Elliance was born out of two confluent currents. The first was my desire to combine my two passions: my love for analytical computer science which I developed during my years at Cornell and Carnegie Mellon; and my other love for mythology, folklore, psychology, and art which I have cultivated over a lifetime. The second current was a reflection of our partnering style with our first few clients, whom we gave generously and served passionately by putting their interest before ours.
Our new name was coined by our genius advisory board member and one of my heroes, Chris Labash, who was the former creative director of Ketchum Advertising, one of the largest agencies in the world in its heyday. Chris recommended that we abandon our then generic name, “Internet Services Corporation”, and adopt a newly coined word “Elliance”, which was a short form of ‘Electronic Alliance’. To Chris the word Elliance captured my personal aspiration to combine my love for technology and humanities on the one hand and reflected the sprit with which we served our clients.
Electronic + Alliance = Electronic Alliance = Elliance
In a nutshell, with one stroke of genius, Chris had instantly transformed us from a company to a brand. The process of embodying the new brand name pretty much changed our entire DNA.
Here’s how our name change changed us.
I became a talent collector. I hired complementary talent and gave everyone a seat at the proverbial decision table. We began attracting technologists, interactive designers, user-experience architects, storytellers, branding gurus, digital marketers, PR2.0 professionals and treated them as equals. Instead of celebrating individual heroes as we had done in the past, we began celebrating teams.
The talented team members began connecting with each other at a much, much deeper level.
Our processes changed
After considerable effort, we dismantled our old waterfall process and replaced it with a highly collaborative one. Talented people started bringing their poetry to overcome client challenges. As a result, our websites became wonderfully balanced with smart strategy, amazing design, awesome user experience, wonderful storytelling, strategic search engine marketing, rock solid technology, smart analytics – all mutually reinforcing each other in a graceful dance. Interestingly, when we received awards, we noticed that we received high marks for each of the disciplines required to build a great website.
As our process evolved, some of our team members who had a tough time adapting to our collaborative culture found themselves isolated and left to find their happiness elsewhere.
Our Client relationships changed
In contrast to the hierarchical relationships of our earlier times, we began forming new partnerships with clients. These were partnerships of equals with mutual respect for each other. Clients counted on our wise counsel while we immersed ourselves in their business. We taught each other. We began to find our own voice and became comfortable expressing it. Paradoxically, we both got stronger by openly sharing our vulnerabilities.
Meetings transformed into collaborations and mutual brainstorming sessions. I’s became We’s.
Instead of simply asking us to complete projects, the Clients began to openly discuss their strategies, budgets, and desire for prosperity.
As a result, only Clients who wanted deeper, strategic relationships stayed and the rest moved on. Gradually we found ourselves engaged in fewer, deeper, and performance-focused Client relationships.
Our transformation to a brand telegraphs a smart and collaborative way of life to both prospective Clients and talented people. The forward-leaning clients seeking prosperity and performance with war chests now routinely knock on our doors. The craft-minded, collaborative, talented performers are seeking out Elliance.
The journey from a company to a brand is underway. I will share more thoughts on this transformation in the upcoming blog posts.