Alright, so your business or organization has a birthday coming up. Before you up and order balloons and champagne, consider the many creative ways an anniversary celebration can be leveraged as a compelling campaign. From a good old fashioned rebrand and limited edition products to social media sweepstakes and art contests, there are a lot of different ways to go about it. Don’t panic, here are 9 creative ideas for celebrating your company anniversary that will make everyone want to join in.

1. Starbucks marks 40 years around the sun with a fresh new look

Simplified, monochromatic branding refresh circa 2011 Via Starbucks.
Animated evolution of the Starbucks logo and cup design
The evolution of Starbucks’ branding. Via Starbucks.

What better way to celebrate decades of world domination than a branding refresh? Starbucks’ visual identity has evolved a fair amount since their launch in 1971, but for their 40th anniversary the iconic two-tailed siren got a sharp new look. The emblem went full green and dropped the “Starbucks” wordmark, simplifying overall and putting more emphasis on negative space. This eco-friendly move cuts down on ink usage and aligns the design to the rather flat aesthetic of the early 2010s.

It goes without saying that updating branding makes a whole lot of sense when a company’s been around for almost half a century, but Starbucks didn’t stop there. They took the opportunity to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at Zürich Central, reopening the first Starbucks location in continental Europe after remodelling with entirely regional and upcycled materials. This was a great chance to position themselves as committed to local culture, rather than as a massive corporate operation.

While Starbucks is definitely in a league of their own, you can always take a big anniversary as an opportunity to have a think about the relevancy of your branding. If a rebrand is in order, that’s a perfect reason to stir up some hype with a party and new swag.

2. Zendesk turns 10 and shows off their creative chops

10 year anniversary art contest winning entry by Sasha Lahijanian
A winning entry from Zendesk’s 10 year anniversary art contest. Via Zendesk.

Not every company can or should mark an anniversary with a large scale rebrand or grand remodel, sometimes it’s a better call to celebrate the employees that contribute to your company’s culture. That’s exactly what SaaS-superstar Zendesk did as they celebrated 10 years of revolutionizing the customer support industry, hosting an art contest for their employees with the theme “10 pivotal moments in our company history.” This was the perfect opportunity to flex their team’s creative muscles and remind everyone that the startup space is still very much a human space, while also focusing on the story of their growth.

They also put together a gorgeous landing page with 10 lessons they’ve learned along the way. This gave them a chance to share more of their company values and experience visually, without the stodginess of corporate communications.

3. Coca-Cola commemorates the 100th anniversary of their iconic bottle

Coca-Cola’s original 20-ounce PET contour bottle
The 20-ounce PET contour bottle was introduced in 1993. Via Coca-Cola.

Ah, Coca-Cola. More than a household name, the legendary soft drink company compiled an interactive, chronological gallery showing off the evolution of their packaging designs in a push to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their trademarked contour bottle design. The timeline follows the journey of the Coca-Cola bottle from 1915 to 2015 and also includes one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by their unmistakable branding, from chairs made from recycled bottles to repurposed, custom glassware.

111 Navy Chair made of recycled PET bottles
Coca-Cola partnered with Emeco to give the Navy Chair a makeover. Each chair is made from recycled PET bottles. Via Coca-Cola.
Bowls from recycled glass Coca-Cola bottles by Nendo
Glassware by Nendo using recycled Coca-Cola bottles, inspired by the base of the original contour bottle.. Via Coca-Cola.

Anniversaries are a time to celebrate where we come from, but they’re also to celebrate how we’ve changed. This timeline does a fabulous job narrating the prodigious, century-long odyssey that continues today, and emphasizes the strength of a visual identity that, despite consistent and considerable change, has been persistently recognizable over the span of more than 100 years.

4. Acne Studios salutes 1 year in LA with limited edition local flair

Acne Studios Eastern Columbia Building Sweatshirt
Acne Studios limited edition LA anniversary sweatshirt featuring the Eastern Columbia Building. Via Hypebeast.

Sometimes an anniversary is a slightly more modest affair, like Acne Studios’ celebration of 1 year in the wild, wild west (also known as Los Angeles). To commemorate their Californian branch’s first birthday, they released a special edition sweatshirt featuring their new home: Claud Beelman’s Eastern Colombia Building, an Art Deco staple of LA’s Broadway Theater District. Coming in a couple of light and breezy colors, the sweatshirt celebrated local architectural flair while promoting their own brand and tempting their loyal customers with limited edition merchandise.

5. Marvel Studios marks 10 explosive years with a star-studded photo op and social media sweepstakes

The Marvel Cinematic Universe hit the silver screen in 2008 with Iron Man. 10 years later, with 14 television series and 24 feature films either released or in production, Marvel Studios certainly has cause to celebrate. To mark this very prolific decade, Marvel is hosting a 10-Year Sweepstakes this year, encouraging fans to share images and stories on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #Marvel10YearSweepstakes over the course of 5 weeks.

With a new winner each week (winning an “Ultimate Marvel Fan Prize” package, including a visit to the “Captain Marvel” set and a tour of the studios), the campaign is a wonderful way to rile up their fanbase, keep everything Marvel-centric, and boost global engagement and awareness. To top it all off, they also gathered more than 80 actors and filmmakers in a single photo to memorialize the accomplishments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Group Anniversary Photo
More than 80 actors and filmmakers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe met for a secret reunion photo in honor of their 10th anniversary. Via Marvel.

