Upstream 360 And The Elephant In The Room

I started my adventure as the Innovation Director at Upstream 360 just over eight months ago and it has been quite a ride.  Partnering with companies, brands, and teams around the world to invent ideas, craft concepts, strategize social media, create copy, and so much more… it has been a whirlwind of strategy, creativity, and agility.  And it has been a blast!

What is interesting, however, is how challenging it has been for me to provide an “elevator pitch” answer to the question, “What does Upstream 360 do?”  It is not that I don’t know the answer… it is that the breadth and depth of the types of work we do make it challenging to provide a concise, pithy, and holistic answer.

See… that last paragraph wasn’t even pithy!

Okay, let me try a parable.  Remember that famous one from India about the Blind Men and the Elephant? Six blind men all chance upon an elephant, and they all end up with a remarkably different take on what they have encountered.  One guy runs into the elephant’s side and experiences a wall.  Another feels the sharp tusk and imagines a spear.  The trunk moves like a snake, the leg stands proudly as a tree, the ear sways softly as a fan, and the tail hangs down as a rope.  All of these represent a part of the experience and are not exactly wrong… but they don’t portray the big picture.

Similarly, as we work with our wide range of clients, we see a diverse range of perceptions.  Some only know us as the innovation experts and “idea people” since we have helped them to discover breakthrough new concepts and product demos.  Others only know us for our design chops, because our 2D and 3D illustrators have brought their product’s magic to life visually.  To some we are only their “production company”, as our directors and production teams produce commercials for broadcast and content for digital in our studio.  Still, others think of us as their  “advertising agency”, developing and executing social media strategy and management.  To another large group, we are a “research firm” as our scientists and engineers study new products, how they work, and what consumers perceive.  None of these notions are wrong, and we are proud of each of these aspects.  They simply don’t quite bring the whole elephant into the room.

This week we have re-launched our Upstream 360 website, and in doing so we are sharing for the first time our complete vision of all that we do here.  Certainly, there is a lot of diversity in our work and we don’t want to lose that.  But we also want to make sure that we portray the big picture and what we stand for along with our key points of difference.  We focus a lot on the “6 Word Story” here… so what are the six words that best describe Upstream 360?

We are proud to present (drum roll, please…) “Ideation to Creation.  All Under One Roof”.  7 words, but we always go above and beyond here!  We believe this encapsulates the creativity, agility, tangibility, and stream-lined nature of our work.  For those that have worked with us in the past, are currently partnering with us, or might walk through these doors in the future, we invite you to check out our homepage, watch our introductory video, and explore our case studies.   Be sure to let us know if you can see the sum of the elephant, as well as its parts!

Mike Thomas is Upstream 360’s Director of Innovation and has a memory like an elephant. He remembers every elephant he’s ever met.  He also authored the unforgettable book, Agents of Change: Unleashing the Innovation of Real-Life Superheroes, available in, paperback and eBook.