Unlabel – Selling You Without Selling Out
Apr 2014

Unlabel – Selling You Without Selling Out

Can you tell from 20 feet away if this cover has actual torn fabric on it? Because I couldn’t. I had to get close enough to touch it. At that point, I might as well read the back to see what its about. And on and on until I found myself an hour later texting my mom I finally had a great Christmas idea, along with a direct link to its amazon page.


Written by clothing company Eckō Unlimited’s founder Marc Eckō, it’s a mixture of the history of the company as well as Marc’s own philosophy of how to build a brand, namely through authenticity. He shares in graphic detail his triumphs and losses, lucky breaks, and even a foolish 10 year plan where he turned himself into a massive tool for the sake of his company. Talking about his days growing up a white kid who loved hip-hop and rap and graffiti, it’s easy to spot Marc’s origin for the passion he feels fighting stereotypes and labels.

All the stories are used to explain the metanarrative of authenticity that Mark attributes as the core to a successful brand. He even created an intentionally difficult formula to finding your own authenticity, one that Malcom Gladwell described as “ambitious” and commended him for trying.

Gatekeepers vs Goalkeepers

This one of my favorite sections. The basic question is, “Whose keeping score?” On the path to greatness, we look to those who told us how high the bar is. The experts. The seasoned veterans. The Gatekeepers. If you can get their attention then you’ve made it. At least that’s the route we are sold.

To Mark, that’s messed up. Because in the world of building a brand, customers are the ones that matter most. They tell you they want more of what you make, produce, create, invent, deliver. You make them feel something they love and they’ll keep coming back. And if you do that enough times, the gatekeepers can’t argue with your success, and then act like they discovered your greatness. In reality, the people you served knew all along.

My Own Response

The first 12 years I made videos, it was primarily about how I made people feel with what I created for them, then it became a business 3 years ago. And while I can say that I never gave up my initial passion, I also started spending alot of time trying to quantify for my clients the amount of ROI they’d be getting from my work. Hours and hours researching what a “like” or “share” was worth. All the while I was discounting the comments from my clients like, “It feels so good to know we can tell people to watch a video that tells what we do.” “You really captured the heart of our organization.” “I saw that video and decided I wanted to be a part of what they were doing.” “Everyone in the room loved it! Made the entire event complete.”

This was one of the many reasons I loved this book. It gave me a license to care again.

It not only matters what you make, but how you make people feel. And doing it in a way that is skin deep, flesh to the world, using your Unique Voice. Authentic. – Mark

If you want more of a taste of Marc Eckō before venturing out to get the book yourself, checkout a talk he did for kids with TedX.