You Say It’s Your Birthday!

Corporate anniversaries present a unique marketing and positioning opportunity – formal announcements, messaging, storytelling, logos, events, webpages. But what’s most important is to tell the story while providing value – both internally and externally. Today, we’ll be chatting with Louise Boulton-Lear, CPSM, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications at DAVIS Construction to hear her take on corporate anniversaries and how to make the most of it, while staying true to your brand.

On today’s podcast, we decided to start with a little game. You’ll have to check out the recording to hear!

Can we stop talking about it as if it’s something we’re “Going through?” It’s a celebration!

CQ: So what’s your opinion of the anniversary logo?

LBL: Why do you need a logo for your anniversary if it’s a cohesive part of your branding? It’s brand cannibalization.

CQ: What’s the big deal about anniversaries?

LBL: For me, it’s about making it a part of your fully integrated marketing strategy. A corporate anniversary or any event, is an opportunity to tell your story and connect with your brand. It’s a culture value opportunity.

CQ: What anniversaries are worth celebrating?

LBL: I think it comes down to your individual company and brand, and what your benchmarks and mile-markers are. I’m a big believer that if you’ve got something to say, it better be good. And I treat all the marketing tactics the same way. So, fifty years, that’s a significant anniversary for a company that’s been around a relatively short time in comparison to competitors. If you’re a start up and you’ve been around your first year and you’ve hit your sales goals – that’s an anniversary. It just depends. The anniversary is about the convergence of your past and the propelling of your future. So whenever that sweet spot is, that sets the relevance and the need for a celebration.

CQ: How do you incorporate the anniversary into your messaging?

LBL: You have to look at it as a point of connection to your brand and story. You have a singular goal — to have everyone at your company live your brand, connect to your brand, speak with the same voice. We’re very focused as marketers about the external value of our brand and creating external value for our clients. Your internal clients – your employees – are just as important, if not more.

CQ: So you’re company is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, what are you doing to make it successful?

LBL: The first thing that we did in planning our corporate anniversary year was acknowledge that there are many different elements of our overall marketing plan that flow into this message of legacy and future. Then we sat down and we planned 18 months ahead of time. We were really brutal with ourselves and were our own devil’s advocate about what we wanted to see versus what was expected, and tired, and overplayed. We wanted to give the employees what they want, not what the marketing team thinks they want. I think that’s really, really important. Your main goal for the corporate anniversary is for everyone to have a good time and connect to your brand. If you don’t listen to what your employees are telling you, then it becomes one of those forced fun events. For us, we wanted to make it the anti-corporate event. Make it OUR party. Thrown for us, by us. And celebrate our story — as trite as that sounds.

CQ: What are some missed opportunities you’ve seen in how firm’s celebrate anniversaries?

LBL: Looking at the corporate anniversary as a singular event and not part of a bigger picture. I think the biggest missed opportunity that we all see time and time again is the opportunity to connect to your employees. It just doesn’t happen. Instead it turns into forced corporate fun. The employees either don’t understand what the purpose is, they don’t understand the value, or it isn’t valuable to THEM. If that’s the case, then divvy up the budget by the number of employees and don’t have an event. Because you’re missing the mark.

CQ: What are some of the roadblocks you’ve run into in your experience?

LBL: Budget. As marketers, there’s never enough money to do what you really want to do. So I wouldn’t call it a roadblock, but I’d call it a consideration that determines the extent of what you do. A roadblock I’ve seen my colleagues run into is a lack of connection to the culture. If you don’t have that connection, then you really can’t execute an effective corporate event like an anniversary party.

CQ: What advice do you have for marketers approaching a corporate anniversary?

LBL: Look at every single element of your marketing strategy holistically. I can not stress that enough. And give yourself enough time. Be your own devil’s advocate.


Want to hear more from Louise? Listen to the full podcast for our super fun corporate anniversary lightening round, and examples of anniversary campaigns we’ve loved (and hated!).

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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Louise’s multi-industry career spans over 20 years and 2 continents, with 1 credo: Good marketing messages your brand. GREAT marketing connects people to your brand. She approaches marketing holistically, with equal parts discipline, innovation, imagination and wit. She thrives in the unscripted dynamics of marketing – managing projects, teams and clients (both internal and external) with thoughtful care and dexterity.  Her hallmark is authentic storytelling, smart communication – and an aversion to the mundane and mediocre.

Louise’s acumen, big-picture thinking and leadership are essential to her professional success, and to developing her team’s creative capital. She excels at setting strategies that not only incorporate business goals but also connect company culture and community.

Have questions or want to chat more with Louise? Post your comments below or connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Double Dip with Louise

Join us Thursday on the podcast when we’re back with Louise, learning more about her career and how a posh sales manager from the UK ended up leading an integrated AEC marketing team in the nation’s capital.

Music by SONGO 21 – Studio sessions 2003 by SONGO 21 is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.


Next week, we’ll welcome Kenda Salisbury, Vice President, Pacific Northwest Business Development Manager for Degenkolb Engineers, to share her advice on how to negotiate like a BOSS.