The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

MKBHD <> Ridge

One of the videos I made this week was about Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) announcing a huge partnership with Ridge.

If you don’t know Marques, he’s a king in the tech YouTube space. One of the OG YouTubers and a massive influence culturally.

For a sense, his Apple Vision Pro unboxing/review videos generated 45M views in a 2 week span.

But Ridge, originally a wallet company, is significantly less well known relative to Marques.

They have quietly built a 9-figure business selling everyday carry items like wallets, key holders, backpacks, belts, etc.

So when I saw this announcement from Marques, about becoming Ridge’s Chief Creative Partner, equity investor and Board Member, I was confused.

In my head I thought, “Why in the world would Marques go “all-in” with a less-well known brand like Ridge?”

Upon reflection, I think this was a brilliant deal and is a blueprint for future creator <> brand partnerships.

Most creators I know have the same ambitions:

  1. Grow a huge audience

  2. Build massive owned product brands in categories that solve problems for that audience

This is my goal as well.

On the surface, we have seen several creator-owned/led brands that fit this model.

A few of the common ones people reference include:

  • Logan Paul/KSI (Prime)

  • Mr. Beast (Feastables)

  • Emma Chamberlain (Chamberlain Coffee)

  • Nelk Boys (Happy Dad)

And there are a bunch more that are worth $100M+

So of course, whenever something looks easy on the outside, everyone rushes to try and replicate it in their own way.

The truth is, starting and scaling an owned product brand like this is extremely difficult.

There’s really only two ways to do it. Either hire the full operating team from scratch (usually poaching from legacy players) or partner with an existing operator-as-a-service that has expertise in this category.

Either way, the creator relies heavily on the operating team being able to execute the product vision.

Knowing MKBHD, his commitment to product quality and design is second to none.

I can’t say this for sure, but I’d bet everything that he went down this path for years to build product/engineering teams in house and develop his own products brand.

Being in the tech space, I’d imagine the products he was looking to build were everything from tech gear, everyday carry, office essentials, etc.

But, like most of these failed ventures that nobody hears about, he probably struggled to maintain his 10/10 quality expectations while also handling the workload of interviewing/hiring an operating team.

It became a huge distraction, pulling him away from what he’s best at…making videos.

Enter Ridge.

Although the Ridge brand is not a household name or a market leader in the accessories category, they have spent the last decade building up manufacturing capacity and supply chain expertise to make stuff.

So the partnership essentially gives Marques a rocketship ready to fly.

Because Ridge isn’t an entrenched brand leader, Marques can come in and put his fingerprints all over the brand.

Aside from changing the name, they are probably giving him completely creative control to come up with anything he wants.

And for Marques, it’s like getting to play in the product R&D sandbox without the risk, because the supply chain, industrial design team, and manufacturing processes are all ready to go.

So how could this fail?

  • The Ridge brand becomes an inhibitor for Marques and he feels like it holds him back from truly building an iconic brand of his own. If this happens, they could either white label their manufacturing for him or he’ll breakaway with the learnings and start again

  • The Ridge team isn’t as good at making products as it appears they are

  • MKBHD isn’t able to drive enough demand to make the deal worth it (this won’t happen)

To me, this feels like a win-win and just comes down to brand positioning and messaging.

Over the next 10 years, I believe every consumer brand will realize the need to form a similar joint venture style relationship with relevant creators.

Building a social brand (with a familiar face) in house will likely not work, because any personality that gains traction will eventually feel underpaid and leave to start on their own.

Instead, companies should pursue the JV style deal, where the creator ports their audience over and co-creates for a long time across many collections.

This differs from a single brand collab. To truly see long-term brand lift and creative direction, brands need to align with creators for the long-term.

We’re seeing this with partnerships like Teddy Santis x New Balance and Ronnie Fieg x Knicks.

These guys aren’t creators per say, but they infuse their own brand/cult following and a taste for what the consumer wants into a legacy brand that needed a jolt of creative inspiration.

Will be interesting to see how this one evolves.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

MKBHD <> Ridge

One of the videos I made this week was about Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) announcing a huge partnership with Ridge.

