Join the evolution

Hey Coda community,

Today’s launch is not a feature or bug fix, an update to our pricing or our platform. It’s a bumper crop of billboards, which is just starting to roll out near and around San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

“Everything evolves. Even documents.”

Billboards, like Coda docs themselves, are blank canvasses. When you can write and make anything you want, it’s hard to decide what do. For three weeks, our Coda Brand team and a couple creative friends (shoutout to Dina Lovinsky and Ben Relles) brainstormed ways to tell the story of Coda. The theme of evolution emerged early and resonated instantly. Coda as the evolution of docs is a message we’ve used since day one. It appeared in the thesis statement that hung on our office wall. It was front and center on our website when we came out of stealth. We made it the opening theme of our launch video: A cursor blinking through time. And our first ad campaign—enough of this sheet —carried this message too: A rallying cry to break free from old documents and spreadsheets.

This campaign is the same song. But whereas enough of this sheet plays it in a minor key, everything evolves plays it in a major key. The campaign revolves around imaginary figments of evolution—inspired by 19th century naturalist illustrations, delivered with a deadpan line. “Everything evolves.” (You can read more about what we mean by that here.)

A subset of concept illustrations courtesy of BUCK.

The hardest part was figuring out the set of evolutions that spanned a broad tonal range. We wanted a mix of playful, funny, elegant, idiosyncratic, and weird. We enlisted the help of the creative geniuses and CGI masters at BUCK (who also happen to be longtime Coda users) to concept and create this cast of characters. We weighed in the sketches at our weekly all-hands. We texted drawings to friends. We even posted up at a WeWork one day and solicited thoughts from passers-by.

As of today, there are seven characters in existence. They’re like Coda spirit animals—vehicles onto which we can project different perspectives and emotions. Sharkette (aka Predatorus Incognitus) might be a patron saint for imposter syndrome. The sushi plant (aka Bento Oceanus), a symbol of whimsy and fantasy. See them all at coda.io/evolution. Which one is your favorite? What does it evoke for you?

Ways to join the evolution.

  • Suggest our next character by filling out a form here or tweeting at @coda_hq
  • Download zoom backgrounds aka your own personal billboards (same link)
  • Tag us in billboard photos with the hashtag #EverythingEvolves
  • Type /evolution in your doc to explore the pun-laden docs we developed for the campaign art.

P.S. If any creative producers or marketers are curious about the docs we used to run and organize this campaign—how we kept track of the media buy, communicated with our production partners, market tested, etc—let us know. Happy to share if it’s relevant to others.

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maybe a bit off topic but i gotta ask…

why a billboard campaign in a tiny geographic ?

wouldn’t a social media campaign reach more people, cost less per impression, provide narrower targeting, and collect more precise data ?

and why is there no qr-code on the posters ?
i.m.h.o that would call folks to action. gather useful data and give a stronger connection to millenials and gen-z.

im a techie, so what do i know ?

guess it just shows that i am very much NOT in the target niche for this campaign !

i would love to be wowed by some genius marketing theory that explains how this is the most brilliant campaign in this domain since jeff lawson’s “ask your developer” billboard for twillow…

any coda marketing folks able to enlighten ?

with respect
max

ps. i LOVE the images, just the right mix of humour and metephor… i just want it to be seen by a much larger audiance online - like every country in the world

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I really enjoy this, especially the chameleon.

I tried to get up with some characters. but it is HARD! My best is a Cheetah with a parachute brake - could be funny if drawn right, but I don’t think a brake is all that much of an evolutionary advantage.

Or maybe a fish eagle lifting a fishnet out of the water.

P

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That’s awesome :raised_hands:

We’d be very interested in seeing the docs you used for the process!

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The easiest thing is to just use the url given how short it is. Scanning a QR code feels unnecessary.

