Our team had an ideation session recently to think through our yearly holiday mailer. During the process, it dawned on me that our business has been around for 15 years. Fifteen years! That’s hard to believe. As I sat there with some of my team, who 15 years ago would not be found in a meeting but more like a middle or elementary school classroom, I began to wrap my head around the evolution of thinkPARALLAX and the world as it relates to what we do.
We currently define ourselves as a branding and communications agency focused on amplifying impact. And when I do the math, I realize that we have actually rebranded ourselves at least five times since our inception. Parallax Visual Communication started as a humble graphic design firm operating out of our garage in 2003. Three years later as the digital space was starting to boom, we morphed into Parallax Branding & Interactive. Around that time we realized that all of the projects we had been taking on had a common thread: focusing on the greater good. So we rebranded ourselves as a communications agency with exactly that focus. Then after a brief time, we streamlined that focus to sustainability.
Which brings us to now. thinkPARALLAX has grown into a branding and communications agency that gives meaning and voice to brands’ sustainability, social impact, and citizenship initiatives. We are on a mission to better the world by articulating and amplifying our clients’ impact.
As the business has changed, so has the skillsets of the people on our team. If I’d told myself back in 2003 that Parallax Visual Communication would be developing communication strategies and messaging for Fortune 100 companies and at times not even being responsible for design work, I honestly wouldn’t have believed it. How we market ourselves has become more sophisticated as well. Our original postcard mailers and trade show booths are a thing of the past. Now, thought leadership and content marketing drive new business. Marketing is always changing and agencies have to keep pace to stay relevant.
Like any business, we’ve weathered a recession and our share of ups and downs. There’s a level of risk and uncertainty inherent in owning a business and I don’t think that stress (or excitement, if you see it that way) ever disappears. For this reason, it is essential to prepare financially and strategically, both internally and with our clients, for whatever the future holds.
But on a lighter note, as I look back over the past 15 years, a few laughs come to mind when thinking about just how much the world and our business has changed:
- Our first ever project was an event invitation for one of the Big 4 accounting firms. I was ecstatic to bill $600 for the project!
- Tucked away in storage are binders full of CDs, DVD’s, and a box of hard drives — all of which house old files and client work. A stark contrast to now, where everything lives on the Cloud, and we get annoyed when it takes more than five seconds to access a file.
- We used to build shopping carts and intranets from scratch. Today there are about 20 off-the-shelf options, from Workplace to Shopify, that allow anyone to plug-and-play in almost minutes.
- Working from home wasn’t really an option, but now we telecommute Wednesdays and Fridays, and several of our employees work entirely remotely, all in an effort to help reduce our carbon footprint.
- Virtual meetings have become the norm, file sharing programs eliminate the need for a call, and when we do meet, it’s often in a coffee shop or co-working space.
- “Purpose” and “sustainability” barely existed in 2003, but now you can’t go ten minutes without hearing about a product made with recycled materials, a brand taking a stand, or the innovative corporate culture of some company.
Needless to say, we are living in a new, transparent world moving at light speed, with technology connecting and pushing us forward. Global issues such as climate change, poverty, inequality, and hunger have moved to the forefront as our population and awareness increase. And more and more, consumers are demanding transparency. All of this requires a new level of corporate responsibility and communication that focus on the impact on people, communities, and the environment.
As the world and our business evolve, I feel fortunate that we’ve been able to create our niche: helping companies tell their stories of the positive impacts they are making in the world. While our business could have become a digital marketing agency building out sites to sell products and focused on conversions (and I’d probably be living closer to the beach), I’m grateful that we have focused on enabling companies to amplify their impact.
Reflecting over the past 15 years has me thinking about the future, as any business owner should. When future-proofing our business, how will the world change 15 years from now… and how will our business evolve with it?