If you don’t know Marques, he’s a king in the tech YouTube space. One of the OG YouTubers and a massive influence culturally.

For a sense, his Apple Vision Pro unboxing/review videos generated 45M views in a 2 week span.

But Ridge, originally a wallet company, is significantly less well known relative to Marques.

They have quietly built a 9-figure business selling everyday carry items like wallets, key holders, backpacks, belts, etc.

So when I saw this announcement from Marques, about becoming Ridge’s Chief Creative Partner, equity investor and Board Member, I was confused.

In my head I thought, “Why in the world would Marques go “all-in” with a less-well known brand like Ridge?”

Upon reflection, I think this was a brilliant deal and is a blueprint for future creator <> brand partnerships.

Most creators I know have the same ambitions:

  1. Grow a huge audience

  2. Build massive owned product brands in categories that solve problems for that audience

This is my goal as well.

On the surface, we have seen several creator-owned/led brands that fit this model.

A few of the common ones people reference include:

  • Logan Paul/KSI (Prime)

  • Mr. Beast (Feastables)

  • Emma Chamberlain (Chamberlain Coffee)

  • Nelk Boys (Happy Dad)

And there are a bunch more that are worth $100M+

So of course, whenever something looks easy on the outside, everyone rushes to try and replicate it in their own way.

The truth is, starting and scaling an owned product brand like this is extremely difficult.

There’s really only two ways to do it. Either hire the full operating team from scratch (usually poaching from legacy players) or partner with an existing operator-as-a-service that has expertise in this category.

Either way, the creator relies heavily on the operating team being able to execute the product vision.

Knowing MKBHD, his commitment to product quality and design is second to none.

I can’t say this for sure, but I’d bet everything that he went down this path for years to build product/engineering teams in house and develop his own products brand.

Being in the tech space, I’d imagine the products he was looking to build were everything from tech gear, everyday carry, office essentials, etc.

But, like most of these failed ventures that nobody hears about, he probably struggled to maintain his 10/10 quality expectations while also handling the workload of interviewing/hiring an operating team.

It became a huge distraction, pulling him away from what he’s best at…making videos.

Enter Ridge.

Although the Ridge brand is not a household name or a market leader in the accessories category, they have spent the last decade building up manufacturing capacity and supply chain expertise to make stuff.

So the partnership essentially gives Marques a rocketship ready to fly.

Because Ridge isn’t an entrenched brand leader, Marques can come in and put his fingerprints all over the brand.

Aside from changing the name, they are probably giving him completely creative control to come up with anything he wants.

And for Marques, it’s like getting to play in the product R&D sandbox without the risk, because the supply chain, industrial design team, and manufacturing processes are all ready to go.

So how could this fail?

  • The Ridge brand becomes an inhibitor for Marques and he feels like it holds him back from truly building an iconic brand of his own. If this happens, they could either white label their manufacturing for him or he’ll breakaway with the learnings and start again

  • The Ridge team isn’t as good at making products as it appears they are

  • MKBHD isn’t able to drive enough demand to make the deal worth it (this won’t happen)

To me, this feels like a win-win and just comes down to brand positioning and messaging.

Over the next 10 years, I believe every consumer brand will realize the need to form a similar joint venture style relationship with relevant creators.

Building a social brand (with a familiar face) in house will likely not work, because any personality that gains traction will eventually feel underpaid and leave to start on their own.

Instead, companies should pursue the JV style deal, where the creator ports their audience over and co-creates for a long time across many collections.

This differs from a single brand collab. To truly see long-term brand lift and creative direction, brands need to align with creators for the long-term.

We’re seeing this with partnerships like Teddy Santis x New Balance and Ronnie Fieg x Knicks.

These guys aren’t creators per say, but they infuse their own brand/cult following and a taste for what the consumer wants into a legacy brand that needed a jolt of creative inspiration.

Will be interesting to see how this one evolves.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

MKBHD <> Ridge

One of the videos I made this week was about Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) announcing a huge partnership with Ridge.

