When you work in brand communications, it is natural for clients and colleagues to ask, “Where does great work come from?” And, “How can we create it consistently, so it moves the needle for our brand and business?”
To my mind, the not-very-secret secret to making consistently great work is marrying inspiration to craft. Inspiration is what drives us to do the work, and craft guides our hands, showing us the way to do it. In other words, craft is all about the how, while inspiration is about the why.
I typically don’t meditate on things like craft on a daily basis. But I do look for opportunities to be reminded of its importance. Thankfully, we found the chance last Friday night when Donna The Buffalo appeared at the Doug Fir on a rare West Coast swing.
Donna The Buffalo plays a form of Americana dance music, and the two founding band members, Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins, are gifted performers and songwriters. Let’s look at two stanzas from a favorite song, “No Place Like The Right Time,” from the band’s 2000 Positive Friction album:
Sit and watch the tall grass grow
I run and hide from the things I know
Catch the dust up in my eye
All is lookin’ different as the years go by
There’s a dish that I’m not passing
Yours is a love that is everlasting
You give to the world, you give to yourself
When you’re giving your best to somebody else
Bring in the vocals and guitars, and this song makes a lasting impression. Not a lot of bands confidently and capably deal with the ever-present need for love and beauty in our lives. Yet, these needs are fundamental to the human condition. You’d think they would be at the center of not just art, but politics and commerce too.
Speaking of commerce, one of the places where I think we sometimes stumble in the brand communications game is falling for the idea that people want to love, admire and share information about brands. People do have favorite brands, but in large part the favored brands are simply a vehicle to the real things people love. For example, Patagonia is a beloved brand, but it’s not the gear or clothing that its customers love, it’s being active outdoors. Pendleton is another cherished clothing brand, and again, I’ll argue that it’s not just the carefully made clothes, but an enduring connection to the Old West that people love and pay top dollar for.
Brands are vehicles. The question is where are you taking yours?
It’s not a rhetorical question. Reach out and I’ll be happy to discuss the what, the why and the how with you. We can also review some of the better DTB shows available for download on Archive.org.