We’ve seen some ridiculous things happen on Kickstarter in the last few years — remember the amazing potato salad that went viral? I still maintain that was some sort of undercover ploy by Kickstarter to remind people that they were still relevant and projects of every kind could get funded if they were interesting enough — but I digress. The ridiculous thing I want to talk about today is a card game brought to us, in part, by The Oatmeal.
Now, most of you are probably thinking exactly what the major news outlets have been printing about this thing: “Who the hell is The Oatmeal?” The reason they don’t know is because they’ve not been initiated — but The Oatmeal is actually a perfect example of making Internet branding work. He lives and breathes his branding efforts and he doesn’t apologize for the irreverence and sheer insanity he brings to Internet culture.
The Oatmeal Story
Matthew Inman was a graphic designer based in Seattle when he started drawing the web comic, The Oatmeal. Because he didn’t give two craps about who or what was reading his comic, he wrote about whatever he wanted — he drew and drew during his off time and spent his days graphically designing websites and whatnot. His last post to his site 0at.org was in 2011, explaining his decision to switch his focus to The Oatmeal (launched two years previous).
It seems Inman was seeing much more success as The Oatmeal than he ever could have realized as another slightly quirky graphic designer. Although some may argue this is because he wasn’t that great of a graphic designer or because he cared so much more for his work at The Oatmeal, I think it’s because he put a great deal more effort into branding The Oatmeal than he ever did for himself.
The Oatmeal became an Internet sensation practically overnight, yet Matthew Inman, graphic designer, is a name that people still barely recognize. The Oatmeal wrote and drew horrific things that people couldn’t get enough of and describes himself thusly on his site:
“The Oatmeal’s real name is Matthew and he lives in Seattle, Washington. He subsists on a steady diet of crickets and whiskey. He enjoys long walks on the beach, gravity, and breathing heavily through his mouth. His dislikes include scurvy, typhoons, and tapeworm medication.“
Among his first published comics was one called “5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth.” Since then, he’s published quizzes focusing on the number of tapeworms that could live in your stomach, drawn comics about brutally murdering anyone in your way with a shovel and authored touching pieces about his dog. The Oatmeal is the maniac that Matthew Inman never was and we love him for it.
OMG! Exploding Kittens!
Exploding Kittens is yet another extension of The Oatmeal’s branding and features his wildly popular comic style. This basic card game promises us maneuvers like attacks that “deploy the thousand-year back hair” and opportunities to look into the deck to “see the future” whereby the player can “feast upon a unicorn enchilada and gain its enchilada powers.” Fans of The Oatmeal would tell you that this all sounds about right for their favorite web comic.
This is why the game has so far managed to raise $5.9 million dollars, despite the initial funding goal of just $10,000. Then again, the funding amount isn’t really what’s so remarkable about the whole thing. I mean, there are plenty of ideas on KickStarter that have managed to raise some bucks. That potato salad I mentioned earlier…. it raised a cool $50k, but it took some time. Exploding Kittens fully funded in 20 minutes. In less than an hour it had raised over $100,000. There’s a lot more behind those kinds of numbers than just having a KickStarter account.
Believe it or not, kiddos, this is what branding looks like in practice. Because The Oatmeal has become a well-known Internet brand in only four short years, Matthew Inman just shattered a whole bunch of funding records. It wasn’t a coincidence, it wasn’t an accident, it was the culmination of years of consistent branding efforts on his part.
Your company can shatter internal and external records just as easily with a consistent and appealing brand image. As I’ve stated time and again, it’s a simple formula: known demographic + consistent brand image + Social engagement = success! Anybody can do it. You can do it. It’s a piece of cake, really.