If you don’t know Marques, he’s a king in the tech YouTube space. One of the OG YouTubers and a massive influence culturally.

For a sense, his Apple Vision Pro unboxing/review videos generated 45M views in a 2 week span.

But Ridge, originally a wallet company, is significantly less well known relative to Marques.

They have quietly built a 9-figure business selling everyday carry items like wallets, key holders, backpacks, belts, etc.

So when I saw this announcement from Marques, about becoming Ridge’s Chief Creative Partner, equity investor and Board Member, I was confused.

In my head I thought, “Why in the world would Marques go “all-in” with a less-well known brand like Ridge?”

Upon reflection, I think this was a brilliant deal and is a blueprint for future creator <> brand partnerships.

Most creators I know have the same ambitions:

  1. Grow a huge audience

  2. Build massive owned product brands in categories that solve problems for that audience

This is my goal as well.

On the surface, we have seen several creator-owned/led brands that fit this model.

A few of the common ones people reference include:

  • Logan Paul/KSI (Prime)

  • Mr. Beast (Feastables)

  • Emma Chamberlain (Chamberlain Coffee)

  • Nelk Boys (Happy Dad)

And there are a bunch more that are worth $100M+

So of course, whenever something looks easy on the outside, everyone rushes to try and replicate it in their own way.

The truth is, starting and scaling an owned product brand like this is extremely difficult.

There’s really only two ways to do it. Either hire the full operating team from scratch (usually poaching from legacy players) or partner with an existing operator-as-a-service that has expertise in this category.

Either way, the creator relies heavily on the operating team being able to execute the product vision.

Knowing MKBHD, his commitment to product quality and design is second to none.

I can’t say this for sure, but I’d bet everything that he went down this path for years to build product/engineering teams in house and develop his own products brand.

Being in the tech space, I’d imagine the products he was looking to build were everything from tech gear, everyday carry, office essentials, etc.

But, like most of these failed ventures that nobody hears about, he probably struggled to maintain his 10/10 quality expectations while also handling the workload of interviewing/hiring an operating team.

It became a huge distraction, pulling him away from what he’s best at…making videos.

Enter Ridge.

Although the Ridge brand is not a household name or a market leader in the accessories category, they have spent the last decade building up manufacturing capacity and supply chain expertise to make stuff.

So the partnership essentially gives Marques a rocketship ready to fly.

Because Ridge isn’t an entrenched brand leader, Marques can come in and put his fingerprints all over the brand.

Aside from changing the name, they are probably giving him completely creative control to come up with anything he wants.

And for Marques, it’s like getting to play in the product R&D sandbox without the risk, because the supply chain, industrial design team, and manufacturing processes are all ready to go.

So how could this fail?

  • The Ridge brand becomes an inhibitor for Marques and he feels like it holds him back from truly building an iconic brand of his own. If this happens, they could either white label their manufacturing for him or he’ll breakaway with the learnings and start again

  • The Ridge team isn’t as good at making products as it appears they are

  • MKBHD isn’t able to drive enough demand to make the deal worth it (this won’t happen)

To me, this feels like a win-win and just comes down to brand positioning and messaging.

Over the next 10 years, I believe every consumer brand will realize the need to form a similar joint venture style relationship with relevant creators.

Building a social brand (with a familiar face) in house will likely not work, because any personality that gains traction will eventually feel underpaid and leave to start on their own.

Instead, companies should pursue the JV style deal, where the creator ports their audience over and co-creates for a long time across many collections.

This differs from a single brand collab. To truly see long-term brand lift and creative direction, brands need to align with creators for the long-term.

We’re seeing this with partnerships like Teddy Santis x New Balance and Ronnie Fieg x Knicks.

These guys aren’t creators per say, but they infuse their own brand/cult following and a taste for what the consumer wants into a legacy brand that needed a jolt of creative inspiration.

Will be interesting to see how this one evolves.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

MKBHD <> Ridge

One of the videos I made this week was about Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) announcing a huge partnership with Ridge.

