After reflecting on my last decade in business, I’ve come to a few conclusions. When starting a business, there is a tendency to define it by what it is not. It’s not going to be typical. It’s not going to be like everyone else. It’s nothing like the places you may have worked before. It’s going to be different. But the irony is that in focusing on what we are not, we all end up the same. Because it is hard to be unique. It is hard to be true.
It took me most of our 10 years in business to date to actually define what started as Starburst and has since become FKA.
Two years ago, we started the branding process that would culminate in our new name and identity. The first step in the process? An internal branding exercise in which we asked everyone individually to choose three attributes that defined our agency, culturally and collectively. The results were telling.
Number 3. Fun. Why not! Fun is good!
Number 2. Knowledgeable. Phew! That one was a bit of a relief. At least we know what we’re doing.
And number 1. Ambitious.
I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder in my life than I was the moment I realized my team decided that we were defined by ambition more than anything else. Yeah, I have kids, I’m proud of them, all the time, every day, obviously…but this was a high watermark.
Now, if you didn’t know already, it’s probably dawning on you how we settled on our new name. Fun. Knowledgeable. Ambitious. F. K. And above all, A.
Ambition. It defines us. We’re driven by it. Relentlessly so.
Ambition drives us to grow. 571% over the past five years. From one person (me) to twenty-seven. We are now among the largest agencies in the city.
Ambition drives us to seek out like-minded clients. Many of them retail but all of them successful businesses and organizations who demand results and share a philosophy which we internally refer to only semi-jokingly as “sell or die.”
Ambition drives us to learn more. To be better. To adapt to the accelerating pace of evolution in marketing and communications.
Ambition drives our processes. At FKA, we have banished “set it and forget it.” In every project, every campaign, every tactic, we seek out opportunities to learn from the results and make it better. Advertising is research. (Research that sells, too—what better kind, really.) Act. Analyze. Adapt. That is our mantra. Ambition means a bias for action. We prioritize doing and learning.
It is ambition that has brought us here, to this moment in time, this celebration.
And I want to say a few thank-yous. First, I want to thank all our clients. We are nothing without our clients and we are humbled that so many came out to celebrate with us last night. I also want to thank all our vendors, partners and contemporaries who joined us too.
Of course, I want to thank my team. Our team. The wonderfully diverse, incredibly talented and highly ambitious group of people that make FKA what it is. It’s a pleasure and an honour to work with every one of you. I especially want to thank Kim Odland and Robert Lennon, my business partners. Their investment and interest in this agency have been instrumental.
And finally, I want to thank my wife, Mieke. She has been a steadfast supporter (and frequent critic—always constructive, of course) of everything I do and I absolutely couldn’t do it without her.
Thank you all! See you in ten years. Or later this week, more likely—we have a lot of meetings!