A year of change: our 2020 story

Helen Selby

Before we begin: let us say that this is not a tale of victory. Or smugness.

It’s not a ‘wow look at what we’ve achieved’ anecdote.

Or an attempt to convince you that we’ve made it through this year with spirits high and business running as usual.

The reality is: the year is almost over. And while it’s been filled with more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan script (spoiler: the virus did it) we can’t help but feel proud of the way we’ve navigated it. And grateful for the way we were able to adapt.  

It hasn’t been easy. And we’ve not had all the answers. But looking back has brought us a much-needed sense of hope for next year and beyond.

Although we’re not putting the Blackad 2020 scrapbook together just yet, here’s what we’d paste inside if we were… 

Remote sessions that brought teams together

In terms of practicalities, we were ready to rock and roll when it came to remote working; with laptops, mobile phones and cloud apps already in use. And as long as there’s a good internet connection and a reliable source of coffee, the Blackad team can always get stuff done. But it was going to be harder for our brand messaging sessions to make the switch.

Our brand workshops rely on dynamic chat, collaboration, and blank walls or whiteboards ready to be adorned with neon sticky notes. They’re where we get to know our clients, and where big brand ideas are born. The same applies to our copywriting training courses, which have traditionally involved face-to-face sessions.

So, we scoured the web. We researched, compared and tested until we found the digital workspace of our dreams. Now, we can map out ideas that are just as big, share copywriting advice just as clearly, and get clients as involved as we would in a bricks-and-mortar session. 

Nothing groundbreaking, perhaps. But thank goodness for technology, eh?

Industry insight with trademark banter

Ok, maybe ‘trademark’ is too strong. But we like to spread joy where we can. With sensitivity, authenticity, and a genuine warmth that we can only hope makes people smile.

Regardless, the point is that as a team of writers and marketing pros with a medley of experience, we wanted to share some of the things we’ve learnt over the years. Not just because it would help our audience find out who we are and what we’re about. But because it would give us a way to support a heap of businesses and individuals with one thing in common: little-to-no budget to spend on marketing during an unprecedented situation. And a desire to truly understand and help their customers as much as possible during these uncertain times (there, you can tick off ‘during these uncertain times’ and ‘unprecedented’ on your pandemic marketing bingo).

In short: we love talking to people, and this was a small thing we could do to help businesses in need of advice.

The plan? No preaching. No ambulance-chasing. Just honest discussions and suggestions. This took the form of our Brand Agony podcast, webinars and guides packed with industry tips. 

Some brand TLC

As a copywriting agency, one of the hardest things to do is set aside time to work on our own brand. Yet, during some parts of the year, we ended up with a little more time than we’d anticipated. 

While a dip in business is never a good thing, we used the extra time on our hands to ramp up our marketing activity. This involved:

A new hire

Rachel joined the team in April as our magic Marketing Coordinator. (She’s currently seconded to help a big client of ours communicate the complexities of Brexit, but that’s another story…)

A new brand identity 

New logo. New colours. New illustrations. With kudos to the talented Asa Roger and Giulia Giovannini.

A new website

The biggie, and a long time coming. We wrote all of our new site content in-house, and worked with our pals Rair on the build.

Together, these changes have allowed us to engage with our audience better, reinforce our online presence, and keep our brand voice alive.

A fortunate position

There’s certainly been plenty of rough with these snippets of smooth. But ultimately, we’re lucky to be in an industry that’s been able to flex to new ways of working. 

Make no mistake, we’ve seen businesses and individuals – in both our professional and personal lives – who have lived a very different 2020. 

So, we’ll raise a virtual glass to a year of profound perseverance. Whatever form that may have taken for you.  

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Described as "beautiful and succinct". Shucks.