summer 2023 biannual

Identity Takes on Traverse City for its Summer 2023 Biannual

By: Andrea Trapani

Twenty-five years is a company milestone worthy of a memorable celebration, and our summer 2023 biannual was a celebration worthy of a tradition—and an agency—that continues to evolve in remarkable ways.

Identity’s biannual gatherings have been a pivotal part of our company culture. More than just routine state-of-the-agency meetings, our biannual events are highly anticipated cultural touchstones: opportunities to connect, learn, share, and refocus for the next six months.

The flexible work model we have embraced in recent years means these events have become even more important to our team, both collectively and as individuals. We truly savor these moments where we gather together—and this belief is shared agency wide. Virtually any gamelover’s list of most memorable Identity moments is sure to include a biannual highlight—or three.

In part that’s because we’ve long made a concerted effort to make biannual events fun and exciting—not just inspiring and energizing, but new and different in ways that make the whole experience more memorable and engaging. That was part of the reason why the stakes felt a little higher when it came time to plan our recent Summer 2023 biannual event: this wasn’t just another biannual, it was also an extension of our 25th anniversary celebration. 

The decision to take our entire team on a road trip to Traverse City didn’t happen in a vacuum. One of the most impactful biannuals in the past was our last pre-pandemic event in Chicago in January 2020: an off-site gathering that showed how getting away while coming together is a great way to get everyone outside their comfort zone and create unique opportunities to experience share and make memories. Each one of our gamelovers who was part of that retreat can point to a hilarious anecdote or heartfelt memory about that time in Chicago. These events resonate. They matter. And because finding ways to create, elevate, and share moments that matter is something that is so integral to what we do, it’s not just a part of the way we operate our agency and the way we serve our clients, but also a standard we hold ourselves to for these recurring company retreats.

We push ourselves to think bigger, because the most memorable experiences are the ones that leave a mark. And that’s still the case if something you can’t control means you have to call an audible or get creative in the moment. Even when unpredictable Michigan weather throws a wrench in some of our surprise plans—as it did in Traverse City!—we always know we’ll still be able to pivot and make something special happen. 

Biannuals aren’t just about culture, but also tactics and strategy: they are a chance for the entire agency to engage in and share the high-level thinking required to keep us not just at the forefront of industry trends, but ahead of the curve leading the way. Part of our agenda in Traverse City (as it is at every biannual) was a series of presentations from internal  teams we’ve had working on important initiatives and emerging trends. This year’s event featured segments clarifying and articulating our approach to critical issues like AI, outlining the ways in which our approach to the Modern PR Mix has evolved, and how we use tools and technology to support our people and clients. 

Change and growth. Evolution over time. Those things are inevitable and important—non-negotiable realities in a business that is dynamic and moves quickly. What matters is how you handle change: whether you lead and embrace it or follow and resist new ideas and new realities. Like our agency, our biannuals have evolved over time to help make sure we do the former. They are purposefully designed to not just reflect how we operate, but who we are. And because our standards for our own events are just as high as they are for our clients, our biannuals have consistently been the source of some of our best moments as an agency.

This special 25th anniversary celebration in Traverse City for our summer 2023 biannual was both a distillation and a celebration of that mindset and a fitting tribute to an agency that continues to grow, change, lead and win. .

We’ve come a very long way in the last couple of decades. We’ve evolved dramatically in the past three years. We’ve made big and bold decisions changing our agency and industry. Our influence is significant—and so is the impact we make and the recognition we’ve received for our work. Our national client portfolio is full of companies leading their respective industries and include not only successful Michigan brands, but familiar household names from across the country and around the world. While our reach is more expansive than ever, as we learned in Traverse City, in all the ways that matter, we’ve never been closer together.