How the marketing industry has changed in the last half-decade.

Natalie Dean-Weymark


November 4, 2022

We’re 5 years old and our competitors in market have tripled. Here’s why that’s a good thing for us, for people and for the planet.

Compass Studio turns five this month; a whole half-a-decade old. For me, it’s hard to believe that something that started in our sunroom in Bondi, with a logo made by a mate and an ideal to do better, has evolved into something that exists beyond just Luke and me. This year, for the first time ever, we had our Brand Plan presented back to us, which to me feels completely insane – that the decisions are no longer exclusively ours to own, that our voice is no longer mine and that Compass is a shared vision. If Compass was our business baby, it’s now a fully-fledged uni student, who is out and about in the world without us, and sometimes even despite us. 

When Compass was just an idea that we canvassed with our friends and family, we were told time and time again that it was too niche – that there was no commercial viability in the ‘green’ or ‘eco’ space. And in truth, when we did our research of other agencies in the space, there was a distinct look-and-feel that spoke more to detergent brands than a service offering. It was either very clinical or very hippy; a pendulum that we felt didn’t work for most brands. In fact, apart from some very big agencies that had the global corporations in this space locked up, there were just two other boutique PR or marketing agencies in Australia that were exclusively servicing responsible brands, and at the time, they were very ‘green’...both in offering and brand colour palette. 

But we pursued regardless in the hope that if PR and marketing were the skills we could give the world, we could offer them to brands that make the world better. Over the past 5 years, I’m happy to say that we were the youngest agency ever to be B Corp certified within Australia, we have given over 200K in Compass hours to pro bono projects, partnered with 77 brands in the responsible, sustainable, environmental and ethical space, have become carbon-neutral and have increased our team of exceptionally good humans by +50% this year alone. In short, I’m glad we gave it a red hot go because this space continues to grow and the responsible-brand space is no longer a niche but practically mainstream. 

 Now, we see competitors popping up weekly; the word ‘purpose’ has become so overused that it’s almost a dirty word. The term ‘responsible’ is being used very irresponsibly, and adjectives like ‘sustainably-sourced’, ‘designed in Australia’ and ‘consciously-led’ mean almost nothing. 

We’re had other agencies lift our tagline, replicate our website copy and not so subtly borrow our brand look-and-feel. But you know what? I welcome it. I’m truly inspired by it. 

Because what we need now, in the absence of leadership from a Governmental perspective, is more businesses’ that are setting out to do good. Never before has the onus been more on companies to shape the world that we want our future generations to live in, and the more people who support the brands who do it better, the better. 

And this in turn motivates us to be better. To continuously push the bar of what is considered a ‘responsible’ agency. We marketers will always be able to make our offering look externally good, as this is what we do. But we also must ask ourselves if it feels good internally?  I was inspired by an essay by Feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who spoke late last year about the idea that in a social-media facing world, we often hold ourselves vehemently to things we said a year, 5 years ago or even a decade ago, without acknowledging how we or the world changed in that period. We have this idea that once it's out there, it can't be changed. Basically, Chimamanda was saying it’s a good idea to change your mind – which is exactly the sentiment that you can expect from Compass Studio in the years to come. Everything that has been said, will be reviewed. That which has been promised, re-scoped and that which we do now, to be exceeded.

Expect some very exciting announcements from us in terms of our carbon footprint, our social impact KPI’s, our Employee Value Proposition – and most excitingly, our North Initiative pro-bono project, which is also 5 years old this month. Our North Initiative has given over 200K worth of resources back into our community and in fact, our very first client was actually a North Initiative client, who continues to be a partner today (we love you, Seabin Foundation!) 

But we don't want to stop here, we want to continuously strive to do better. For these reasons, we’ve made a conscious decision to shake up our submissions process: to make it fairer, more transparent and more valuable to businesses who are doing good in the NFP and NGO space, than ever before. It’s something that we’ve all been working long and hard at, and we can’t wait to announce it next month. 

We must continuously evolve. We must always do better. And I challenge everything watching on the sidelines to inspire us to do so. 


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