A Halloween Exclusive: 20 Years of Super Work


On a mission to create change for good.

Deep in a forest of wonder and enchantment, there lives a magic banyan tree. Two decades ago, two brave individuals set out to find this tree in the hopes of using its magic to change the world for the better.

Converging at roots of the great banyan, the two learned of their mutual intent and decided to work together. Becoming The Guardian and The Raconteur (aka Mega Shorts), they created the League of Banyanites – a team of like-willed individuals dedicated to protecting the great banyan.

Together, they use the superpowers the great banyan has granted to fulfill the vision of improving lives and creating change for good…

Meet the Team

Change Is Hard

Change is Hard

Over the past 20 years I’ve learned a lot about how people react to ‘change.’  Since Banyan’s mission is creating change for good, I’ve always been interested in how people respond to change in their own lives, and why these situations mostly end up falling under the heading of either heartache or opportunity, often with no middle ground.

Through the work that Banyan does I’ve been blessed to be able to talk with lots of people who face change in their lives—either by choice, circumstance or being compelled to. These are people who have tried to stop smoking; wanted to quit drinking; to leave an abusive relationship; to somehow manage the weight of crushing personal debt; to come to terms with cancer, or Hepatitis C, or HIV or even endure the long wait for a healthy organ to become available for transplant.  And the one thing I’ve learned from all these experiences isn’t revelatory, but it is insightful.

Change is hard.

People tend to want to just “keep on keeping on” (as a number of Disco songs used to say).  We humans like things to stay the same—slow and steady, no surprises.  But when change does come, which it always does, it somehow always surprises us and sets us back in our seats.  We, as a people, are almost always unprepared for ‘change’ in our lives—mainly because we often lack the focus or forbearance necessary to manage that change.  Not that we humans are flawed—just unprepared.

I like to think that’s where Banyan comes in.  We believe—and when I say ‘believe’ I mean to a person we really believe this—that if you can help engage someone to better understand the problems and possibilities they face; to comfort and assure them so that they can better process any concerns they feel; to show them that change is not, in itself, a bad thing—and that how they choose to react actually determines its affect on their lives—and that motivating them not only to embrace the inevitability of change in their lives, but to make them aware that they have power—have control—over that change, will make all the difference in how successfully they can move forward.

Here’s an example.  About 15 years ago, we began production on a documentary film focused on a young woman who had been diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer.  Our goal was to film the last 100 days of her life, in an effort to show the benefit of hospice care in what only can be described as a sad and hopeless situation.

Over the course of just over three months I watched as our subject went from being dumb-founded by her diagnosis, to understanding that she was facing the end of her life, to being angry at the randomness of the disease and the inability to fight it, to her eventual acceptance of the change she was about to experience.  And when I say ‘acceptance,’ I mean total.  She came to completely embrace both her diagnosis and future, and was determined to make the most of the time she had left.

We watched as she made plans for her children’s education, their graduations, their weddings, her funeral, the care and support of her husband, and how specifically (in very small ways) she planned to stay relevant to her family after she was gone. She completely embraced the ‘change’ she was facing in her life. And by this choice, she went from a victim to an inspiration and example for others.

On one of our last visits before she passed, I remember asking her if she was afraid.  She told me that once she had found acceptance, she wasn’t afraid—and had actually become very motivated to manage what was about to happen. She said, “Change is hard. You can’t stop it.  You can’t change it. But you can embrace it – and that gives you the power.”

That gives you the power.

Imagine the impact to society if we can help people with diabetes embrace losing weight and getting healthy; help young pregnant mothers who smoke embrace the benefits of quitting for their babies’ well-being and their own; engage and motivate black men having sex with men in the value of choosing protected sex as a way to prevent HIV; and encourage those who have lost a loved one to consider organ donation as a way to keep their legacy alive.

I’ve always tried to keep that in mind as those of us at Banyan develop tools, projects and products designed to help people embrace change in their lives—to help them move from powerless to powerful.  If we can help engage people so they don’t feel alone or helpless, educate them in the realities of what they face, and motivate them to not only accept the change that is inevitable in their lives but to embrace it—to own it—then I think we’ve done our job.

Change is hard. But sometimes—especially if we’ve done our jobs—change can be good as well.

