Hwange National Park. Photo by Nicholas Blatch

2017: A year in review

It’s both useful and necessary at the end of a year to take a moment to reflect, review and plan ahead. It’s been a big year for CODE, with a number of exciting projects and collaborations that we worked on. Internally too, we made some tactical adjustments as part of a new strategic trajectory for the firm.

The new direction and vision for the business can be traced back to a trip I had in Zimbabwe in April. It came at a time when I knew the company needed “something”, though at that stage it wasn’t clear exactly what that was.

Going home to Zimbabwe is always both a humbling and magical experience – a homecoming, so to speak. It happened to be at a time when the bush was really showing off… a thicket of lush green vegetation welcomed us, there was so much water, and the animals were visibly happy!

It was an inspiring time for me and I came back renewed and recharged. Going back home is the number one grounding experience… ask any Zimbabwean.

The time away had helped me to understand that CODE needed a brand overhaul, because what we really needed was to market ourselves.

Calling the creatives 

And so for the first time since starting the company we allocated the necessary resources to our marketing. We found a number of partners to collaborate with us on this and so the process was set in motion.

First and foremost, it was very inspiring to deal with creatives on this level. I’m used to always being the “creative” on a project so it was really rewarding to see how other creatives work, and to take the necessary step back to allow them to do what they do best.

Rebranding was an explorative, very dynamic, process. There was a lot of learning for the team at CODE and it was productive to also develop aspects of that particular skillset as it has such relevance to our own work as we often work with strong brands in enhancing their aesthetics.

This website is the result of that process, as is the new logo which we wrote about here.

To the power of the brand 

If there’s one thing I learned in 2017 then it’s that every day of owning a company is a new challenge. But that learning is part of the fun. And part of the fun is All The Learning!

Overall, I am grateful to close our doors this year with a great sense of achievement in myself and the company. We experienced rapid, short-term growth and I now understand that this is the power of loving, owning and nurturing your brand. Because we took the time to rediscover and learn what it is about the brand that keeps us going. Working so intensely on rebranding encouraged me to think and further understand the essence of the business and what it is we stand for.

The power of perseverance must be acknowledged too. One has to take yourself out of your comfort zone in order to push boundaries and discover new possibilities. This is particularly important in terms of design and being a creative in the business world.

The political is personal 

Secondly, but perhaps the most importantly, was the political changes we witnessed in Zimbabwe this year. The peaceful political change that happened in my home country this year was enormously inspiring. It ignited the hope for a positive future for so many of us – not just Zimbabweans but for people across the African continent.

No doubt the country has a long way to go in rebuilding itself but the future looks bright and that is something to be both positive and hopeful about.

May we end by extending our gratitude and love to everyone that played a role in CODE’s success this year – our clients, suppliers, collaborators, friends and family… here’s to you and to a most prosperous 2018. 

Nicholas Blatch self portrait