If you don’t know Marques, he’s a king in the tech YouTube space. One of the OG YouTubers and a massive influence culturally.

For a sense, his Apple Vision Pro unboxing/review videos generated 45M views in a 2 week span.

But Ridge, originally a wallet company, is significantly less well known relative to Marques.

They have quietly built a 9-figure business selling everyday carry items like wallets, key holders, backpacks, belts, etc.

So when I saw this announcement from Marques, about becoming Ridge’s Chief Creative Partner, equity investor and Board Member, I was confused.

In my head I thought, “Why in the world would Marques go “all-in” with a less-well known brand like Ridge?”

Upon reflection, I think this was a brilliant deal and is a blueprint for future creator <> brand partnerships.

Most creators I know have the same ambitions:

  1. Grow a huge audience

  2. Build massive owned product brands in categories that solve problems for that audience

This is my goal as well.

On the surface, we have seen several creator-owned/led brands that fit this model.

A few of the common ones people reference include:

  • Logan Paul/KSI (Prime)

  • Mr. Beast (Feastables)

  • Emma Chamberlain (Chamberlain Coffee)

  • Nelk Boys (Happy Dad)

And there are a bunch more that are worth $100M+

So of course, whenever something looks easy on the outside, everyone rushes to try and replicate it in their own way.

The truth is, starting and scaling an owned product brand like this is extremely difficult.

There’s really only two ways to do it. Either hire the full operating team from scratch (usually poaching from legacy players) or partner with an existing operator-as-a-service that has expertise in this category.

Either way, the creator relies heavily on the operating team being able to execute the product vision.

Knowing MKBHD, his commitment to product quality and design is second to none.

I can’t say this for sure, but I’d bet everything that he went down this path for years to build product/engineering teams in house and develop his own products brand.

Being in the tech space, I’d imagine the products he was looking to build were everything from tech gear, everyday carry, office essentials, etc.

But, like most of these failed ventures that nobody hears about, he probably struggled to maintain his 10/10 quality expectations while also handling the workload of interviewing/hiring an operating team.

It became a huge distraction, pulling him away from what he’s best at…making videos.

Enter Ridge.

Although the Ridge brand is not a household name or a market leader in the accessories category, they have spent the last decade building up manufacturing capacity and supply chain expertise to make stuff.

So the partnership essentially gives Marques a rocketship ready to fly.

Because Ridge isn’t an entrenched brand leader, Marques can come in and put his fingerprints all over the brand.

Aside from changing the name, they are probably giving him completely creative control to come up with anything he wants.

And for Marques, it’s like getting to play in the product R&D sandbox without the risk, because the supply chain, industrial design team, and manufacturing processes are all ready to go.

So how could this fail?

  • The Ridge brand becomes an inhibitor for Marques and he feels like it holds him back from truly building an iconic brand of his own. If this happens, they could either white label their manufacturing for him or he’ll breakaway with the learnings and start again

  • The Ridge team isn’t as good at making products as it appears they are

  • MKBHD isn’t able to drive enough demand to make the deal worth it (this won’t happen)

To me, this feels like a win-win and just comes down to brand positioning and messaging.

Over the next 10 years, I believe every consumer brand will realize the need to form a similar joint venture style relationship with relevant creators.

Building a social brand (with a familiar face) in house will likely not work, because any personality that gains traction will eventually feel underpaid and leave to start on their own.

Instead, companies should pursue the JV style deal, where the creator ports their audience over and co-creates for a long time across many collections.

This differs from a single brand collab. To truly see long-term brand lift and creative direction, brands need to align with creators for the long-term.

We’re seeing this with partnerships like Teddy Santis x New Balance and Ronnie Fieg x Knicks.

These guys aren’t creators per say, but they infuse their own brand/cult following and a taste for what the consumer wants into a legacy brand that needed a jolt of creative inspiration.

Will be interesting to see how this one evolves.

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, you should subscribe to me weekly creator journal, Blueprint. Each week, I share metrics, ideas, frameworks, and experiments designed to supercharge your thinking about content & brand building in the modern age.

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

The Future of Creator Brand Deals

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