The North Difference

Content, Customization, and Culture

The North Difference – Content, Customization, and Culture

780 330 Victoria Freeman

By Mia Pearson

Don’t neglect the coconuts

During a recent holiday, I was fortunate to spend some time at a beautiful tropical resort surrounded by sun, beach, and family. On our last night at the resort, I was handed a delicious island cocktail in a coconut which, incredibly, featured the resort’s logo branded right into its side. It was one of those tiny touches, those everyday examples of the staff paying close attention to even the smallest possible detail that helped make the trip so memorable and unforgettable.

As I look ahead to what’s on the horizon for North Strategic, I’m constantly reminded of those coconuts.

At North, we’ve always believed the details matter. That kind of thinking is what helps us consistently become our clients’ MVA (that’s “Most Valuable Agency”), and has enabled us to become Canada’s fastest growing communications agency in less than six years.

In 2016, our company enjoyed a banner year. Our team at North added exciting new brands to its roster of clients; we launched our new Nfluence service focused on cultivating lasting relationships with Canada’s top social influencers; and our video production company, Notch Video, continued to break new ground for clients across Canada with exciting content and innovative production strategies.

And to top it all off, we joined the Publicis Groupe’s global network of companies.

As we look to the future, our company is focused on three key areas, which we believe are driving the industry:


It is becoming increasingly clear that great content is the single greatest differentiator in our industry. Companies that have the ability to tell compelling stories using interesting content, produced on demand, in a cost effective way, are blazing a new trail in our industry.

North is home to the new PR. We are all about grabbing headlines and generating buzz for our clients by making sure we weave creative thinking and innovative narrative ideation into everything we do. We take our clients’ key messages, mix in creativity, and add some good old fashioned editorial experience in order to develop stories people actually want to share.

More and more, we’re hearing from clients that they want content that stands out and gets noticed, that can be produced quickly, and doesn’t require a six month planning process (or the budget that comes with that kind of timeline).

We identified this trend early, and that’s why we created Notch Video in 2013. Notch (which made the amazing video above) specializes in content marketing and video storytelling for brands looking to roll out digital campaigns across their channels. Our combination of in-house talent, and our ability to tap into Notch’s network of more than 800 creators across Canada, enables us to create content quickly, act nimbly, and save travel costs by using local talent already on the ground.


The world’s best brands never settle for ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions, and that’s just one of the many reasons behind our decision to create Nfluence, our internal influencer team that has connected brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Samsung Canada, Tim Hortons, TD Canada Trust, Ciroc and many others to the influencers who matter most in Canada.

The era of the influencer is not on the horizon. It is here now. Influencers deliver the kind of credible, peer-to-peer connections brands crave. Just like with media, the best relationships with influencers happen when there is mutual trust and authentic connections. It’s about connecting the right people with the right brands, while understanding the nuances and particulars of an influencer’s audience to ensure the best connections. Again, success is in the details.

As social influencers become one of the top sources of marketing persuasion in the digital world, we believe the most strategic and successful relationships continue and grow over an extended period of time. Our approach is to look at the client’s overall business and identify opportunities that extend across multiple brands, banners and owned channels.

Whether it’s unique solutions for influencer relations or custom video and editorial content, customization is the new normal for communications.


Of course, to create a truly great and unique agency, it’s not enough to focus on service offerings and great clients, you need to have a talented team that is driven, passionate, and dedicated to creating great stories with a shared goal.

You can create truly creative offerings that are the envy of the industry, but if you don’t have the culture to retain the best talent, sooner or later your agency will suffer. The competition for top talent is fiercer than ever, which means great companies not only need to source the right people, they need to be able to keep them in house.

At North, we are proud to have established our agency as one of Canada’s Best Place to Work, having won the Top 100 Employers award for companies with under 100 employees in 2015. We have a voluntary turnover rate of just 3%.

What’s more, I can feel the power of our culture when I walk through our offices. When I see our teams brainstorming new ideas for a client, or when I see groups of employees getting together for lunch, or kicking back together and bonding at our legendary team off-sites, it’s evident they relish being a part of what we’ve created.

We invest heavily in our recruitment process to ensure we are bringing people onto our team who are not only a great organizational fit, but who also truly reflect our company’s culture.

We’re proud of what we’ve created here at North, and look forward to what’s next.

Rest assured, we’re just getting started.



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