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"Do The Work For The Work's Sake"

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

In the years Donovan has been in existence as a branding and advertising strategy firm, we've done a lot to move the ball forward and across the endzone for clients large and small. Since founding in 2000 as Donovan Creative Communications and later repositioning our name to Strategic Communications, we have be driven to outperform all other agencies and give our clients much more than just great products: We were focused on providing record results that would help our clients grow.

Michael Donovan
Michael Donovan, CEO, Donovan, recognized for bringing international awareness to Edmonton

There was a lot of heavy thinking by a lot of people at the agency over 20 plus years on behalf of our customers; a lot of long hours, late nights and weekends away from family went into every client engagement. We felt every customer deserved our very best effort, whether they were enterprise-level or a start-up. We treated everyone the same, and like they were our only client, one step away from success or failure. With failure never an option, we strove for excellence on behalf of every client. The business outcomes for our customers spoke for themselves: increased revenues, deeper market penetration, increased market share, new investments, and more (and more loyal customers) project after project after project.

Michael Donovan
Michael Donovan speaking to business delegates from China

After all of that time 'doing the work for the work's sake', putting our best effort forward and committing totally to every project, we won many awards over the years for branding excellence, public relations, marketing effectiveness, digital innovations, interactive, copywriting, and design. Best In Show, Best In Category, at some of the most prestigious awards shows, those were the brass rings we wanted. While we always loved being recognized for the work we did, some of the most important awards to us, and to me personally, were given to us by our peers in the community, here at home. Being recognized by the broader business community for actually changing global perspectives on our hometown, Edmonton, were the most satisfying. It went beyond the success of individual companies that engaged us. We were actually able to change perceptions around our city and region from people 'out there', those who might want to invest, relocate, or move to our city and region. We relished this not because of the award itself but for what it represented: we were actually making a real difference for a wider audience, on a much bigger stage, on a global scale. People who had no idea where Edmonton was, or who thought of our city in a second-hand way, started to notice. We were changing perceptions and behaviour. The sense of pride this created cannot be described. How did this change Donovan? Well, the effect was immense. Internally with staff, it created an even greater sense of pride in working at the agency. It created even more trust with existing clients. It made investors come courting. And it created trust with more customers in the region as well as customers coming in from outside. It's always been difficult to compete with the perception that agencies from outside of the city and region, like Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, are somehow better than what comes from where we work. Working in a city of around 1 million people, people have this image that a larger centre must produce better results for customers, something we proved false time and again. These peer industry awards helped us get conversations with customers across Canada and in parts of the world who would have never dreamed to call us and work with us without this kind of recognition. Doing great work wasn't enough; we needed to punch through this perception block. And we did. It wasn't easy. But, as they say, nothing good comes easily. As I look back on my career to date, I'm most proud of these awards as proof of the quality of our work, and our worth in the eyes of influential business leaders. I will always be grateful for the opportunities these created for Donovan. It reinforced that great lesson someone gave me long ago: Just do the work for the work's sake, and good things will come. It's our philosophy now and always will be. Always do the right thing by your customer, do the work to the best of your ability, and growth and trust will come, possibly beyond your wildest expectations.

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