What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

Between beach weeks, summer Fridays and more than a few “client” golf outings, we actually managed to get a lot done this summer. Like any good brand should, we used this traditionally slow time of year as an opportunity to do something we’ve recommended so many times to our clients and prospects: take a long, hard look at your brand, and take action to make it better.

But before the hard part, we took time to celebrate our 5-year anniversary in July. I mean, really celebrate. (Apologies to the rest of the crowd on the Wolf Trap lawn that night). It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short time. From a handful of people crammed in a temporary space to 40-plus working on everything from responsive websites for Fortune 500 companies to eyebrow-raising show posters for a local theater company.

Then we got down to business, starting by looking at the RP3 brand. A lot has changed in 5 years. We’re offering new skills, thinking about challenges differently, and working with clients in new ways to build stronger relationships between people and brands. Our recent work certainly reflects that. So how we present ourselves and the story we tell about ourselves should, too. (Stay tuned for an updated look, and a totally new website, coming soon.)

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We then reviewed our internal processes. Today’s environment doesn’t allow for linear thinking. There’s no time for drawn-out discovery phases, or waiting for some magical “big idea” to appear out of thin air. You have to think fast, learn on the fly, and optimize as you go. You need to assemble a diverse group of brains, work along parallel paths, share often, and let the best ideas rise to the top. And you can’t be afraid to fail. That’s not an easy thing to put on paper. But just thinking about it has already improved how we work together, and more importantly, how we’ll work with our clients in the future.

We also forced ourselves to be more selective about the kind of work we pursue. We’ve learned from experience what kinds of clients are right for us and vice versa. We do our best work with brands that challenge the status quo, and want to break away from category conventions to forge more meaningful relationships with their customers. We like to be an extension of our clients’ internal team, digging in and learning their entire business, so whatever we create will have a real impact on the bottom line. As a not-so-distant start-up, we still fight the urge to say “yes” to every opportunity. But we’re getting much better at saying “no.”

Finally, we continued to build our culture of curiosity, by investing heavily in developing our own talent and attracting new talent from unexpected places. Our intern program grew dramatically, including students majoring in everything from marketing to international studies. We deepened our relationship with Howard University’s advertising program, mentoring students from this historically black college on how to get into a business that’s unfortunately been historically white. Our tech team organized and spoke at various Wordpress Events, and advised aspiring developers who lacked formal training on how to switch careers. We even turned the World Cup into a learning experience, with a popular Flipboard that explored the intersection of Technology and Futbol.

None of this was easy. (Other than the celebration part.) I totally get why clients sometimes balk at the suggestion. But we’ve emerged stronger and reinvigorated for the challenges ahead. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when the DC beltway isn’t gridlocked every morning.