Welcome to a Very Special Edition of Mack Web’s monthly Nuggets of Knowledge. This month (September, in case you missed it), we asked everyone to contribute their Nugget in video form.
That’s right, folks, for one month only you get to see Mack Web’s most valued videos.
Oddly enough, despite the differences in how or why the information is presented – a TEDtalk, a music video, a McSweeney’s/Dissolve special – most of the team have chosen to focus on this undeniable truth: in building a community, in building a business, in building a brand, in doing anything that relies on people, the key is authenticity.
And also, the lesser known undeniable truth: typography is awesome.
So, wise, amusing, brief, or musical: enjoy the Mack Web NOKList Video Special.
(And hey, if video’s not your thing, check out our archive of regular programming.)
by Al Yankovic
Client-centric solutions. Brand trajectory. Cross-platform innovation.
These industry phrases (and many others like them) have populated the lingo of our professional lives, supposedly full of promise and intent. But due to overuse, have they lost their meaning and power?
Al Yankovic (a.k.a. “Weird Al” Yankovic, the artist who gave us timeless classics such as “Eat it” and “Another One Rides the Bus”) wages war against this corporate-speak in his recent video “Mission Statement” and challenges us to think about what we’re truly communicating – to the outside world and to each other as industry insiders. Set to the tune of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash (which, according to Yankovic, is the “antithesis of corporate America”), we are not only treated to sharply clever wordplay, but also to visually stunning, sped-up illustration for the entirely of this must-see video.
And for those with a life-long search for ironic expression, you’re in luck: these snarky sketches are done on a whiteboard with dry erase markers. Natch.
This Is a Generic Brand Video
Video by Dissolve, inspired by McSweeney’s, written by Kendra Eash
Leave it to the quick-witted McSweeney’s to perfectly (and hilariously) capture the nature of many brand videos: predictable, vapid, and filled with vague, unsubstantial buzzwords. Kendra Eash published a satirical and on-point piece entitled “This Is a Generic Brand Video,” which pokes fun at those videos we’ve all seen (and probably tuned out). The ones where brands attempt to depict their innovation and originality but succeed only in representing themselves as stereotypical and wholly unoriginal.
Now, here’s where things get fun: Dissolve, a stock footage company, took this piece and turned it into…you guessed it…a generic video. Using the McSweeney’s piece as a voiceover, Dissolve matched those words with their own stock footage. The result is gold.
Not only is this video comical, but it’s also an example of brilliant advertising. And as someone who puts a lot of pressure on herself to be creative and come up with fantastic brand-building ideas, I found it pretty amusing that in this case, something clever and unique originated from something generic. Quite the ironic twist, right?
Whether you’re seeking some creative inspiration or simply a good laugh, this is worth a watch.
The History of Typography
Prepare to be entertained (and educated) as playful and colorful paper cut outs walk you through the history of typography. Created from 291 paper letters, 2,454 photographs and a multitude of man-hours, Ben Barrett-Forrest’s stop motion video is a great example of evergreen content that’s creative, valuable, and possible to produce for those with a limited budget. And yes, there’s even a cut-out of Johannes Gutenberg.
If you’re a designer this video will make you feel nostalgic, likely bringing back memories from your first design class (sniff). For those who are not designers, this video is a great way to familiarize yourself with the world of typography and learn about the origins of typefaces like Roman, Caslon, Baskerville, and sans serif. The bonus? You can impress the graphic designer on your next project when you ask them to include a few slab-serif typefaces in their mock-up.
Like a Girl
By Always, #likeagirl
Even though there are many conveniences that come with living in this digital age, being a company in this era brings many challenges. Making an authentic connection with the people who come in contact with your brand is one of them. People want real. They want real companies who stand for something rather than simply promoting their products. They want to be truly valued by the companies they support. They want companies who inspire them to be part of something meaningful.
Always does an incredible job of all of that in this Like a Girl video. It’s really difficult to scale authenticity, but Always really hits it home. They looked beyond their products to who they were selling them too and then talked about something that mattered to those people.
