Digital marketing and UX agency, Sandstorm Design is honored to be named one of the Top Interactive Agencies of 2013 by BtoB Magazine. Receiving this recognition for the third year in a row, Sandstorm is continuing to grow by nurturing talent and building creative solutions and intuitive user experiences for new and existing clients.
BtoB’s Top Agencies List is a comprehensive compilation of the top 150 agencies in the United States. BtoB Magazine’s Kate Maddox said, “Many of the top b-to-b agencies registered double-digit growth last year though new clients and organic growth.” Sandstorm is poised to continue the momentum built in 2012 by partnering with clients such as CIC Plus, MathWorks, and CareerBuilder for a successful 2013.
BtoB Magazine is a Crain’s Communications Inc. publication and is a trusted source and platform for top marketing professionals to grow and learn in the b-to-b space.
After months of collaboration, health care education, Medicare explanation, web application development, voice over talent selection and a bit of instructional design, we are proud to announce the launch of Ask Blue Medicare, an interactive health care web application to help users understand Medicare health care coverage options from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. After going through the application, I feel confident I can help my parents through the Medicare process and explain the difference between A, B, D, gap and advantage. If you can’t, and you know someone who is around 65 years old, you should send them to check it out. (There’s closed captioning as well as the ability to increase the type, too.)
Back in January we had the good fortune of being featured in the Chicago Tribune about our forecast for growth. The article talked about “good omens” and somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking that if this goes to print (which it did) then we have to have a good year because I publicly made the claim (or the prediction).
What I am most thrilled about is that so many companies are hiring this year – big and small agencies, corporations, associations, etc. This is good for the marketing and advertising industry, and even better for the Chicago people, for my friends, and my family. When companies hire, we all win – and putting together a job offer is my most favorite thing to do. In the interactive space, there is so much going on right now that when we call Creative Circle for some help, the position we are looking to fill is always in “high demand.” So what are we looking for? Great interactive account managers, web developers, UX designers, and we’re still on the lookout for that right marketing copywriter. Write us an interesting email and send us your best work (via URL please, no attachments), and we’d love to hear from you.
Starting bright and early at 7am this morning, the metal studs were cut to unite our two spaces. When I first called the office, Zak answered the phone “It’s a loud day here at Sandstorm” which made me laugh “out loud”. If you call Sandstorm enough and are fortunate to get him to answer, he’s always got a witty and generally funny phrase for the day. I could tell in the background that the noise was annoying pretty much everyone, so to thank them all for their patience and tolerance through the noise today, I took the Sandstorm team out to Jury’s for lunch. Yum!
Now it’s nearly 4pm and our construction crew is gone. We finally have some peace and quiet to do our interactive and marketing magic, and the huge draping plastic wrap is a unique creative inspiration. It’s actually so eerily quiet in here that it feels a lot like a serious corporate environment… I can actually hear the hum of my laptop and the slight clatter of a few keyboards.
Our new neighboring space was painted today (whoo hoo!), and has such a creative, fun, lofty yet still marketing and interactive agency look to it. The old walls were gray and electric blue, which was interesting, but didn’t have our more signature sandstorm look. Plus the gray made me sad, so I just love the new shade of blond that replaced it.
In addition, we are introducing “the fishbowl”. It’s one of two new huddle rooms with tons of glass windows, with interior walls painted blue, so it kind of feels like you are in a fishbowl when you are working in it. It’s going to be great to reduce the sound of the trains on conference calls, and is a great brainstorming room. Jon is donating some old floor lamps for ambiance. Thanks Jon!
And I can’t forget our newest lunchroom. Ah… no more having to clean up the conference room or usability lab last minute because a group decided to grab lunch together, and leave random things behind. Now we have a large, bright space that will probably always have hot sauce packets on the table or tables – we haven’t decided if we want a few smaller tables or one big one.
So right before Christmas we’re going to get just the greatest gift… A new and improved, much larger space for 2010! Thank you to my fabulous and dedicated staff and to our clients for making this possible as we continue to grow as one of Chicago’s emerging boutique interactive agencies. :)
The new huddle rooms sure went up fast! It took only 2 days and we were able to walk in and experience the basic layout of our new space. Very cool! We are all anxiously awaiting our two new brainstorming rooms so we can hold internal meetings, conference calls, and additional research work (for when we are doubled up on our usability lab). They will also be a great place to get some quiet time when the crew gets a bit rowdy – usually near the end of the day. And it’s been said that Sandstorm is one place is the morning, and a totally different place after 4pm :)
We’re also getting tons of new space for new workstations, and will have the room we need for growth in 2010.
Here at Sandstorm, we take being creative and interactive pretty seriously. Even our holiday party is interactive and ultra creative, but I don’t mean the technically-savvy, online kind of interactive. We share tapas for hours, play “dirty santa” and have developed our own traditions…
All staff and significant others are invited to a tapas feast at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba (open bar, open table of unlimited tapas – this year we had 8 plates of bacon wrapped dates . We get our own room now because we kind of need it so we don’t bother the other patrons). Anyone who wants to play buys a gift and wraps it up all fancy. My gift wrapping ability is poor, so I blamed it on my 3 year old son.
Anyway, gifts are piled on a table while we sip sangria, scope out the size/shape/wrapping of the gifts, and prepare to draw numbers to see who gets to go first. Number 1 goes first, and gets to select any gift from the table. He/she opens it, and then the second person gets to either steal #1′s gift, or make a new selection. This process of swapping and unwrapping goes until all the gifts are open. Then #1 gets to see everything and get the gift of their choice. Holly has some how been #1 two years in a row… hmm.
Somehow along the way we all manage to eat hundreds of tapas, and still have room for desert. Due to everyone’s schedules, we have our holiday party on a Sunday night. So we give everyone the day off that Monday. Yep, a free Monday during the holiday shopping season. This year we had it over Thanksgiving so everyone got 5 day weekends. And we might just add that to the tradition next year.
The coolest part about being a small company is that we can build traditions, and we learn each year how to make them even better. Happy Holidays everyone! And to my staff, thank you for an incredible and memorable holiday party 2009!
Today they started the demo in the space next door that we are taking over! They are doing a really great job as it’s not too loud nor disruptive. Thanks Hugh and Joe Hayes! We’ve decided to add a larger lunchroom and kitchen area, along with two huddle rooms for brainstorming, conference calls, quiet meetings, private phone calls and some more work space as we continue to grow – all to enhance our user’s experience (which in this case, our users are our staff).
It’s a really fun and exciting time here at Sandstorm as we continue to grow with our user centered design methodology, creative facebook applications, and strategic interactive tools. We are all looking forward to a busy and exciting 2010.