Celebrations are profound reminders to acknowledge fruitful struggle and early victories, to express gratitude, to recognise mastery, to strengthen relationships and pave the road for future achievement. We explore the profound and playful ways companies have commemorated their milestones and distill three learnings.

The Google Doodle has an unusual inception. It was conceived in 1998, a week before Google was incorporated. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were attending the Burning Man festival and wanted to leave an out of office message, so they tweaked the Google home page logo to signal they were at the festival. And that’s how the Google Doodle was born.

The Doodle is probably the most viewed celebratory motif of popular culture — commemorating interesting events, milestones and anniversaries. It has, over the years, grown to embrace achievements in science, arts, and diverse spheres of human activity from across the world.

Google Doodle has celebrated Christmas for over 20 Years with the playful Santa Tracker

In May 2010, on the 30th anniversary of the 1980 arcade game Pac-Man, Google unveiled their first interactive logo. Visitors could play Pac-Man on the logo, which featured the letters of the word “Google” within the Pac-Man maze.

Making it Fun

When doodles were first created, very few could have foreseen how popular and integral they would become to the Google search experience. Early in Google’s history the move to alter the company’s logo was controversial, going against most corporate marketing or branding advice to keep logos consistent, but Larry and Sergey challenged convention and decided to have fun with it.

The 2010 PacMan Google Doodle celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the popular arcade game

Today, many users across the world excitedly anticipate the release of each new doodle, even collecting them like memorabilia.

With thousands of doodles created over the years, Google doodle has celebrated achievements, both Google’s own milestones, but also those of others, capturing the playful and uplifting spirit of a good milestone celebration — acknowledging worthy accomplishments, but equally important, remembering to have fun.

For companies planning a corporate anniversary event, branded merchandise isn’t the only way to celebrate your milestone anniversary. Get creative — engage and give back to the community, launch a new product or service, express gratitude to the team and share the stories of triumph and trials along the way.

Scaling Small Mountains en Route to the Summit

A summit may look different for every company — for some it might be landing a dream client, an industry-leading product launch, closing a partnership, or getting listed on the exchange. Or it might be hiring your tenth employee. Celebration is a moment to pause along the way. It doesn’t have to be grand, but it helps if the action is meaningful.

Allbirds collaborated with The Met to celebrate its 150th anniversary with limited-edition sneakers

San Fransisco-based shoe startup Allbirds celebrated their third birthday by selling a limited-edition SF Grey Wool Runner with orange laces inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge, and its sixth birthday with a limited-edition patchwork design. The brand launched a collaboration with The Met to celebrate the museum’s 150th anniversary — the designs are inspired by some of the museum’s most recognisable artwork.

In a study by Harvard Business Review, it was not stress or fear that drove achievement. Employees were more creative and productive when their inner work lives were positive — when they felt happy, and were motivated by the work itself, and had positive perceptions of their colleagues and the organisation. Progress, or its lack, are both opportunities to celebrate learnings.

Companies like Google, Intuit, Huntsman, and WL Gore actively celebrate risk-taking and failure, seeing them as stepping stones on the path to success. As company leaders, milestones are an occasion to reflect on what nourishes employee well-being, motivation, and innovation. Knowing what catalyses progress is key to effectively managing people and their work.

“Acknowledge accomplishments — big and small. Even small celebrations are a powerful psychological impetus to promote positive change and growth.”

Saying Thank You and Giving Back

During the height of the pandemic, with governments and healthcare systems overloaded, it was small and large businesses who stepped up to support employees, customers and the community helping with vaccine logistics and keeping spirits up.

Microsoft announced that they would keep paying the hourly workers who supported their campus. Adobe gave higher education and K-12 institutional customers of their Creative Cloud apps the ability to request “at-home” access for their students and educators. Starbucks extended its mental health benefits and gifted NHS staff, first responders, care workers, and transport workers a free coffee from any Starbucks store in Britain. Customers, employees and clients are drawn to brands they perceive to be a force for good.

Starbucks extended mental health benefits giving employees the opportunity to connect and listen

“Expressing gratitude and doing good as a company can help employees and partners feel more positive emotions, relish memorable experiences, improve health, deal with challenges, and build relationships that strengthen over the years.”

Starbucks’ partners with NHS Charities Together which supports NHS staff, volunteers and patients across the UK.

We’ve Come a Long Way… and We’re Getting Better

While celebrating and learning from the past is a good place to start, brands have been emphasising their commitment to the future with content related to their sustainability goals, gender parity, transparency, and company culture.

Whether sharing your company’s unique story through the lens of history, delighting customers with limited-edition product releases or honouring employees by showcasing their essential roles and innovations — it’s about inspiration, gratitude and growth. Craft a vision for your future, Celebrations provide an opportunity to reflect on those choices, how you got here, and what goals to pursue next. The best is yet to come.

Planning a company milestone celebration but don’t know where to begin?

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