…and other stories from 30 years in business

By George Foster, CEO of Foster Marketing Communications

It was 30 years ago this month that my wife and I and a part-time artist opened the doors of The Foster Agency in a small, 100-square-foot office in downtown Lafayette, La. We had one client, really a project, for John E. Chance & Associates. We developed their first ever corporate brochure.

Spin forward to today, and we’re still working with Fugro Chance and its parent company, the multibillion-dollar Dutch company Fugro. The years have gone by quickly since those early years as The Foster Agency. I’ll never forget my first Ad Club meeting in Lafayette when the President of the Club announced that I had started an ad agency. He asked me what the name of my new company was, and I said “The Foster Agency,” to which he replied satirically, “That’s creative.”

A unique name not-withstanding (now we are experts in developing unique names for products and companies), the name Foster has served us well. Just think of all the things we “foster” — pride, camaraderie, good will, creativity, marketing strategy, etc.

However, the name The Foster Agency provided some unique problems for us. For example, one day I came into the office to a blinking light on my voice mail messaging machine. A sobbing female voice had left me the direst of messages: “Will you please take my child?” she said, “I can’t take care of her anymore.” It was one of the many calls we received from people who thought that The Foster Agency was the home for foster care placement. We received so many calls to this effect that we had the number for foster care posted next to our phone.

At 15 years, a new name and a new office location

By 1995, we had moved into a new office home, and I felt we needed to update our brand to better reflect what we were doing at the time. We needed to change our name because we no longer were doing just typical ad agency things such as developing brochures and ads, but more strategic marketing communications such as branding, public relations and newfangled Internet marketing.

Thus, we changed our name to Foster Marketing Communications. It was nice, as this was the beginning of the dot-com age, and so our website URL was www.fostermarketing.com. Our overall logo look remained the same, but the type was changed to reflect the name change.

This gradual change of a corporate name to reflect the scope of a business was brought home to me recently in an article on the evolution of the branding for Federal Express.

As we’ve said many times, developing a name for a company or product is an aural, or hearing, exercise. A name is said; a logo is read. Thus, it was a natural evolution for the name Federal Express to be shortened to FedEx. We see (or hear) it all the time, even at Foster Marketing (where’s the word “Communications”?). Names are shortened for convenience – AT&T, GM, etc.

The next iteration for FedEx was the acquisition of Kinko’s in 2004, and the brand name became FedEx Kinko’s. It took three years, until June 2008, for FedEx Kinko’s to become FedEx Office, and there are still some stores and branding displaying FedEx Kinko’s.

Change comes slowly when well-known brands are involved.

The future of Foster Marketing Communications

Now at 30 years, where is Foster Marketing Communications headed?

Well, first we’ve named a new President, Tiffany Harris. Tiffany was there at our 15th anniversary, fresh out of the University of Louisiana with lots of energy and enthusiasm.

She has grown from an Account Assistant to Executive Vice President, well-thought of by both clients and employees alike. And, she’s helped Foster Marketing grow to become the largest oil and gas marketing communications firm in the world. The future of Foster Marketing is bright with Tiffany at the helm.

I’ll remain as CEO, or Chief Exposure Officer, and help us build our brand in the oil and gas and other energy-related fields. Building your brand in these days of Internet marketing is even more important with the need to increase your online presence.

Second, we want to remember our roots … what got us here in the first place – hard work, persistence, honesty, valuing our professionals, superior client service and, yes, top-notch creativity. It is a common fact that many B2B marketers stay the path of the traditional and in-the-box techniques. To create a competitive edge to your business marketing, you need to add some creative thinking and opportunities to attract and engage prospects and customers.

Third, the best way to do that is to call Foster Marketing.