We have a little milestone coming up soon at CN&CO, giving us pause to reflect on  where we are, how we got here and who we have to thank for being with us on this exciting journey.

On 1 August 2015 CN&CO got its first growth spurt. We took on a bunch of new partners and team members, and moved into our offices in Illovo, Johannesburg. At the time we were a group of nine people with four or five clients (plus four or five potentials), loads of big plans, and boundless energy and optimism. The team had a long and strong history of working together – mostly in financial services – over a period of 15 years.

Flash forward two years: our team is a wee bit bigger, our offices are a wee bit bigger, but where we’ve seen the most impressive growth is in the size and diversity of our client base. From four or five mostly financial services clients in 2015, we have grown that base to around 30, with about a third of them in non-financial industries.

“It’s never been our intention to become a massive, multi-national agency,” says CN&CO founder Carel Nolte. “In fact, that is the last thing we want to be. Our mission is to provide a range of people-and-brand services to clients we love working with. We don’t limit ourselves to a specific industry or a specific set of services. What our clients have in common is that they’re nice – the type of people you’d be happy to have over for a braai at your house. They’re also smart, lovely to work with and share our values.”

Carel says the biggest benefit of a diverse client base is the ability to cross-link and find opportunities. When you combine this with the personal networks of the CN&CO team, and those of our clients, the possibilities are endless.

“Being able to link people and organisations in ways that might appear unconventional at first, allows us to develop relationships to yield new benefits for our clients – and there are many examples of how this has happened.

“The first partnership we facilitated was between RMB and the national rowing squad. Carolynne Waterhouse of RMB and Paolo Cavalieri of The Powerhouse Trust, which helps to raise funds for rowing in South Africa, met at a CN&CO ConFab session. They got chatting and realised that there was a lot they could do together. The result was RMB used the rowers for a fantastic TV ad, which launched the Thinking.Pulling.Together payoff line, and a whole stream of though processes within RMB.”

Staying with rowing, CN&CO organised for Olympic silver medallists Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling to give a talk at a Contiki launch. The Contiki team were so impressed that they gave the duo a free trip, which they’ll be taking at the end of the year.

Then there’s

  •       The Thai Africa Restaurant Group promotion being run by Club Med (if you book an Asian holiday, you get 20% off you next meal at Orient, Kong, Wangthai or So Yum)
  •       Thai Africa’s CSI partnership with the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy (through our association with St Stithians)
  •       Plantronics-sponsored headphones as prizes in the EasyEquities #playintheUSA challenge
  •       Europ Assistance helped with the arrangements for the Paris Marathon for CN&CO, Urban Espresso and Purple Group (among others), who were our guests at Club Med in Val Thorens

… and many others

“These are links that people miss if they are too focused on spreadsheets and data and so-called quantifiable outcomes,” says Carel. “Relationships lie at the heart of everything we do. Once you have strong relationships in place, the rest will follow.”