Things are looking a little different around here, but we’re still the same people. Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.
23 years ago we were a few students excited about the potential of the internet and eager to put some recently acquired skills to work. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, as they say. Businesses needed people who knew about the world wide web and took a chance on us. Our first clients were local companies like WCB and Buy and Sell—now WorksafeBC and AutoTrader respectively. We named the company OpenRoad because we felt it captured the optimism and boundless possibilities of a then-fledgling internet industry. We had big plans.
Our ignorance proved to be an advantage. We never had "real jobs" and weren’t tied down by rigid, established corporate practices. We took this opportunity to create a company and culture that excited us. We were—and still are—happy to come to work every day. We were open and curious. We didn’t want to compromise on our values to make a profit. We set out to do great work and to treat people well.
We created value in the marketplace by being flexible, evolving, and adapting to meet our clients’ unique needs. And then we kept doing this. We were one of the first to use human-centred design in Vancouver. We attracted (and retained) some of Vancouver’s top design and technology talent. We built a product. We acquired a design agency. We increased our capabilities. We added new services.
This rebrand has been an opportunity to articulate who we are and what we believe, while setting the tone for our future. We’ve affirmed and expanded our values and set new goals. We’re still the same people, and we’re still passionate about doing great work.
As OXD we’ll continue to work with complex organizations tackling some of the twenty-first century’s most complex social and business problems. Problems like improving citizen access to justice; helping healthcare providers bring cultural humility, inclusivity, and accessibility to their digital presence; teaching grassroots not for profit organizations how to use design methods to spark social change; and keeping public transportation fair and appealing for people with access to car sharing, riding hailing, great cycling infrastructure, and car ownership.
Renaming a company is hard, doing it yourself, even more so. We knew it would be challenging and emotional, but wouldn’t have had it any other way. We brainstormed nearly 4,000 names (3,839 to be exact), checked the availability of 390 domains, and put 28 names through rigorous viability research. We reluctantly threw out umpteen favourites. We learned a lot during this process. Not just about the logistics of renaming a 23-year-old company—accounting, legal documents, internal communications, the list goes on—but also about ourselves.
OXD has a visual, phonetic, and conceptual connection to our old name, but is abstract enough to grow with. By sharing the first and last letters of OpenRoad, OXD becomes a sort of short-hand. It’s a blank canvas. And yet, it has connections to our past. It’s flexible and can evolve with us for decades to come.
It’s affirmed our values, and built up a lot of excitement about our future.