A New Year Means New Milestones to Celebrate

ITA Group
ITA Group

Person throwing up their hand with confetti

Entering into a new year can bring about thoughts of celebrations. Are you planning on popping corks for your company this year?

When we think of company milestones or anniversaries, we often default to founding dates. However, identifying a founding date isn’t always the most straightforward task. Many companies have extensive histories involving name changes, mergers and acquisitions.

Setting aside the sometimes-challenging task of clarifying when a milestone occurs, here are a number of milestones well worth celebrating, such as product launches and entering a new market that a company can leverage to achieve internal and external business objectives. Let’s take a look at the myriad ways that companies can honor their heritage.

1. New Market Movement

Global companies tend to focus on their global company founding date as the anniversary. This approach overlooks an opportunity to highlight how long a brand has operated within a particular market, country or region. So while Coca-Cola was invented in 1886, the company could also highlight the anniversary of its arrival in the UK in 1900. In fact, Coke could celebrate a variety of market entry milestones from the 1920s through today.

However, you must consider the geographical, cultural and lingual differences of a global network. To combat this tendency of global teams to break down into local groups, successful managers have worked actively to forge a common identity that holds the team together.

Encouraging team members to share their different cultures, refusing to tolerate cultural insensitivity and creating narratives of unity are all methods that have worked to unify diverse teams.

Team members at different locations can get to know each other better by attending virtual events of unstructured, social time. The interactions will also support the development of cultural awareness and overcome language barriers. Combined with traditional diversity training, this can closely integrate remote teams that are multicultural.

2. Company Growth Milestone

M&A deals require intensity and patience. Your management team has made demands on many members of the organization, some of whom are asked to support the deal while also maintaining their “day job” responsibilities. So take a moment to celebrate the hard work. It’s great to be able to recognize and reward the entire deal team afterward. We know that mergers and acquisitions will continue to be a key strategy for companies looking to grow and attain greater market share.

Celebrate what’s been accomplished and how you arrived where you are. For example, about a month after a merger, one brand held a “retirement” party for the old logo. It might seem silly, but memories were shared and employees had that moment they needed to say goodbye before moving on.

3. Going Public

Taking your company public is not a big event—it’s a HUGE event. Whenever a company announces its IPO (initial public offering), there’s a reason to celebrate. It means more investors, a large influx of cash, and a new chapter in company history.

It also means more media exposure, new product initiatives and a boost in employee morale. Why not celebrate the history of this big event?

If your company has been public for a milestone anniversary, what better reason to have a DJ play uplifting music, like Queen’s “We Are the Champions” to remind everyone of this exciting step forward in the company’s history.

4. Brand Marks or Legacy Campaigns

Golden arches. Mouse ears. An apple missing a bite. These iconic brand marks are naturally associated with companies and products. But, more importantly, they are associated with the unique feelings you get when you either think about the brand or your past interactions with it. So why not take time to celebrate your own?

Reaching a big milestone like 100, 50 or even 10 years is a big achievement! Many brands use an anniversary as a campaign cornerstone, using it as a way to connect with customers. Make sure you are also celebrating with your employees and community. When the New York Knicks (NBA) turned 70 in 2016, they celebrated with a pair of anniversary logos—one of which was featured prominently on team uniforms. These logos were extensively deployed over the course of the 2016–17 campaign. With the sheer number of visual impressions attached to the art, the logos and the program, they quickly became familiar to fans.

5. Anniversary of a Legacy Product/Service

A company is only as good as its products or inventions. As such, the invention or patent of a groundbreaking product can become the focal point of a company celebration. For example, Coca-Cola owns many brands, but the original formula will always be the organization’s most iconic product. It makes sense that Coca-Cola would celebrate a milestone for its flagship product, Coke. And that’s just what they did in 2015, marking the 100th Anniversary of its bottle design. To celebrate, the company created an interactive digital timeline that starts in 1899—the year the company began bottling—and extends through all of its major milestones in product packaging.

Similarly, patents or new products open up the opportunity to mark innovations. There’s a huge, relatively untapped opportunity for many brands to use their tradition of inventiveness to drive awareness of their capabilities.

Take the Ford Motor Company, for example.  We would anticipate Ford doing something for the 120th anniversary of its founding. Yet there is a huge opportunity in 2022, the year preceding the anniversary, to mark the 90th anniversary of Ford inventing the V-8 engine, a milestone that carries value industrywide and highlights Ford innovation more directly.

B2B firms that have flourished for decades are understandably proud of their longevity, particularly after having endured harsh economic conditions over time. But many of those companies do not leverage their achievement, by failing to capture the attention, interest and engagement of the internal and external audiences that will ensure their continued success.

Milestone anniversaries are important and you have other business priorities—getting started early (and with a right partner like ITA Group!) can keep your eye on the ball and ensure you deliver a successful event.

Don’t forget to celebrate your employees’ anniversaries as well. Check out our ideas for keeping your years of service program fresh and engaging in the blog, Rethink and Renew Your Employee Years of Service Award Program.