Staying Curious: A Year in Pixels with Octane

Octane has always been a company of raw energy that can ultimately be shaped into anything. And as a Black woman-owned and women-led branding, identity and design company of 14 years expertise, this year highlights our company’s commitment to curiosity, innovation and empowering women in the industry. Our biggest milestones and achievements focus on publishing our first book, being nominated for multiple awards and growing our third buzz worthy business.

Our word of 2023 was “ingenuity” and Octane adapted to the changing landscape of branding identity & design in various ways. We heavily incorporated the use of AI into our monthly, weekly and daily agenda while still leaving our own unique thumbprint for our brand and for our clients.  This year’s agenda in ‘speaking our truth’ was more important than ever. Each time we got praise or feedback we shared it internally throughout and even shared screenshots publicly in stories. This was our company’s self care boost to keep striving in each interaction we make. Every step matters. 

While we love telling our clients stories, in working with clients like Kimberly Bryant we got to share the progression of supporting women of color in tech with Ascend Tech Ventures and their project the Black Innovation Lab in Memphis TN. and while they’re not a new client, first Lexington Black-owned Distillery, Fresh Bourbon had a fully updated website that launched this year.

In living up to our word of the year for 2022 we faced several challenges during our client projects. Mainly being relevant in a sea of great local and regional talent  amongst the rise of DIY marketing amongst startups and budding entrepreneurs. In our first ever published book ‘The Playbook’ we curated a gamified prompt journal for clients and workshop attendees to better break down and strategize best branding moves. 

Octane was full of involvement in community initiatives in 2023! We love that our commitment to work with marginalized communities and voices echoes the heart of Octane.  This year we worked alongside our long term clients  Kerrington’s Heart and Breakthrough Collaborative Louisville with Kentucky’s collaborative history project REcollection KY continuing to amplify and advocate unknown voices for positive impact. Within our podcast community silos we were highlighted and nominated for ‘best podcast’ by the local Blueprint Awards and internationally by Digital Women Awards.

What surprised us this year was the increased take off of our Kentucky Creatives membership group. This group of statewide creatives grew to over 265 members while our paid membership increased by more than 50% in the first official year as a business. We’ve completed over 8 major paid business collaborations with small and midsize businesses across Kentucky providing professional opportunities for creatives in our own backyard to thrive.

In 2023 we curated more ways for being inclusive in our own digital work environment. Staff mornings included morning trivia, community wins and staff meeting giveaways so that everyone felt included and heard wherever they were based. We offer online courses for each person to take advantage of throughout the year. We were especially excited to be nominated Digital Women in the UK for creative entrepreneurship.

We faced a lot more challenges in being relevant to ‘mass audiences’ but this also reminded us that we’re not for everybody. In fact, we can’t be for everybody. This challenged us to focus on redefining our own customer avatar and making sure we speak directly to our people. This led to business growth by establishing deeper customer relationships and building our brand authority. 

New tools like ChatGTP help us sort ideas faster. SwellAI helped us expedite our podcast and videography deliverables while our production management system Asana has helped improve client communication by more than 87%. We’re no strangers to using technology but we strive to find the right technological tools to help automate our time and our energy to keep working on our passions.

We’ve come so far from where we started as a humble pregnant 1 woman show in a 500 sqft apartment with a toddler at her hip. We’ve gone from the wobbly kitchen table to firm executive tables knowing that the same unseen fiery energy that began this journey continues to populate into every project we touch.

Throughout our accomplishments and challenges this year our commitment to curiosity, innovation and social responsibility remains strong. We personally express our gratitude to our clients and staff for their contributions to a successful year. We look forward to what lies ahead in 2024.

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Creative, multi-business owner, published author, wife and mom of 3. Book Danielle to speak at www.daniellemeadowsstinnett.com.

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