Their audience is 100% female and they tapped into that, into genuine concerns and social issues that face women. It’s real and it’s memorable and it’s entirely relevant to their brand and their audiences. As a mom who’s raising a girl, this campaign is certainly something that feels very genuine to me, something that I feel strongly about supporting, and that I’d like to be a part of.
How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)
by Margaret Gould Stewart, TED Talks
Though Margaret Gould Stewart speaks for some pretty ginormous brands and talks about design – or, really, more specifically, user experience – on a pretty ginormous scale, the home truths she delivers are applicable even for much smaller brands on much smaller scales.
While there may not be global outcry when we or one of our clients changes the design or process for our sites, we still always need to be informed by data and driven by human empathy and intuition. We may not need to spend 280 hours redesigning a single button, but we need to be aware of how changes impact our audience.
We may not need to consult with conflict resolution experts or the universal principles of polite language (which is, apparently, a thing), but we should always be thinking about how real live people interact with what we’ve given them.
This talk isn’t revolutionary but a solid reminder that even giants like Google, Facebook, and Youtube not only can’t afford to ignore the people that they serve but that they shouldn’t ignore them. That losing sight of the real people behind the screens doesn’t only mean failing in your user experience, but failing in your mission.
Also…some great tips on how to get those really embarrassing karaoke photos taken down. So…bonus.
Building a Community by Letting Go
I went to CMX Summit in June 2014 and was treated to a wonderful keynote presentation on the first day by Tina Roth Eisenberg, who I had never heard of before this conference. Tina is a serial entrepreneur in New York City and many of her businesses are directly related to a natural community growth. She talks through her experiences in building Creative Mornings, a breakfast lecture series for the creative community, into a large organization with hosts spread throughout the world, as well as starting a co-working space in Brooklyn.
The main message of this session was that a community grows best when you let go and stop trying to control it. Let it grow organically from what the community members want and grow it will! Whether you’re looking for validation of your efforts in working on an established community or are just beginning to build your community, this session is well worth a watch.
The Tribes We Lead
by Seth Godin
I often struggle to explain what I do to at work to those around me outside of work. Words like search engine optimization, social media, and branding are great, but we really do so much more than that. And “marketing agency” definitely doesn’t do it justice.
Two months ago I shared Derek Sivers’ TED talk about leadership and how to start a movement. I’m circling back to another TED talk, this time around by Seth Godin, titled The Tribes We Lead.
Godin labels this point in time in which we’re living, thanks to the Internet, as the age of tribes. Obviously tribes existed way before the days of the world wide web, but today, you can connect with anyone for the simple reason that you want to be connected to them (regardless of location). Godin says tribe leaders are those who lead and connect ideas and people. They’re the ones who say that something is important and that we need to organize around it. Then the tribe leaders (and their first followers of course) start sharing this idea and getting people connected to it. Those people in turn share the idea and get even more people connected. Tribes are all about connection.
Which I guess is one way to look at the work we do: connection. It’s more than advertising. It’s more than marketing. We work with companies who are committed to a cause. And we help those leaders build their tribe.
Because what self-respecting movie-lover and TV aficionado doesn’t understand the inherent attraction of a little something extra, adding a little more insight into what the creators were thinking or who they are?
What follows are other videos that made the shortlist but not the finals, for various reasons. (They’re still pretty excellent, though.) You get bonus points for guessing who suggested what.
A brief, accurate, and snickering explanation of the US, its various territories, and how they all function.
YouTube Complaints 2014!
An affectionate mockery of both user and platform behavior. No, seriously. Also, Elsa from Frozen shows up.
The Scared is scared
Storytelling done by a master. A six-year-old genius, clearly.
83 Old Slang Phrases We Should Bring Back
Expand your vocabulary. Or, y’know, sound like your Great Aunt Matilda.
First Moon Party
Just…yeah. Excellent audience awareness and appeal. Simultaneously cringeworthy and hilarious.