20 Healthy Things in 30 Awesome Days

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we decided to declare April “Health Month.” When we started the month we said:

Throughout April, we will be raising funds to feed needy families, we will be volunteering, we will be visualizing health data, we will be sharing videos, we will be exercising, and we will be spending quality time with our kittens and puppies.

Today is the last day of April and thus the end of our first-ever “Health Month.” In honor of our 20th anniversary, I humbly present to you 20 “healthy” things that I did this month. I encourage you to think about the things you do for your physical and mental health and for the health of your community (and hey – if you’re feeling jazzy why not declare your own “Health Month” and celebrate it with your colleagues, family, and friends).

Without further adieu, I present: 20 Healthy Things in 30 Awesome Days

  1. I participated in the Atlanta Women’s 5K. I was eager and couldn’t wait until April to get started with “Health Month”; the Atlanta Women’s 5K was actually on March 28th but that’s close enough to April to count, right? I love 5Ks; I enjoy the crowd, the spirit, the camaraderie, the adrenaline rush, and the fact that it’s 23 miles shorter than a marathon.
  2. I registered for the AJC Peachtree Road Race and the Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance 5K. This may be hard to believe given the first two things on this list, but I’m not really much of a runner. That being said, I try to commit to doing these 2 races each year. The AJC Peachtree Road Race is a huge Atlanta tradition – a 10K that takes place on July 4th. The Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance 5K raises money for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities – alums of the schools come together for a little friendly rivalry to raise money for their schools and beat the other schools to the finish line (GO HOWARD U!).

    Isa & her family celebrating their PRR victory @ the beach

    Isa & her family celebrating their PRR victory @ the beach

  3. I booked my annual beach vacation. My family has a July 4th tradition – we run the AJC Peachtree Road Race and then we go home, hop in the shower, change clothes, and jump in the car to head to the beach for our annual family vacation (after all, we need some sort of motivation to do all that running). We booked our vacation villa for July this month. So, in my mind, I’m already on the beach relaxing, unwinding, and getting much needed rest and renewal.
  4. I spent quality time with my son. I have a 5-year-old son and he is pretty freaking awesome. He is also really active and FULL of energy. I spent lots of quality time with him this month doing everything from playing baseball and football to pretending to be a Power Ranger fighting crime in multiple galaxies. Running around with him is sure to keep me nice and healthy.
  5. I celebrated 10 years of marriage. In addition to a cool kid, I also have a pretty awesome husband. On April 9th we celebrated 10 years of marriage. It turns out that marriage is pretty good for your health. We’re looking forward to many more years of love, happiness, and health.
  6. I went on walks in the park. I sit behind a computer for long stretches of time during the day. Sometimes I really just need to get up, get outside and enjoy nature (after I’ve taken a nice dose of allergy meds; the pollen in April in Atlanta is reminiscent of The Blob). This month, I took advantage of the warmer weather and took lots of leisurely strolls to clear my mind and get my body moving.
  7. I danced. My husband is a musician and a music lover. Music is almost always playing in our house. It is not rare for a full-on dance party to break out in our living room on a random Wednesday evening. Dancing is fun and liberating, gets our hearts pumping, and helps us work up a good sweat. My son and I are working on giving Bruno Mars and his Uptown Funk crew a run for their money. Don’t believe me? Just watch!
  8. I laughed. I like to have fun and I really like to laugh. I love the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. I laughed a lot this month and I plan to laugh even more next month!
  9. I spent time with my family and friends. I love my family and my friends. They restore my energy, make me laugh (See #8), listen to me, offer advice when I need it, and inspire me because they are constantly doing such amazing things. This month, I spent a lot of time talking to my friends near and far and I got to enjoy time with family members who visited us during their Spring Breaks.
  10. I rode roller coasters. My brother-in-law and his beautiful family came to visit us this month and the first place they wanted to go was Six Flags. As a good host, I felt obliged to conquer at least a few of the coasters in the park. Few things give your heart as good of a workout as plunging down an insanely high hill at top speeds.
  11. I ate a funnel cake. While at Six Flags, I indulged in a funnel cake…and it was yuuummmmyyy! It made me happy. Beyond that, there was probably a pretty good dose of folate in the dough. While I won’t attempt to argue any other nutritional benefits of my funnel cake, it did remind me that it’s okay to treat ourselves occasionally. Moderation is the key. To balance my funnel cake, I had some pretty amazing Brussels sprouts the next day that made my insides feel nice, happy, and healthy.
  12. I ate frozen yogurt. By now you may have gathered that I like food. I’m listing frozen yogurt as one of my healthy choices because let’s face it – I could have eaten ice cream but I didn’t. Frozen yogurt has calcium and all those active cultures that exercise the digestive system. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So yay for me!
  13. I helped feed people in need. My Banyan colleagues and I spent a wonderful evening volunteering at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The Atlanta Community Food Bank is an amazing organization that works hard to improve the health of communities in Atlanta by providing nutritious meals to families who don’t have access to the food they need.

