At Capdesk we see every new quarter as a new chapter in our company’s journey, and our kick-off events, known as ‘Q launches’, are turning into something special. With two under our belt and number three just weeks away, we're sharing some insights on how we put them together. Our hope is that Capdesk can inspire other companies to tap into the full potential of quarterly kick-offs, which with a little imagination can be about much more than reviewing results and setting targets.
We've broken this guide down into two parts. This first instalment – which focuses on the design, concept and creativity behind our events – will be followed by a second part that covers planning, logistics and the all-important execution.
Our Q1 remote launch
Let's start with a question. Where does the creative 'spend' go in your business? Rebrands, marketing campaigns, advertising – all this is obvious, right? But it also represents a huge waste of untapped potential. The fact is, around 80% of the thought, energy and vision that's poured into your brand by creatives will more than likely never see the light of day. Worse, it will never even be seen by the majority of your team.
Think of those brilliant Mad Men boardroom moments: it's only a select group that gets to share in the goosebump-raising 'big reveals' when people suddenly see their brand in ways they could never imagine. Before joining Capdesk as Creative Lead I sat in more than a few of these kinds of meetings, and I always thought more people, more often, should share in that magic moment: watching ideas come to life.
That’s one thing we do differently at Capdesk. Having creative in-house gives us the chance to make our branding a work in progress, something we iterate, experiment and play with – all the while sharing the process across the team.
Back in August last year, our CCO Hakon approached me with the idea of doing something different with our quarterly reviews. It was clear that he was thinking a lot bigger than fancy slide decks. One of the things that clicked with me straight away was the focus on employee experience – making working at Capdesk more than ‘just a job’. Anyone who’s interviewed with us in the last 12 months has had first-hand exposure to the care, attention and respect that goes into our hiring process, which is something we’re looking to weave into every facet of working at Capdesk.
Building rewards into your employee experience takes more than saying “thanks, here's a gift voucher”. It means making sure that everyone feels supported, empowered, and inspired, so the time people are spending with you is repaid with a job that they’re excited about doing every day, in an environment they want to be in.
The first thing Hakon wanted to bake into the mix was a ‘limited edition’ concept – namely, that each of our quarterly events should be a unique experience that was never replicated. So, on to the drawing board.
As with any creative work, you need to pan for the gold. Our ideas come from Capdesk’s plans for the coming quarter, and how they can be brought to life. It may be that we're launching a new product feature, moving into a new territory, or setting up a new team. Anything can serve as the catalyst for a concept, and it all goes into the creative melting pot.
Pre-pandemic, we planned to host themed ‘super socials’ in different locations around the world. This led me to think of taking cues from the language, landmarks and visual references of each place. The destination, coupled with our idea, would give us the base for designing our theme, each with its own 'Capdesk remix' branding, colour, title, activities and one-off swag (more on that later).
Here's an example of some early concepts for these 'super socials'. If we happened to choose Ibiza for a launch, and our quarterly strategy related to bringing in larger customers, then we could make 'bigger fish' our theme. A bit of diving off the Balearic coast would top it off nicely...
Tying activities into the launches became a running theme: an Italian escapade turns into a team-building race across Rome, with custom Mini Coopers for the winners (well, models at least).
The concept for the first event, our Q4 launch, originally featured a mermaid icon, which was based on the famous Little Mermaid of Copenhagen. She was given a Capdesk twist, with a strong arm celebrating the muscle of our female team members (old and new) and linking with the fresh hires we were taking on. The Danish phrase ‘fresh as a fish’ became ‘Frisk som en Havfrue’ (‘fresh as a mermaid’), and we had the makings of our first Q launch theme!
Then lockdown hit. Only a few weeks before the event, we were suddenly faced with switching to a virtual format, which threw the whole concept up in the air.
Back to the drawing board, we zoned in on the idea of virtual events, global workforces and our new remote-first policy. We quickly reached a new theme: ‘World Class’. A celebration of not only our new global outlook, ‘World Class' can also be applied to the calibre of our growing team. We got to work making a set of personalised cards, each with an individual message from our CEO, Christian.
The finishing touch was a handmade glass trophy, which we ‘award’ to a world-class Capdesker at the end of each month, after they’ve been nominated by their colleagues. In this way, the legacy of our ‘World Class’ event extends throughout the quarter and beyond.
Once you’ve got the concept, theme and plans laid out, the real work starts – putting everything in motion to prepare for the big event. That means sourcing suppliers, designing and producing artwork, then personalising, packing and delivering your swag. The time frame? It was all due yesterday. Here's how we did it for this year’s Q1 launch:
Planning the box contents
The concept, ’New Horizons’, is a reference to our growth and expansion objectives, but also gives a sense of direction to the team as lockdown fatigue sets in. Taking feedback from the last virtual event (Too much screen time! So many presentations!) on board, and considering how we could make this one more spontaneous, our Tech Lead Guillaume took the ‘New Horizons’ compass and turned it into a spinner, randomising the day’s events and putting a new spin on the agenda, quite literally.
We also went big with the swag, sending out a personalised box of gifts to each member of the team, across six countries. Inside the box were five individually wrapped and numbered parcels designed to be opened at key moments in the launch, from branded journals and water flasks to painting kits. With Brexit-inflicted customs chaos, this was nearly a complete disaster, but in the end, all but one box reached its destination (sorry Shahzad, I.O.U. a full set of swag).
The finished product
Q-tip: Go with the flow
Planning something like this is a logistical Rubik’s cube. Be ready to change your plan at a moment’s notice, and make sure you have the time to put it into action. Start from your launch date and work backwards. You'll need to factor in production times and add wiggle room for delays and unexpected holdups. As with many things, it never hurts to have a plan B up your sleeve. The bottom line? If something can go wrong, it probably will, so make sure your event doesn't hinge on one single element.
Once the smoke clears on one Q launch, we're almost straight into planning the next! It's fast-paced, but also gives us a great chance to learn from our mistakes, iterate and carry new ideas into the next event. If all this sounds like hard work, that’s because it is! But the payoff is well worth the effort.
Check out part two, where Hakon digs deeper into logistics and reveals how our launches are planned and rolled out.