Every marriage begins with the engagement. The engagement for “The Bartel Years(TM)” began in 2006 at a Bartel Communications’ staff meeting. One agenda item was how to celebrate the firm’s 10th business anniversary the following year. We decided that a community service project would be ideal for both thanking the community for its support over the years and for generating publicity for Bartel Communications.

“We need a theme around which to build a campaign,” I said. “Something to both celebrate the anniversary and symbolize the anniversary year.” I asked my interns to research the only anniversary list I knew: the symbols traditionally associated with wedding anniversaries.

Their research turned up a number of such lists but no consensus about the 10th wedding anniversary symbol (e.g., Tin, Aluminum, Clocks, etc.). We chose to use Tin/Aluminum as our symbol and made plans for a canned food drive to benefit the three food pantries in Waterford, NY, the village in which Bartel Communications is based.

As we planned our campaign, I kept thinking about the wedding anniversary lists. While all of them had symbols for the milestone anniversaries (i.e., those ending in 0 or 5), none had symbols for many of the in-between anniversaries. Additionally, all of the lists ended with the 75th anniversary. I wondered if a comparable list of symbols existed for business anniversaries. If one did exist and if the symbol of the 10th business anniversary was something other than Tin/Aluminum, I’d be embarrassed. (I imagined the ribbing: “You dummy! Everyone knows the 10th business anniversary symbol is Cobalt.”)

I asked my interns to dig deeper, but further research turned up no equivalent list.

My marketing and public relations background told me that business milestones such as anniversaries can be used to generate publicity. I also realized that companies would benefit by having a roster of business anniversary symbols to inspire annual promotional campaigns.

I shared these thoughts in a staff meeting. “Some bright, creative person should put together a list of anniversary symbols just for businesses,” I said.

“You’re bright and creative,” one of my interns replied. “You should do it.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

Soon after, “The Bartel Years(TM)” were born.

Blogger  Bio: Pauline Bartel, M.A., is President and Chief Creative Officer of
Bartel Communications, Inc., an award-winning corporate communications firm,
specializing in marketing, public relations and business anniversary consulting
services. The firm  created “The Bartel Years™” and “The Bartel Years 200™,” rosters of business  anniversary symbols to inspire two centuries of business anniversary
“sell”-abrations. Download free copies of “The Bartel Years™” and the special
report “The Top 10 Business Anniversary Ideas for SELL-abrating Your Business
Anniversary” at www.paulinebartel.com.