    Banyan volunteers @ the Atlanta Community Food Bank

    Banyan volunteers @ the Atlanta Community Food Bank

  14. My friend completed a triathlon. You may ask what this has to do with me. The answer to that is simple – nothing. I’m just super proud of my friend (See #9). I told her that I was going to brag to everybody about her accomplishment and this was my chance to do just that.
  15. I attended lots of tee-ball games. You may be thinking that this one is going to be similar to #14 where I brag about what a great tee-ball player my son is while not professing to have done anything particularly healthy myself. Well, you’re wrong – my son’s team has a large and dedicated fan base of parents, siblings, and neighbors. As a member of the fan base, I am also an active spectator – I cheer loudly, laugh a lot, and dance and jump in the stands. It’s physically demanding and emotionally fulfilling. GO BOMBERS!

    Go Bombers!

    Go Bombers!

  16. I started my days with motivational affirmations. I find that starting the day with a moment of reflection helps me have a positive attitude and hopeful expectations. By spending even a brief moment of reflection, I am able to relieve stress and ease any anxieties I might have about my day.
  17. I drank wine. Just as starting the day with motivational affirmations helps to relieve stress, occasionally I feel the need to end my day with a glass of wine to shake off any stress that tried to latch on to me during the day. In addition to the stress relief benefit, wine (in moderation) might also be good for my cardiovascular health. That’s what I call a win/win!
  18. I spent quality time with my colleagues. One of the coolest things about Banyan is the workforce. Some pretty amazing people work at Banyan. Given the nature of the work we do, we are always working in teams. One of the best ways to work as a productive team is to spend time building bonds with each other. This month, our Atlanta office volunteered together (See #13), moved into a new office, carried boxes and assembled office furniture, and took a walk to a coffee shop in our new neighborhood, among other things.
  19. I educated the masses. And by “the masses,” I mean a few friends on Facebook. In light of the protests unfolding in Baltimore, MD this week, I took the opportunity to share information with people about how social determinants like poverty, limited access to resources, underemployment, resource inequities, and limited educational opportunities lead not only to social injustices but also to negative physical, mental, and emotional health outcomes.
  20. I worked at a job where I got to play a part in developing innovative, effective and creative health communication projects that will ultimately improve the health of more people than I can imagine. We call it “change for good” and Banyan has been doing it for 20 years now. We’re proud of that.

20 Years in 60 Seconds

One of the great things about being 20 years old is looking back on some of the great work we’ve created, friends we’ve made, and important messages we’ve helped spread across the country. We found so much great stuff that we thought it would kind of be a shame not to share some of it.

So, we present to you…


20 Years…in 60 seconds.


Happy Birthday, Banyan!

I still remember meeting our president, Sally, at a client meeting not long after I joined CDC in 2008. I didn’t follow a typical path into public health – I more or less stumbled into the field, a burned-out local reporter looking for a way to parlay my journalism skills into another profession. Through a connection with a former roommate, I landed a media relations / health communications gig at the agency.

One of the first projects I took on introduced me to Banyan.

I didn’t realize companies like Banyan existed before joining CDC. I remember coming home from work and telling my husband, “I met the most interesting women today, who are at the helm of a really fascinating company. How do I get there? On that side of the work?”

A couple of years ago, I finally figured it out. And as luck would have it, it’s kind of an awesome place to be.

It’s not perfect, but I don’t think any worthwhile opportunity ever truly is. Working with creative folks spread across two offices in two different states certainly presents its fair share of challenges. But it also provides incredible opportunities, not least among them work on a wide-array of interesting projects with some truly wonderful people.

