Ahoy, passengers! For the third year in a row, the Tight Ship co-captains have scurried up the mainmast and peeked out at the horizon to see what we could see. That’s right, the annual New Orleans Tight Ship Summit has run its course once again! 

Now that we’ve had a chance to get our sea legs back, it’s time for a full report—not just on this year’s summit, but on all three—because our voyage has reached a pivotal stage as 2019 winds down. Our annual summits are critical strategic planks of Tight Ship’s existence. As a virtual partnership physically separated by about two thousand miles, we knew we’d have to bake in some serious in-person, face-to-face time (on top of regular calls or chats) in order for the Ship to sail smoothly. 

That usually means less regular-business items (which can be covered individually or online) and more big-picture goals (what to work on and who to work with?). We try to take advantage of our time together as much as possible, roping together strategy sessions with industry conferences or speaking gigs or volunteer opportunities—or all of the above and then some. Each summit has been unique, and uniquely successful! Here’s what that looked like, year by year:

Tight Ship 2017 Summit

2017: Making a Splash

The first Tight Ship Summit took place just weeks after we launched the business, coinciding with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in late March 2017. Our main goal was raising Tight Ship’s profile with our fellow entrepreneurs in Julia’s home city, during a conference at which she co-presented email marketing & design strategy with Lianna Patch of Punchline Copy.

The startup community was also one of our initial target audiences in a B2B sense. Not all would be event-related organizations, but they’d still need design & branding work, so we introduced ourselves (with fancy new letterpress business cards) as experienced pros willing to swoop in and save the day when needed. Another goal was to amplify our bonafides as event branding authorities, so we highlighted NOEW in our Ship’s Log as one example of event experience branding done right.

We rounded out the summit with a callback to our first shared project, an updated version of NOLA DNA’s New Orleans Print History Tour done especially for us and a few other lucky friends. After several other stops around the city for Keir’s first visit, and some final partnership paperwork over beignets, the Summit was finished. Our ship set sail, and we netted our first income within a month!

Tight Ship Summit 2018

2018: Leveling Up 

Our second Summit lined up with The Special Event, an annual conference of education and exhibits for event planners and professionals of all stripes. These folks—planners, entrepreneurs, vendors, performers, and more—were another core audience we’d been cultivating since Bizbash 2017, and our goal at TSE was to refine our pitches to best suit their brands’ needs. 

We spent our first full Summit day together getting to know our peers by volunteering with Event Pros Take Action. EPTA put us to work in St. Bernard Parish, mudding and sanding to help rebuild a hurricane-damaged home. The next day, we tossed off a few Mardi Gras survival tips for our fellow attendees, then hit the trade show floor for some traditional networking. We came equipped with special Valentines for Event Pros, which became a conference-wide hit!

That instant gratification was certainly welcome, but for our long-term 2018 strategy to work well, we knew we’d need to wrap our pitches in a powerful package. We booked a photo shoot across town with rock star photographer Tomas Raul, and he helped us look as cool and confident as his regular stable of musicians, vixens, and muscle cars. 

Our final Summit stop in 2018 was at Loyola University’s School of Mass Communications. We spoke to Dr. Álvaro Bootello’s marketing students about how Tight Ship works for us as an alternative to in-house and agency life. With all that and a reprise of extracurricular food, friends, and fun, the 2018 Summit was jam-packed—but it prepared us for landing our biggest projects to date, only a few months later.

Tight Ship Summit 2019

2019: Changing Course 

Those big projects ate up most of the next year, and that—along with the unpredictable ebb and flow of life’s rough seas—pushed our third Summit into November. This time we had no huge conference to match with, no podcast calls to wrangle, and no looming deadlines—so we had plenty of time to plan for Tight Ship’s future in 2020 and beyond.  

Three strategy sessions in as many days—candid, face-to-face, and hour-long—helped us decide what that future might be. Moving forward, Tight Ship will continue designing for event brands, but also dedicate more time to related work in creative media curation (including data visualization and cartographic illustration). We’ll begin by collaborating with NOLA DNA’s Intelligent Archives (where Julia pulls double duty as IA’s Chief Design Officer), helping them capitalize on a vast trove of legacy print media assets.

We’ll also continue to support emerging creative professionals; from our SoCal HQ, Keir will explore career coaching, both one-on-one and with speaking engagements. He began the latter earlier this year with “Design for Storytelling” for UCSB journalism students, and during the 2019 Summit reprised “Five Ws of Getting A Design Job” for digital design students at Tulane’s School of Professional Advancement. Need to boost your (or your students’) creative confidence or allay career fears? Book Keir for a visit!

Tight Ship co-captains Keir DuBois & Julia Sevin

Join Us On Board!

While 2019’s Summit proved more mellow (despite the usual happy distractions of NOLA), it ended up being just what we needed to set long-term goals and visualize Tight Ship’s ongoing voyage. If you (or your organization, or someone you know) need some extra help with in-house creative or brand projects, drop us a line! 

Everybody’s working harder these days, and sometimes critical things like branding or graphics or even good taste drown in the ocean of logistics involved with any project or production—but it’s easier with the right help!

Relying on a single creative firm keeps branding, engagement, consistency and memorability ship-shape for the entire cruise. Tight Ship’s team continues to deliver compelling visual identity across multiple media. Get a look at what we can do for you by contacting us today.