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Turning 30, aging willfully

Change is in our blood. Being part of change, responding to it, surviving it.

In the beginning

We turn 30 this year. Across three decades, we’ve thrived as markets have shifted, expanded and, in some cases, vanished. We’ve seen audiences grow more savvy (and increasingly demanding and fickle). We’ve refined our services as new platforms and technologies emerged. Yep, impermanence is us.

Our secret? Be flexible and nimble, able to pivot swiftly to meet customer and market demands. Our pivot point? Excellence. The pursuit of it may be the one thing that has never changed about Stiff.

On a rainy Halifax day in December 1988, our chairman, Brian Hanington incorporated Stiff Sentences: a company of writers. The company of writers, in fact. Our name—long a source of fascination—was a product of the eighties’ trend toward pun-based monikers. It was a play on the phrase associated with long jail terms, as well as a nod to the fabric of language and logic (or illogic) of grammar. Viewed through our proprietary naming methodology, it fell into the second of six categories: evocative names, ones that were hard to forget. And it worked.

We were the source of the written word in films, broadcast and print advertising, speeches, print publications and multi-media productions (remember them?). Since then, we've served clients on four continents, delivering exceptional writing in every promotional genre. We learned what it takes to bring audiences to their feet—and their wallets or conscience.

More than sentences

We were already our clients’ trusted communications advisors. Humbly, we knew that mastering the English language was challenge enough for any company and appreciated its critical importance in communicating a brand. Yet we regularly proposed improvements to graphic designs. We named businesses and products. We created riveting approaches to anchor ad campaigns. We led the strategic development behind major annual reports. We pinpointed key messages for ministerial speeches. We provided direction so precise, video producers had only to follow the script. The only thing left to take on the full mantle of a strategic communications agency was to call ourselves one—and bring more amazing talent on board.

So we shifted again, dropped a word to reflect that we’re not just about sentences and started a whole new chapter as Stiff. On one hand we’ve retained the irony of our founding name, as our work is the opposite of rigid or difficult. On the other, we’re proud of the name’s association to the power and strength of the consultation, creative and content we produce.

The right Stiff

Today, we strive for excellence as a tightknit but fast-growing team of strategists, writers, digital developers and design specialists that nurtures, protects and promotes corporate identities. We help clients manage their change challenges—even if the message is that they haven’t changed as the world morphs around them.

And us? We won’t predict what the future of communications will bring—other than the fact that we’re confident we’ll be a part of it, still striving to produce excellent work, still striving to help our clients reach their own versions of excellence, still striving to be the right Stiff.

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