Sometimes written words get you only so far.

That’s why Brafton Senior Writer Jason Kolkey often screams them.

You see, Jason’s not just a content visionary; he’s also the frontman of Chicago metal band, Nequient.


Oh, and, don’t think we would forget to mention he holds a PhD in English with a specialty in Romantic Poetry and Textual Studies.

And to tell you the truth, no one fuses inspirations from sludge metal and late-18th century art more beautifully.

‘Write the words, then yell the words’

Those are Jason’s words, and it’s quite the mantra to live by.

As the lyricist and vocalist for Nequient, his job is, quite simply, to communicate as loudly as possible the content that drives his band.

Jason Kolkey at Brafton

But music is only part of Jason’s narrative.

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University, then following up with a doctorate from Loyola University Chicago, he taught college English courses.

While completing his graduate studies, he also did contract work for a branding agency, ideating and writing marketing collateral for some of the business world’s top brands. It was during this time that he gathered experience creating long-form content like white papers and executive reports from start to finish.

That experience carried over seamlessly when Jason started at Brafton more than two years ago. First, as a Lead Editor writing and editing for an array of business sectors, then as a Senior Writer working on some of our highest profile accounts, he quickly mastered one of the key skills that separates the good from the great: voice.

“The most important thing as a writer is shifting voice effectively and balancing the demands of different audiences and assets,” Jason said. “Adapting voice on a per-project basis is an interesting change of pace and allows you to evolve your writing style.”

‘Like a rainbow in the dark’

Those are not Jason’s words, but they are legendary metal god Ronnie James Dio’s. And they perfectly sum up Jason’s tenure here at Brafton so far.


Arriving at a time when Brafton was transforming its product offerings and moving into a new content marketing age, Jason’s background helped bring other writers up to speed quickly and provided a measure of quality control amid so many moving parts.

And it came naturally to him, as his penchant for getting to the heart of the matter dates back to childhood.

“I’ve always been a huge reader, and I want to know where ideas originate, which stories writers borrow from, the backstory behind everything,” he said.

Starting with comic books and genre fiction at an early age, Jason soon explored the worlds of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which was packed with references to literary classics. Through this introduction, he dove into Dickens, Milton, Shelley and, his personal favorite, William Blake.

This type of bibliophilic mining applies to his work in the marketing space as well.

“Branding means figuring out the identity of a product or company,” he said. “Marketing is what comes next. It’s the creation of materials that support and convey that identity.”

“Branding means figuring out the identity of a product or company. Marketing is what comes next. It’s the creation of materials that support and convey that identity.”

In total, this end-to-end learning experience produces better insights and better content.

“You have to know what actually appeals to people,” he said. “Collectively, marketers flood the internet with content, but much of it misses the mark. You need the upfront legwork and the visual presentation of information to be spot-on. There really is no shortcut.”

‘Be yourself’

Asked what brands can do better, Jason was quick to extol the benefits of unique voice.

“So many companies are knockoffs of better companies,” he said. “Everyone wants to be Apple, but there is much more value in being yourself, in representing what you really believe in.”

Starting with a strong voice allows content creators to maximize creative engagement and appeal, as they have a truer sense of who they are targeting and how to do it successfully.

Examples of brands that accomplish this?

According to Jason, metal journalism bastion Decibel Magazine and satirical clickbait haven  ClickHole.

The former has a deeply engaged, passionate audience, and their editorial style serves that audience well because their writers create a level of distance from readers that allows them to offer critiques in nonpartisan and even humorous ways.

And ClickHole is, well, ClickHole.

You can take Jason’s word for it. He knows a thing or two about connecting with an audience, and he’s got the merch to prove it.

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.