(This is a long one, folks. Grab your favorite drink and get comfy.)

The Details

As always, we start with the numbers:

  • 11 site launches 
  • 7 identity projects
  • Over $300MM in capital raised by clients 
  • Two clients successfully sold their companies at a premium valuation

There’s Truth in Adversity

Let’s get the ‘blech’ stuff out of the way first: we’re still in a pandemic. It’s better, we’re vaccinated, the kids are on their way to full vaccination status, and we’re getting together safely and reasonably. But there’s still this COVID-19 rock in our shoe reminding us with every step that things still don’t feel normal. On the business side, the pandemic has been a source of uncertainty and frustration. We still can’t quite get the timing of this thing right. Is it over? Is it kinda over? Do I need to worry about variants? How much? Uncertainty is as bad for business as it is for society, and we’re very much looking forward to a time where the ground isn’t shifting beneath us.

The pandemic, though, proves a few things that we’ve long known to be true:

  • Digital companies are resilient companies: companies that have figured out how to transact and interact online are in much better shape than those that haven’t.
  • Work from anywhere is here: Digital is the answer to staffing issues and it affords you access to the right people, not just the best of what’s around.
  • Digital is permanent: If you’re waiting for the pandemic to subside to ‘get back to normal,’ you’ll find a world on the other side where you simply can’t compete.

Service Businesses are People Businesses First – Welcome, Kelly!

In our last review, we talked about how we were always looking for T-Shaped people to help us build better brands for our clients. In Kelly Barnes, we found one. Remember those late-night infomercials where they’d get an actor to hold up the next great kitchen knife and say, “I didn’t know what I was missing until I found the GigaKnife?” That’s the feeling we have about Kelly. We brought her on to help us on the product side of the business: manage the work, suss out what the client really wants, help us deliver a tighter, better product. We got that and so much more. Everybody loves Kelly. Internally, she’s brought energy, expertise, and genuine kindness. Sometimes she brings cookies. She even brought her dog once! Externally, she’s a client’s best friend. We swear sometimes they just call to get a dose of Kelly on a dreary Monday. We’re thrilled to have her, and with the addition of Kelly combined with the already great people we have here at Whitepenny, we’re slowly building the best branding team in the business. As always, if you know someone, we’re always hiring.

What Branding Can Do

You know what gets a branding guy or gal’s heart pumping? When a company called South Jersey Federal Credit Union asks if you’d be interested in helping them with a rebrand. It’s a dream project – a nameless, faceless, impersonal identity in front of an organization that serves members who capital-L Love the company. SJFCU got the full branding treatment from customer insights through final delivery of their new name, identity, messaging, and design system. In a few short months, SJFCU became First Harvest Credit Union: A Better Place to Grow

Doing Good is Good Business

Working with non-profits and mission-driven organizations is a big part of what we do at Whitepenny. Our stable of mission-driven client work is always full because there’s nothing in our business more satisfying than helping those that help others. They’re doing some really great things:

A leaner, meaner digital presence: Robert F. Smith’s Student Freedom Initiative wanted a fast, secure website unencumbered by “we’ve always done it this way” dogma. The organization’s brand new Headless CMS-powered website matches the impact they’re having for youth across the country.

All under one roof: NJCMO united 15 Care Management Organizations into one regional powerhouse brand.

Going wide: Hybridge expanded their ABA services to two additional states, increasing their capacity to create positive, life-changing moments that build on a learners’ talents and gifts

These organizations, along with our longtime partners JEVS, Resources for Human Development, and Catch, form the backbone of our work. They make it very easy to come to work in the morning.

The New Normal is Better in Every Way

The world moves pretty fast

2021 was the year that we all realized that every organization, no matter your product or service, is a mission-driven organization. If you don’t put DEI at the forefront of your hiring and operations decisions, if you haven’t considered your company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance standards, the world is very quickly passing you by. 

Good brands attract talent

Everywhere we turned in 2021 we heard about labor shortages, the great resignation, the “if you can’t get a job in this economy you don’t want to work” person on Twitter and the evening news. What was really going on? If your organization stands for something, if you know how to convey the right message, if you pay people what they’re worth and not the lowest amount possible, you’ll have no problem hiring top talent.

That’s a Wrap

How do you put a bow on a year like 2021? Glass half-empty? “At least it wasn’t 2020!” Glass half-full? “It was so much better than 2020!” No, the right way is probably glass full-full: despite another challenging year, we’re still here, we’re still doing something with purpose, we’re still making an impact, and we’re still thrilled to come to work with a team that cares for each other as much as we care for the work. We wish you equal fulfillment in 2022. Thanks so much for being a part of the Whitepenny family.