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The Unus Annus experience was emotional and positively unique, leaving a long-lasting imprint on its viewers by way of its intentional demise
What (was) Unus Annus?
24 hours ago, YouTube content creators deleted their channel Unus Annus during a live stream to an audience of over 1 million viewers. Each day, for 365 days, Mark (Markiplier) and Ethan (CrankGamePlays) uploaded new content to YouTube, ending every video with the channel’s iconic countdown timer ticking away. They promised that, when the clock ran out, the channel (and every video in it) would be deleted. They held firm to their promise and succeeded in creating something so much more than a project designed to be discarded.
Solid, Consistent Brand Building from Start to Finish
Brand-wise, their work was exceptional, nothing short of a monumental accomplishment, especially given the leanness of their team. As brand expert Marty Neumeier has said (pardon the paraphrase), defining your brand is less about what you say it is and more about what others say it is. In this case, Unus Annus was so successful at conveying their brand that much of the fan art (and dare I say, even some memes) brilliantly captured the spirit and concepts behind it.
The videos featuring Mark and Ethan may have varied tremendously in content but the themes ran clearly throughout. Their brand colors were stark black and white. Fitting, given the black and white nature of time and death. Their language of “deleting the channel” was consistently synonymous with death. The recurring motto was “memento mori,” which roughly translates to “remember you will die.” All of these elements were intentional, sometimes stated plainly, and sometimes implied.
Unus Annus was always meant to be a reminder that the clock is ticking and that what truly matters is what we do with the time we have. The goal was always to stir up their viewers to feel something, a point that Mark stated explicitly during the live stream. As the clock neared all zeroes, the unmistakable feeling that something real was about to be gone was tangible. And in the closing moments, the clock ticked its final second, the screen cut to black, and the channel was gone.
What’s so striking is the completeness of the brand. Many brands have come and gone but Unus Annus was simultaneously created with its literal deadline. We observed its start and end without question. It didn’t fade away, it ended with a bang, with an abrupt cut to black that proved oddly reassuring. Because it was always meant to happen that way.
Only the Beginning
There is much more to be said about this experience and about this brand, but I wanted to write a few things down while the loss is still fresh in my mind. It’s difficult to explain it, honestly. It’s maybe akin to moving away from a good friend that you know you’ll likely never see again, or, even if you do, you know it won’t be the same. The emotion is very real, and that is again a testament to the remarkable actualization of the brand.
Yes, the timer has run out on the channel, and it really is gone. But our clocks are still ticking. We still have a limited time here on this earth — what will you do with yours?
TL;DR Unus Annus was a 365-day, self-destructing YouTube channel that was deleted by its creators, successfully closing its own book and proving itself an extraordinary project whose memory alone will live on due to its strength as a brand.