Not to mention the fine fortune of celebrating one heck of a birthday. But what’s a birthday celebration if you do it all alone? So we’ll be having our cake – and eating it with you – all year long.

Party favors in development include:

  • An interactive timeline of our work and growth over the last 20 years
  • Our best effort to highlight 20 years in 60 seconds
  • Orange out! (you’ll just have to stay tuned)
  • Celebrating Change for Good
  • Our most massive community service event in company history
  • A fun, new way of honoring the people who are Banyan (allowing you to get to know each of us a bit better)

We hope you’ll check back here often for updates.  It isn’t – and would’ve never been – a party without you.

20-year sapling

Our New Mark: 20 Years of Growth

It’s an exciting day. Today, we unveil a new mark for Banyan Communications.

Over the past several years our company has grown. We’ve developed new services, brought in new people. And in many ways, we had outgrown our previous mark. Our 20th anniversary has given us the opportunity to update our mark to reflect the company that we’ve become.

Now, I’m happy to officially introduce you to the new visual mark that will carry Banyan Communications forward.

The new mark is simple and elegant… and has been designed by our best visual designers to be used within a system.

Let me tell you about a few of the little details that make this mark special.

1) It respects the past (trunk)

The Trunk: After 20 years our sapling is all grown up. The trunk is a minimized element in the new mark, mature and thick. Inside each ring represents a year of our history. We have realized the potential in the sapling and it reflects a reality of 20 years of growth. We honor the original trunk (storytelling & filmmaking) with a shadow.

2) We are Banyan…literally (letterforms)

Letterforms: Our company and the Banyan tree have a similar growth pattern. This unique tree system expands by sprouting new trunks.; similar to how we have brought more people and services into the company. We have added: strategy, engineering, research, and design. The letterforms represent the people and services we provide – We are “banyan” in a very literal way.

3) Our work is our product (canopy)

Canopy: The rectangle above is referred to as the “canopy” and represents our work. The collective output of our company is the work that we put out into the world that inspires change for good; The Banyan tree works together to push out many tiny leaves that are visible as a mass (the tree canopy) from a distance.

So that’s the new logo.

It’s a more accurate depiction of who we are as a company. We’ve grown beyond a 20-year-old sapling into an elegant and more readable mark. It respects the past, it represents us…and our work in a very literal and meaningful way…

So the next time you come across a Banyanite, congratulate them on the 20-year mark… oh, and ask for a new business card, they are really cool!

Long. Strange Trip

Celebrating 20 Years

1995 to 2015…that’s 20 years. That’s the time it takes for a child to grow to adulthood – and for a small creative firm to grow into a robust health communications agency.  And, as Jerry Garcia is credited with saying, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” 

On January 1st, 1995, Banyan basically consisted of two staff; one client; one dog; 800 square feet of office space; one computer (with no Internet); a box of print-your-own business cards; and a single passion for creating “change for good.”

That’s the humble beginnings of how Banyan came to be.  Committed and passionate people (some said crazy) who were willing to leave their established careers in marketing and filmmaking – to risk forming a new company committed to “change communication.” A business created with the optimistic hope to enhance people’s lives through responsible and creative media …crazy, right?

Since those small beginnings we have worked hard and stayed focused; gained a broad range of clients and experiences; greatly expanded our staff, capabilities, and skillsets; won lots and lots of awards for our work; and managed to stay motivated by our mission – to create change for good.

This leads us to where we are today. In 2015, the Banyan team now has 30+ staff and works from two office locations (St. Louis and Atlanta).  We are honored to work with a broad range of government and nonprofit clients and regularly provide services that we could have only dreamed of back in 1995.

(In fact, if someone had told us back then that someday everyone would be carrying around powerful computer phones in their pockets – we would have looked at them as if they’d told us aliens had just landed on the front lawn!)

That’s all about where we’ve been and where we are now.  But the really interesting part of the Banyan story is where we’re going.

Throughout the year of our 20th anniversary we’ll be sharing some very cool new products, specialized skills, and innovative communications solutions – as well as highlighting our sensational new staff – all of which we will roll out over the course of the next 12 months.

And while 1995 to 2015 has been a thrilling and rewarding journey for Banyan – we’re even more excited about our plans for the future.

All we can say is – hold on to your hats, folks.  It’s going to be quite a ride!