What can we learn from this? Playing to your audience’s interests works. Sweepstakes may be old-fashioned, but they can still be relevant. A look behind-the-scenes can intrigue and humanize, and all good campaigns come with a hashtag.

6. Happy Socks rounds off 10 years with a smile (and fresh prints)

Happy Socks Limited Edition Product Packaging
Bold, bright, and beautiful limited edition packaging for Happy Socks anniversary collection. Via Highsnobiety.

What comes after 10 years of success? Expansion of course! If you sell a product, hitting 10 years is the perfect opportunity to release a special line, or to expand your product offering. Happy Socks did both, offering special ranges of socks, and expanding into other undergarments. Besides honoring legendary pop artist Keith Haring with a special collaboration, they’ve upped the ante with gorgeous and very on-trend packaging for the release of their anniversary collection.

Special events are always perfect excuses to show off your creative chops, so channel Happy Socks and bring originality, great design, and business acumen to your anniversary.

7. Moo celebrates their success and dances their way into the future with a dystopian party

Making it 10 years as a business is a pretty good excuse to have a party. And that’s exactly what Moo did. Moo has been providing print goods with stellar design and superb quality to the masses and we here at 99designs are grateful to have worked with them over the years. In what could be seen as a cheeky nod to current affairs, the theme of their 10th anniversary party was a quasi-dystopian vision of 2116, with creative costuming, over-the-top decor and lighting, and all around good vibes (check out #10yearsofmoo on Twitter for reference).

They also went above and beyond and sent cupcakes to loyal customers who had been there from the get-go, complete with a personalized thank you note on their gorgeous cardstock.

Moo celebrates 10 years
Striking light installation for Moo’s 2116 10 year anniversary party. Via Moo.
Moo celebrates 10 years
Handwritten thank you notes add a very human touch. Via Moo.
Moo celebrates 10 years
Let them eat cake! Moo’s most loyal customers received a special delivery. Via Moo.

8. UNICEF celebrates 70 years of changing the world with a thought provoking then-and-now photo essay

Major anniversaries aren’t always so light-hearted. UNICEF’s 70th anniversary was a bittersweet nod to all of their humanitarian work, but also of how much still needs to be done to make the world a safe and healthy place for everybody.

70 years is a long time and, while a lot has changed, many people still toil through the same hardships. UNICEF, in their mission to provide aid, healthcare, and hope to displaced and impoverished children worldwide, highlights these problems with their UNICEF@70 photo essay, a then-and-now study under-lining problems faced by people entire generations apart. The piece is an emotional reminder of hard modern day realities, underscoring the need for all of us to be generous, responsible, and aware.

Describe the image in a couple words
The juxtaposition of these photos of malnourished children is a powerful message as to the importance of humanitarian aid (left: 1946 in Greece; right: 2009 in Niger). Via Medium.

Anniversaries can be great opportunity to look back and inspire. Non-profit organizations can use anniversary campaigns to mark their massive achievements and mobilize people around their mission. Photo essays like this, or informational pieces like brochures, posters, or infographics are fantastic ways to educate and motivate the public.

9. 99designs celebrates 10 years of design connections worldwide

This month marks our very own 10th anniversary at 99designs and we couldn’t be more proud to have fostered so many hundreds of thousands of design connections since our humble beginnings in 2008.

To express our enormous gratitude, every employee was given 100 dollars to go to a charity of their choice, as putting people first is one of our core values as a company.

We believe in the power of connection, so we designed a special landing page dedicated to 10 ways we’ve seen design connect people from all over the world, including but not limited to philanthropic causes, creative collaboration and even leading to people falling in love (how romantic is that?!). And of course we took to our social media accounts to share all those wonderful stories from designers and customers under the hashtag #decadeofdesign.

10 year anniversary poster design by krlegend
Celebrating a decade of design connections with a colorful, energetic poster design. Design by krlegend.
10 year anniversary poster design by -Z-
Brushstrokes and perspective illusions give this softer poster depth and personality. Design by -Z-.
10 year anniversary poster design by goopanic
Soft gradients and extra terrestrial typography give this poster design a clean relevancy definitely worthy of our 10 year anniversary. Design by goopanic.

Because design is our number one passion, we took the opportunity to unveil 3 gorgeous posters (designed on our platform, of course) commemorating the occasion, also printing the designs as postcards to send to old colleagues, customers, designers, and friends.

As an international design marketplace, we strongly believe that design is global. Our celebration had to reflect that, hosting parties in all three of our offices: Oakland, Melbourne, and Berlin. We also indulged in a bit of a #throwback and made a Spotify playlist of our favorite tunes from 2008 to help us boogie the night away.

3 cheers to 99designs!
Cheers to us! Design by damuhra.

10 years means a lot to us, which is why we came at this from all angles. We can only say thank you to the unfathomable amount of people that have made 99designs possible, and cheers to the next 10 years!

How did you celebrate your company’s biggest milestones? Tell us all about it in the comment section below!