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, product launches or entering a new market.
Setting aside the sometimes-challenging task of clarifying when a milestone occurs, here are a number of milestones well worth celebrating 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. Channel Partner Anniversary
No matter what your industry, you can benefit from a strong partner program that brings in new business. Recognizing their commitment to you and your products or service is a must. As your channel partners’ loyalty to you grows, so should your appreciation to them.
Let your partners know you care by staying connected digitally as well as regular in-person interaction. Send newsletters to give milestone shout-outs and share the latest news. Consider loyalty program that rewards partners based on their level of engagement with your products and services. By staying in your partners’ minds, you’re more likely to get their referrals.
4. Going Public
Taking your company public is not a big event—it’s a HUGE one. When a company announces its IPO there’s a reason for team members to celebrate. Among other things, it means the start of a new chapter in the company’s 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?
For companies with a legacy of being public, a milestone anniversary is an ideal time to have a DJ play uplifting music, like Queen’s “We Are the Champions” to remind everyone of this exciting moment.
5. 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 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.
6. 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, Apple has create a great many products consumers can’t live without, but the iPhone and Mac will likely remain the company’s[JS2] most iconic products. So It makes sense that Apple would celebrate a milestone while also introducing innovations to those products. To celebrate, Apple used the launch of the iPhone X to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. In 2018, Apple celebrated the 20th anniversary of the iMac.
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.
7. Employee/Individual Milestones
Make sure you include your employees in your promotion. After all, each and every one is a brand ambassador.
You have the chance to turn every anniversary into a relationship-building opportunity. Don’t just celebrate big anniversaries that end in 0 or 5. Come up with a special promotion that puts odd-year anniversaries to good use, too. Create personalized “thank-you” cards and offer premium rewards to acknowledge the importance of the milestone as well as your appreciation for what they do each and every day.
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.