For sixteen years, Bates Creative worked with over 200 clients to build brands, connect with members and audiences, and create impact. But clients are looking for a new relationship with their agency, so we decided to reinvent it. We wanted to build something bigger. Something unique. In 2019, Bates Creative rebranded to Beyond Definition, an agency for what’s next. In one year we have watched our team evolve and grow, taken on client projects in new industries, and explored dozens of opportunities to help our brand provide more value for our audience. Read on to learn more about the challenges we faced, opportunities we have seen, and what the future holds for Beyond Definition.

In a year of uncertainty and difficulty, we’ve partnered with our clients to walk through the uncertainty and connect with their audiences in new and relevant ways.

Brands must recognize how they can help their audiences and put their people first. We are seeing a big push in user-generated content (think GoPro and Thrive Global), a shift in brand messaging, and that purpose trumps products.

Here are a few more things we learned:

Stability doesn’t really exist

There’s an old African proverb that we’ve all heard – ‘To go fast, go alone, to go far, go together.’

2020 taught us that community is the only way to build stability. From conversations with the Robert Wood Johnson FoundationNational AquariumFranklinCovey, and so many more, it is obvious that those insights and connections are what will drive our industry forward.

The content landscape has radically changed

As Michael Barnett of Black and Decker told us, if content is king, distribution is king kong. And that got us thinking about content and its actual role in marketing and communications. The traditional marketing strategy of “post every day and they will come” no longer works. Audiences expect more from the brands they follow.

Right now, content still has a role to play. But conversation is king. So is social responsibility, unification, and community. Remember, content production only matters if it means something.

Design alone will not save you

The best logo in the world will not help declining sales or an eroding membership base. And it certainly won’t fix a broken company culture and public image. Without diagnosing the root of your pain points, and learning how to correct them, design may be a waste of time.

Events are about to get way more interesting

Everyone has talked about the push to digital events and remote communication. But what about the solutions?

As Alex Blair, Director of Strategy said in a previous blog,

“I’m very optimistic that the transition to virtual workshops and events will allow people from anywhere in the world to participate in a way that still feels very engaging and interactive. Removing the barrier and burden of travel and giving us a broader pool of participants is really exciting — I love the idea of being able to hear even more voices and perspectives, and only needing an hour or two from them to get that. Our clients may be in one location, but their audiences may be scattered around the country or the world — and now we can bring all of those stakeholders into a “room” together!”

Organizations that can effectively communicate and conduct business virtually will own the future.

WHAT WE’RE PROUD OF

We have experienced tremendous growth in terms of knowledge and what we can deliver to our clients. From the successful launch of the second annual 24/7 Day to our “Staying Connected During COVID 19” blog series, our agency has worked hard to provide value to the communities we serve.

Smooth transitions to remote work

Our team adapted to Slack and Zoom like many others with an emphasis on remaining engaged. This has meant weekly team calls, increased collaboration internally, and reminders for everyone to take mental breaks to keep the team focused and together despite working apart.

For clients, we explored several new ways to communicate. Miro and InVision have offered a different approach to shared collaboration that promotes participation. Using a combination of those tools with our in-person workshop experience has created an environment where conversation is welcomed.

Launching a creative channel

What started as our agency’s response to communicating through crisis has turned into its own creative project. We launched the first episode of Going Beyond on May 28, 2020, and have since interviewed some amazing guests including Michelle Wildman (SteelFire Kitchen & Bar), Sam Patell (RWJF), Michelle Shen (Little Kids Rock), Erica Swerdlow (Wyecomm), Parker Anger (District Cannabis), and many more!

Going Beyond serves as a touchpoint between brands and audiences, offering an honest and vulnerable look into our world that acknowledges the challenges and failures different industries are facing. We are looking to have real, valuable conversations with obvious takeaways that our viewers can apply to their own life.

Award wins

Hardware is great. Results are better.

We are proud to have won nineteen awards during the Summer for clients including the Smithsonian, Transurban, CREW Network, NACS Foundation, NACS, ASCM, AUTM, AFA, and MOAA. These awards show just how far Beyond Definition has come as an agency and validates the direction that we are headed.

“I feel like the rebrand and the challenges we have had to face this year have provided me with the opportunity to grow beyond my expectations. Reading, attending virtual conferences and meeting and commisterating with colleagues has given me a self created Masters in Business. They say the best way to learn is being thrown into the fire. After almost 25 years in business, this was the fire.  Celebrating the ups and downs of last year is real and has made us stronger, very thankful and ready for what’s next.” – Debbie Bates-Schrott, Founder & CEO

WHAT’S NEXT FOR BEYOND DEFINITION?

The future of Beyond Definition, a Capitol Communicator sponsor, is about building a healthy team and a healthy business. 2020 presented obstacles for every organization, and we proved that our team can adjust, innovate, and continue working through roadblocks of all sizes. We want to emphasize establishing long-term growth in the form of building new relationships and delivering excellence to every customer. The future looks even better.

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