The year was 2008, and I remember leaving my last college class with enthusiasm for life and excitement for the unknown. My undergrad degree was Business with a specialization in Integrated Marketing Communications, and as I made my way down Centennial Walkway to sell my textbooks for a quarter of the price I purchased them for, I stared longingly at my IMC
book bible. The pages were over-highlighted, I’m sure there were a few Diet Coke stains, and the information would probably be outdated in a year or two. Was there any reason to hold on to it? Would I ever reference it in my future marketing career? And most importantly, did it make sense to bypass the pitcher of cheap beer I was planning on purchasing with my textbook cash-out? Against better judgement, I kept it anyway.
Five years later, I finally had the opportunity to put my beloved IMC textbook to use in the “real world” as they say. We had made the decision to rebrand internally, and we wanted to relaunch the right way. I cracked open ‘ol reliable (now in its 10th edition…yikes!) and flipped to the section about creating an integrated marketing strategy. There was audience analysis, defining objectives, the 4 Ps (product, price, place, promotion), and even performance evaluation… Basically, everything we needed to kick ass and take numbers with the ThunderActive launch! I paid my respects to Mickey Belch and got to work.
After pumping knowledge into the ThunderActive Marketing Plan for about a year, we successfully launched our new website and brand last month! If you’re still catching up, you can read more about establishing our vision and values, some new site highlights, and even the reasoning behind our new look. The purpose of this post however, is onefold: to say THANK YOU to everyone who played a part in our rebranding!
Movers and Shakers
In the beginning, there were a few people that lit a fire under our Thunder bums to get the party started!
Back in 2012, I distinctly remember chatting with our friends at CPC Strategy at a local meetup. One of the company’s founders, Rick, told me something I will never forget. He said “Thunder’s content is amazing and the information is really valuable. But you’ve got to do something with that site… It looks like a kindergarten website!” He still claims he never said this, but who really cares in hindsight. It got the ball rolling, so thanks for those harsh, but much-needed words Rick.
After making the decision to rebrand, we knew we had an opportunity to define our culture the right way. It had grown organically over the years, but there were great benefits to nailing down the specifics. We called our friend (and business coach) Karie Kaufmann to help us create a framework for our vision and values. We surveyed employees, partners, peers, clients, and friends, and spent hours creating 1 sentence (our vision) and 7 words (our values) that truly defined our company as it was, and where we wanted it to grow. These values stuck around, and we’re thankful that Karie was able to help facilitate that imperative process.
Another person that played a pivotal role in the beginning stages was our dear friend Susan Rust. Susan has been a valued Thunder partner since our company’s foundation in 2008, and when it was time to start working on our website, we looked to her for project management and wireframe guidance. During our first meeting, I remember having anxiety about managing this massive project in addition to my client work, and being a brat about who would manage the project internally, as well as communicate with the developers. Susan brought me back down to earth and told me this would be a huge team effort, and reminded me not to get ahead of myself along the way. Finally, Susan was also a big champion for a portfolio website section that would show off Thunder’s experience in many verticals and services. This became the bulk of our website content, and we’re already seeing landing page traffic and conversions from the “Our Work” case studies. Thanks a million Susan!
Designers and Developers
Did you know we designed our website in-house? While we didn’t used to call ourselves web designers, we proudly own that title now. However, when we first got started, we had planned on working with a web design agency to help us design and develop the new Thunder site. My, how things changed along the way.
In 2008, Max and I first met at a local web design agency where I had just completed an internship. Digital Telepathy creates incredible websites with a heavy emphasis on user experience, so we were convinced they were the right partner for our new website. We had one meeting with them, and they sent us out the door with a heavy homework assignment. At the time, they could see we weren’t ready for them. We didn’t know our story, or at least we hadn’t gotten it down on paper. They knew we needed to define ourselves and the message we wanted to share with our audience before embarking on a website redesign. After that was established, everything else would fall into place. We started working on our positioning and defining website personas. Once we became more familiar with our place in the interactive marketing industry, we just kept moving forward until one day it dawned on us that the best website design would come from within. So thanks to Arnold and the team at DT for encouraging us to get back to the basics. We owe you one (or 50).
And I want to give another shout-out to Phoebe, our talented Director of Design! She worked closely with the Marketing Team to come up with a design that truly embodied Thunder, and we were consistently impressed with her results. I appreciate Phoebe’s attention to detail and quest for excellence. If you haven’t seen her amazing post about the rebrand, do yourself a favor and check it out.
When it did come time to build out our awesome site (powered by WordPress, of course), we looked no further than our friends at BinaryM. We’ve referred tons of clients to them, and we love the work that they do. We had some big dreams with our site, and Travis, Chris, and Matt made magic happen. Our favorite part about working with them is their curiosity for figuring things out. If there’s something they CAN’T do on WordPress, we haven’t been able to stump ‘em yet! Thanks dudes for being smart and patient with our many, many requests.
With our launch, we also decided to donate money to a local charity we all cared about. For every unique social share with #HelloThunderActive, we will be giving $10 to the San Diego Humane Society! In the end, we reached our goal of $500 for our favorite furry organization, and counted over 100 social shares with #HelloThunderActive. We plan to spend a day with our local Humane Society campus, so we will definitely keep you posted with adorable, awwwwwh-worthy photos. Big thanks to everyone for sharing the love on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!
It’s been an awesome month (and year!) for our company, and things are only looking up. If you see one of these hoodies in the wild, make sure to give us a high-five or three to celebrate this exciting time for Thunder!