So what is "Fusionfarm" anyway? Whenever I wear one of my new shirts with the super-cool logo on it, this question comes up frequently. (As a side note, my closet is ever expanding with "logo-wear" as it’s faster to get ready in the morning throwing on a golf shirt than trying to remember how to tie a double Windsor without looking like Tommy Boy).
The answer to the question can be a lengthy one, but the concise version is: It’s an evolution.
That’s an answer? Well, sort of. Here’s the longer version:
Before we had the name, we knew that our local media company, Iowa Source Media Group, had some things to fix. One of those things - which seems absurd now - was the fact that the broadcast creative team was on a different floor and different building than the print creative team. Yet, they often worked on the same ad campaigns for the same clients. Lack of interaction (putting it mildly) led to considerably different creative designs for the same campaign -- often to the point of not looking like the same sale, event, product launch or new location announcement.
Given all other synergies we were developing elsewhere, it seemed like a good idea to create synergy with our creative teams. We decided to jam everyone together on the same floor in the same building, carved out an organizational order and asked them to come up with an identity. This creative bunch came up with Fusionfarm.
The early synergies were great (once everyone got to know each other’s names). Improved work flows, collaboration and many other small wins came together. We began doing a more focused effort in the traditional area of brand consulting. We had individual talents in this area, but it wasn't a consistent focus in the marketplace. Once we got a few of these projects under our belt things started progressing.
At the same time, Tim McDougall and I were pushed to come up with new services our company could deliver that:
- Were emerging and digital
- Weren't tied to the news/advertising model
So, geniuses that we are, McDougall and I sat around drinking our Diet Dr. Peppers in his swanky office trying to figure it out one day and had a thought: We didn't need to create another brand or corporate entity (trust me, we've got plenty). We could utilize Fusionfarm!
For a variety of reasons, it made sense:
- Fusionfarm was already populated with the most creative employees. Why not build around that?
- We needed a creative environment to foster a culture of continuous innovation, which was one of our directives for developing new products.
- At the same time, we had to support our legacy products -- print and broadcast -- while developing additional products that may or may not stand on their own. Fusionfarm was already supporting the legacy brands, but was also doing what amounted to freelance work independent of whether a business was advertising with us. So, we decided why not put fuel on that fire and amp up the capabilities?
(By the way, I highly recommend you read McDougall’s guest blog post where he gives a much more eloquent description of all this. He’s the smart one. I keep my job because when people pick on me, I just laugh and make everyone feel better about themselves.)
Nearly overnight we went from being a creative agency to an ideas and innovation company. We didn't rethink the brand, we simply extended it.
We then started to surround our creative folks with the necessary teammates to equip the group properly to start its mission. We added digital product managers. We added social media expertise. We added some business perspective. We added process design and improvement expertise. We added a sales component. We even moved our web development and IT expertise much, MUCH closer to the action.
All of this led to something really, really cool: A new culture.
No one could be a slave to history or the "how we've always done it" mentality because, hell, we were inventing it. We didn't hamstring the team with a crap-ton of rules and regulation. Make it up. If it works, great. If it doesn't, change it. How hard is that?
The reality is that less than a year into this we've done large creative projects and small ones. We've rolled out a dozen either brand new products or significant enhancements to legacy digital products that make them more viable in the marketplace. Hell, we've won some awards!
And the coolest part is we keep rolling. We have a ton of additional stuff on the table for 2013 which will not only further set us apart locally, but could be a model for media companies nationally.