Common Craft has taken the internet technology dilemma of “too much information but not enough understanding,” and found a way to teach people about it, while making a profit. Their “in Plain Site” video template is simple, creative and informative. During our previous class, Lee LeFever of Common Craft told us about his small Seattle based company, “we don’t do things because we’re supposed to do; we do it because it makes us happy.” This is extremely important for anybody looking for some enjoyment in their career. Even though their company is taking off, they’re managing it in a way that allows them to do what they want. According to a Read Write Web article, “inquiries from clients were coming fast and furious, the company saw between five and ten inquiries for custom videos every day.”
Taking a different stab at the traditional business model is working well for Common Craft. According to Video Nuze May of this year, “they’re already generating $15K/mo in license fees.” But being a small company and trying to monetize the YouTube model has its issues. While LeFever didn’t talk in-depth about the copyright issues, one of his recent blog posts expressed their concern with popularity. As LeFever commented, their good “Google juice” made them a target for imitation. Once the concept of ‘in Plain English’ caught on, people felt compelled to mimic their brand: “when a video uses paper cut-outs on a whiteboard and ‘in Plain English’ in the title, people may mistake it for part of the Common Craft video series. This confusion compromises the hard work we’ve put into building the Common Craft brand of ‘in Plain English’ videos.”
Rooted deep in social media, they were able to conjure up the support of their fans and serve justice against infringers. Common Craft has also introduced a licensing plan for their videos, which allows people to use them once, for intranet sites, or commercial use. LeFever mentioned that, while most of their videos are available online for free viewing, often businesses go the extra mile to purchase the correct license. They have also gone to create video categories, which makes them even more distinguishable as a brand versus just a creative group.
Their unique business model would an interesting research project. I see some concern in the delicate balance in this company of two, but yet don’t know much about the day-to-day business. Looking at Common Craft’s success, I wouldn’t say you could duplicate the model and apply it to a similar venture; it is the individuals that make the different inside this model.