How many more times can we say unprecedented? We’ll go with one more time, to say that 2020 was absolutely unprecedented in every way. From the onset of COVID-19 in early March, to the national civic unrest that challenged us to do better in June, this year has been a rallying cry for change and growth. And that we did. Today, we’re reflecting on what we’ve experienced at Otherwise, the pivotal shifts we’ve made to our way of being in the world and the successes we shared along the way.
Navigating the “New Normal”
The year started out inconspicuously enough, with our new website launch in February and the occasional touching elbows, rather than shaking hands or hugging, in early March. But when Governor Pritzker announced Illinois’ shelter-in-place order on March 20, we quickly shifted gears. There would be no elbow touching for quite some time, to say the least — instead, we migrated all operations remotely and began convening for Monday morning meetings over Zoom, coffee cups in hand from our respective kitchens.
As we learned how to stay connected with one another and with clients in this new virtual world, we also made a concerted effort to stay-up-to-date with the evolving landscapes in our clients’ industries. This involved keeping pace with the media flurry and countless webinars. From our findings, we crafted thoughtful summaries on emerging trends to share with clients, ensuring we stayed proactive, adaptive and cutting edge in our approach, always.
Engaging with Our Community
When the unjust death of George Floyd sparked national protests in June, each of our team members were engaging with the movement in their own ways. Coming together, we discussed how Otherwise as a creative agency could play a role in creating necessary change, too. We focused on continuing to listen and educate ourselves and one another, and uplifting the voices and vital work of those in our community. We also recognized that community involvement is an integral part of branding. Therefore, we made the decision to incorporate social principles as a new component in our brand messaging strategy, starting with our own internal messaging.
We took our community involvement one step further in August when we joined the Civic Alliance to increase voter engagement and turnout in the upcoming election. In the months that followed, we rallied to recruit poll workers through Power the Polls, to locate new physical space as polling places or ballot drops, and to fund critical PPE needed for poll workers — with astounding success.
Celebrating Client Success
Throughout 2020, we remained unwavering in our commitment, passion and enthusiasm for collaborating with clients. Here are just a few of the highlights:
We celebrated the recognition of our clients, 1400 Monroe and MG Group, in the Chicago Agent Magazine Choice Awards, winning accolades for Best Development of the Year and Best Agent Website, respectively. We cheered along, too, when our client District House was honored with an Award of Excellence from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities in their Multi-Unit Residential Category.
Staying true to our newly-illuminated social principles, Community Conscious, we also engaged in pro-bono work throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. After meeting at a community cleanup in Grand Crossing, we embarked on an earnest collaboration with Jon and Jordan at alt_ Chicago to craft their new brand messaging. Meanwhile, working with LISC Chicago, we’re incubating a new approach to developing Quality of Life plans for Chicago communities using brand as a platform for inquiry. We’re also partnering with Sunshine Enterprises to develop a new model for Brand + Marketing Coaching, supporting their growing group of alumni entrepreneurs by harnessing the generosity of branding and marketing professionals across Chicagoland.
From launching the Sage Collective website to our continued collaboration with Optima to the courageousness of a client launching a new business this year (hello, Noetica Group), there are so many partnerships and friendships we have to be grateful for this year — and this only begins to scratch the surface.
While 2020 may not have been what we were expecting, it was this immense feeling of connection, community and collaboration that became the highlight of our year. And we can’t wait to see what we can create together in 2021.