March 21st, 2021 - Business Growth

The Anniversary Effect

It’s been a minute. It’s been a lifetime. In fact, it’s been a year. And what a year it’s been. 

In January 2020, before most of us in Canada had even acknowledged the idea of a worldwide pandemic, I met with my longtime friend and colleague, Jo Williams, and we reflected on the pressures of running our businesses. It’s bloody hard work, day in and day out. And, at times, it’s achingly lonely. Together, we sat and acknowledged the loneliness that seeps into the day-to-day as we make great big decisions, everyday decisions, and thousands of tiny decisions that impact our businesses, our clients and their bottom lines, and of course our families.

Jo and I sat with this. Two entrepreneurs with similar backgrounds and skills, yet slightly different smarts and abilities that make us better together. And we made a pact. 

We’d work together, hear each other, help each other. Sometimes formally. Sometimes informally. But always right there to listen and lend a hand. 

Little did we know that this pact was being cemented just in time to take us through the most challenging and the loneliest year our world has ever experienced. 

A partnership—formal or informal—with someone you trust, connect with and complements your skill set as an entrepreneur is invaluable on so many levels. 

– Jo Williams 

As I write this blog, reflecting on the anniversary of our pact, it is the actual anniversary of the World Health Organization officially declaring a worldwide pandemic.  

Usually when a catastrophic event hits, survivors have made considerable steps in processing their emotions and reactions to what happened; yet at the one-year mark, they are felled by The Anniversary Effect, a milestone that triggers traumas of the past. 

The “Anniversary Effect” is a collection of disturbing feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on or around a date that marks a significant event. You could be feeling sad, irritable, anxious, emotionally shutdown, or unable to sleep, and a quick glance at the calendar will help you to connect this emotional state to a traumatic event. As that date nears, bad memories start to resurface, and you will realise that you are experiencing the annual echo of a trauma. 

– Bridget Freer

We haven’t had a year break from the ravages of COVID to process our losses. To come to terms with the internal aches of family and friends missed, the mental health impacts of endless isolation, or the broader damages to community and the economy. 

No, COVID continues to break hearts, bankrupt local businesses, and steal lives.  

So today, instead of focusing on the anniversary of COVID, Jo and I are focusing on our own Anniversary Effect, and we’re celebrating the year we’ve spent together. A year using our combined smarts, talents and connections to give businesses the boost they need to stay healthy, strong, and survive the ravages of the pandemic. 

Over the past year, we grew businesses and gave back to our communities in countless ways, working tirelessly through the shutdown to do what we could to help. We booked out well beyond capacity in 2020. And there was a simple reason people kept calling. We specialize in something of real commercial value: brand expertise. 

Strong brands attract more customers, at a lower cost per acquisition, who are happy to pay a little more, and will buy a little more often. Branding’s ROI is borne out again and again, in study after study.

– Brian Lischer 

We’ll soon be launching a video, courtesy of one of our new partners, John McConomy, to show some of what we’ve been up to in 2020: from volunteering for a United Nations/WHO COVID initiative to launching a luxury travel agency’s new brand, collaborating with one of Alberta’s oldest ranches to launch their grass-fed beef operation, unveiling a local tech success story, and creating a platform for one of Canada’s most notable public policy experts. We were busy and are still catching our breath, polishing off some projects that leaked into 2021. 

Still, that didn’t stop Jo from taking a philanthropic herd of reindeer viral and closing the year chatting with Ryan Seacrest on Live with Kelly and Ryan. 

It’s been a crazy horrible wonderful year. A year of learning, a year of growth, and a year we hope never to repeat again. Watch for more of what we’ve learned over the coming weeks in future blogs and social channels.

After a brief break this month, we’ll be opening up our books again ready to take on new clients, giving them the boost of brands well built and executed so they can thrive in the new world about to break through. 

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Inspired by a little blackcoffee

Some of my favourite moments are spent in search of something beautiful while I drink my first cup of coffee and hear the house wake up.


Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.