winning me over with its mission, customer support, and by feeding me delicious organic fruits, veggies, and snacks that make me feel alive. Giving me a compliment when I log into my account is just the rutabaga on top.

Soapbox – My first experience with a Soapbox product was taking an open-air shower in the middle of a redwood forest, so kudos to them for getting involved in experiential marketing. The product packaging feels premium and I love that this college kitchen project gives back each time I make a purchase. On the back of each product is a “hope code” you can enter on the website to find out who you helped.

Sub Pop Records – I’ve always liked their band roster and there’s a certain humility I admire when they say “We’re not the best, but we’re pretty good.” But what really enchanted me was the experience they created in at Sea-Tac Airport. I loved everything, from the merch, to the history, and the Polaroids of bands that stopped by to say what’s up.

The California Sunday Magazine – A few years ago when Pop-Up Magazine branched out to create a digital and print mag, I was stoked. They’ve done nothing to hamper my enthusiasm since. Hell, I’m not even sure the NY Times would be my goal anymore. The fresh stories and film-like photography make getting published in California Sunday part of my life list.

You made it to the end! Think we should make this a quarterly thing? Got a brand you love to share with us? We’re listening.

Purple is more than just Prince

With Casper, Tuft and Needle, HIBR, Keetsa, Leesa, and probably a dozen other companies out there, competition in the sleep biz is hotter than ever. I’m probably late to this, but I just love that Purple went a different route and hired Tim and Eric for some killer content marketing. The Purple Boys series is hilarious.

To watch the full series, click here.

Have yourself a 3D holiday.

Less than 2 years ago, Taj and I joined Microsoft to design products and experiences that introduce the world to 3D. Today, they’ve made our first product its global holiday campaign and we couldn’t be more excited to share the message: when we are inclusive and celebrate our differences we can make the world a better place.

I wish Mike was my Frampa

Nice job by FRAM and creative agency Laughlin Constable to build on their name and get Jonathan Banks (of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul) for this Frampa ad campaign. I love how he uses the no-nonsense grandfatherly temperament of Mike Ehrmantraut to stick it to the younger generation, even if I fall into that category myself.

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