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Red Nova Labs wins Battle of the Brands.

So what is this competition that we’ve been harassing you about for the whole month of March? KC Source Link, a local organization that links Kansas City’s businesses to the right resources, hosted its third annual Battle of the Brands competition. And with your help, we won.

It all began with a preliminary voting round that determined the top 64 brands in the Kansas City area. With 4 categories available (Tech/Innovation-Led, Bricks & Mortar, Microenterprise and Established & Growing), there were only 16 spots available in each grouping.

Red Nova Labs wedged its way into the Tech/Innovation-Led category, and we were thrilled.

We surveyed our competition and almost immediately noticed that our favorite Kansas City brand, Sporting KC, was in the running as well. While we figured we wouldn’t make it very far in the tournament, we geared up for the challenge and started reaching out to friends and family for votes.

“We decided to compete because we wanted Kansas City to know more about this great company we work for,” says Red Nova Labs’ Marketing Coordinator Katelyn Wyss. “Unlike the self storage industry, where people know our products and our people, we don’t have a big local reputation.”

Much like a March Madness bracket, several pairings of companies were matched up against one another. The victor was determined by a community vote. Our opponents were intimidating but our enthusiasm was intense. We came in every morning and buzzed about the bracket while our social media expert, Abby Madison, spread the word through Facebook and Twitter.

Throughout the voting, KC Source Link fueled the fire of intrigue. They posted teasers on their Twitter page and their blog. They also released blurbs about the companies involved, which showcased the stories behind those organizations. Overall, the competition effectively built awareness of all the different types of organizations in Kansas City.

“You know, startups get a lot of attention in the media, as do tech companies. But that’s not our whole entrepreneurial story,” says Sarah Mote, Marketing and Communications Manager at KC Source Link. “In fact, it’s a small part. More than 130,000 microenterprises provide income to KC residents. Our Main Street stores give KC its unique character. And we have more than 200 entrepreneurial resources that are ready to coach and support those entrepreneurs to success.”

How Far We’ve Come

We actually competed in the Battle of the Brands in 2012 when we were a small think-tank working on several different projects. We were knocked out in the first round but we’ve come a long way since then.

During the last couple years, we’ve focused on a singular market and worked to define our brand. We went through a huge hiring spree last summer, which doubled our staff. We promoted Bob Zhou to president after watching him take on far more than his role as CTO required. We held onto our collaborative approach to problem solving, but we continued to streamline our communication until all the pieces fell into place.

“This competition gave us a lot of confidence. We’ve made a big splash in the self storage industry, but now we feel like we can hold our own in Kansas City. We did beat out some huge brands, but the real wins came from how connected we feel as a team and to other Kansas City businesses now,” says Katelyn.

In fact, the win means everything to us. When we heard the news, we all reminisced on where we started: Bewildered that we made it into the bracket at all, and looking at our competitors in awe. But the publicity, social media interactions and invaluable team bonding reminded us that we can accomplish just about anything together.

We couldn’t believe how many people believed in our passion, our brand and our lives by voting and asking their friends to vote. With your support, we took down Kansas City giants like Cerner, AMC Theaters and The Roasterie. The owner of FireBug BBQ, whose company won the title “Champ of the Microenterprises,” even supported us on Twitter in the final round.

Social Media Madness

If you follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ our Facebook page, you’ve seen a plethora of posts about the competition. Or even if you’re connected to people who work here, you’ve seen us virtually panhandling votes.

Our marketing department did everything it could to fuel RNL’s posts about the competition. Honestly, it was mostly creative and clever Abby who led the campaign. From organizing K-Cups and people for photos to writing poems (all while rocking at her everyday duties as a web designer), Abby kept our followers so excited that some of our Facebook posts earned up to 33 shares and our tweets saw more RTs than ever.

Red nova labs poem for Sporting Kansas City.

Roasterie Kansas City Red Nova Labs.

Red Nova Labs’ Moms

We have some of the best moms on the planet. Not only did they raise us, but they carried us to the finish line by asking all their friends to vote for us. We’d like to send a special thank you to some of the best ladies in our lives:

Griffin Gatewood and his mom.

Griffin Gatewood’s mom. Not only did Terry Gatewood raise a fine salesman, but she also sent a mass email to everyone in her company asking them to throw a vote our way! In Griffin’s words, “She’s da bomb.”

Chris Klein and his mom.

Chris Klein’s mom. Mary Klein wins the “texting feign” award. Throughout the rounds, she sent texts to at least 100 of her friends asking for their votes. When Chris told her our marketing team was ramping up our social media to gather more votes, she said, “Hey, don’t give them credit for my results!” (Don’t worry Mary, we know you were the one that pushed us over the edge!)

Megan Garden and her mom.

Megan Garden’s mom. A consultant dietician by trade and incredible mother by choice, Ellen Garden came up with a very creative way to get us more votes. She travels around to all sorts of locations and meets with many different people so she printed up little cards with instructions on how and when to vote for us. Now we know where our marketing director’s creativity comes from!

Stephanie Brown and her mom.

Stephanie Brown’s mom. Whether she was in the office or playing Bunco with her pals, Sue Brown made sure to support her daughter’s company by getting everyone to vote for us. She’s a gem. Parent bonus: Stephanie’s dad traded votes for purchasing Girl Scout cookies from coworkers.

We Owe It All to You

Our moms aren’t the only ones who stood beside us. We reached out to you, our friends and family, and we’re thrilled that you took the time to support us both in life and at work. We realized we were probably bombarding your news feeds, but your eagerness to help us win meant the world to us.

Though this competition was just the jolt we needed to keep our spirits high, we know that there is so much more to come. Just as we said in 2013, we’re determined to make this the best year ever at Red Nova Labs. With you by our side, we’re eager to continue pushing ourselves to improve everything that we love about our workplace. Let the battle continue!

Red Nova Labs says thank you.