Bombastic: What almost was

To mark the five year anniversary of TORQUE Strategies, Managing Director Bart Given reflects on lessons learned and what almost was…

Five years.

In December of 2013, Andrea, Bill and I made the bold decision to launch a sister agency to TTG Partnerships. After nearly two years of careful consideration and dialogue with our team, we knew both we, and the marketplace, were ready to launch an agency whose sole focus was partnership consultation. We made the next bold decision to launch on the four-year anniversary of the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Games, which was/is the genesis of our existence.

This left us roughly six weeks to launch. No problem.

We had inspiration, we had a business plan, we had a team, but we didn’t have a name. We DID have a code name (don’t all great projects?) – Bombastic. Frankly, the Shaggy impersonations in our office (mostly coming from my desk) had me thinking we should just roll with it. But ultimately we opted to lean on David Martin of Hyphen Communications to support with the development of a grown-up name.

Together we looked through dozens of names, ultimately getting to a short-list of Ampersand and TORQUE. Two very distinct names, both worked – but we landed on TORQUE because of its literal definition. The concept of “applying force to cause rotation” resonated with our entire team. The definition of torque – became the definition of TORQUE.

We develop a solution for each client task that is precisely measured, ultimately resulting in movement. Sometimes the force is significant, at times the movement is a gentle nudge – sometimes it’s both…regardless this “definition” guides our team to constantly develop a unique client solution while harnessing the appropriate force.

The approach works. TORQUE has been fortunate to apply our force on behalf of so many incredible clients and sectors: retailers, professional & amateur sport, charities, telcos, banks, major bids, advocacy groups, festivals, music, arts, airports, cities, attractions, resource sector etc. etc.

Now, if I end this origin story right here, you’ll likely take away that the plan we hatched in December 2013 has been a great success – that we nailed the launch and the business plan. Well, kinda.

We missed recognizing the power of a market force that has rotated our model significantly.

In the opening I referred to our services as “partnership consultation”. We do that – I like to think we do that very well – but it doesn’t stop there, and honestly it doesn’t always begin there anymore.

Brands come to TORQUE to help them drive engagement. We are an Engagement Agency. When I first said this out loud, it sounded a bit clunky. I wasn’t even sure the term existed. (I’ve now seen it online, so I can’t take credit/blame for it.)

But, the more I say it, the more I believe it – our deliverable to clients is engagement. Often it’s consumers, sometimes employees, voters or members. The tools can include digital, social, experiential, influencer, narrative development, research, rebranding, events, campaigns and strategic partnerships.

So when I look back at our original plan, I now see I failed to recognize how impactful the “human revolution” would be. Humans are more sceptical than ever, often putting up barriers to brand engagement. To break those barriers down, brands need relevancy, authenticity and emotion. Once engaged, brands can keep the barrier down by following the same plan – by leading with relevancy, authenticity and emotion.

Over the past five years, that’s what I’ve learned TORQUE does.

Just in case you want a few more “Things Bart Learned”…

1. You are the company you keep.

  • Applies to brand and humans, the partnerships and relationships you forge define who you are.

2. No one has ever taken a selfie with a rink board.

  • Rink boards, sideline signs etc. do not deliver engagement. Don’t discount their ability to deliver targeted impressions, but discount their ability to deliver advocacy.

3. Listen. Collaborate.

  • TORQUE doesn’t have the marketplace on great ideas. Sometimes your client is sitting on the solution: help them get off the pot.
  • TORQUE isn’t a full-service agency. (Is anyone truly?) We will seek out partnership and share attribution with agencies who can deliver a better solution for the client.

4. Great stories aren’t merely told, they are shared.

  • Sharing in a great story makes it an infinitely more powerful experience. (Science backs me up on this one.)

5. Bombastic is a cool agency name.

  • Not going to give up on this battle.