I’m SO excited about this campaign. When Laura first broached the idea of a new campaign, my first thought was “how can the team top Enough of this Sheet?” But the new Evolution campaign definitely hits the mark for me. What I love best about it is how it creatively captures the playfulness and ingenuity of the Coda community. Every day we see you use Coda in imaginative and unexpected ways. We hope these imaginary characters evoke that same feeling of seeing someone rebuild a game of snake in Coda, or watching a team build a totally unique planning process. It’s like encountering a dog with a propeller tail, a lizard with an umbrella tail, a fish with a shark fin.

You can see the full cast of characters at coda.io/evolution. There’s a great spot to add your own ideas if inspiration strikes. I recommend scrolling through to the docs at the end—the buff chicken has the punniest two-way-writeup example :slight_smile:

And of course, we always love to share the fun so please re-amplify / add your thoughts on your favorite social platform: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook.

Thanks!

Shishir

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I love it! Thinking about heading up to SF just to spot some of these creatures. My son would love it.

Great job Coda team!

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Hi @Xyzor_Max !

Andrew from the Coda Marketing team here. You’ll for sure see more digital executions of this campaign over the coming months. (In fact, you may have already seen some of our social posts!)

One of the things we knew as we closed out 2021–and yes, we have been planning this campaign since the end of last year!–is that 2022 will be a consequential year for Coda. In our Coda 3.0 launch, we introduced massive updates to our foundational product and are working hard to deliver on a broader ecosystem opportunity for Packs. While doing all this great work, we’ve still felt a bit like Silicon Valley’s best kept secret. To help more Makers discover the power of Coda, we knew we needed to be more visible, and create memorable executions of our brand and values that help exponentially more people say, “I’ve heard of Coda!”

Our “out of home” advertising is centered in some high traffic tech hubs: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Our amazing marketing team managed to unlock quite a deal on the cost-per-impression if I do say so :wink: And, our hope is that this campaign is just getting started . . .

Given some of the placements–especially billboards–there are quite strict requirements around what elements can and cannot be in our ads. As you can imagine, some billboard companies would catch a lot of heat for having QR codes that could be interpreted as encouraging drivers to take photos while driving. This meant QR codes were not an option for this first phase of our campaign where we need to consider scaling our creative across multiple dimensions via a handful of production and media placement providers.

Finally, our hope is to empower and equip teams of all sizes to unlock delightful & impactful collaboration with Coda. In some larger enterprises, we have to navigate a very thorough process across multiple contacts at the same company to help Coda get adopted at a meaningful scale (this is true of all SaaS providers). At every step of the way, it helps if the people to whom we’re showing the Coda magic can say: “I’ve heard of Coda.”

Thanks for your thoughtful question, and I hope this sheds a bit more light on phase 1 of our awareness-focused campaign to help more people learn about Coda. And please feel free to suggest our next characters by filling out a form here or tweeting at @coda_hq!

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Hi

How fab.

Yes please I’d love the shared documents please

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@Andrew_Stinger, thanks sharing that bigger picture.

as i said - i am a techie and already 150% comitted to the coda magic - so i didn’t really see the bigger picture and longer game here.

so knowing this IS part of a bigger campaign that WILL use social media to reach the bigger global audiences, my doubts are laid solidly to rest.

so now i can delight in the playfulness of it all and participate in it as well.

i find those images really do capture what it felt like to come from excel and sheets into the world of coda,

suddenly the chickens had arms and the smaller fish could out-do the big ones and dogs could propel themselves into the z axis with ease !

so… well done folks

max

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Just yesterday I stumbled across some posts on LinkedIn, and was very sad to see Notion with 167k followers, and Coda with 22k…

But I am certain that the Coda followers are each worth their weight in gold. :wink:

I have been pushing my use of Coda and the possibilities of Coda very hard at one of my clients, and it is surprisingly hard to get traction!

R
P

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I had so much fun learning about the different characters yesterday when Coda launched this campaign. I submitted two new ones using the submission form.

(1) Placido, the Pancake-Flipping Platypus. (Pancakus Flippus) His duck-billed nose evolved to be able to rotate. (2) Bunny Mop (Rabbitus Spongeus). Her cotton tail evolved to spin and mop floors.

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I suggested an African Fish eagle with either a fishing net, or a spear gun.

Spear gun on the left, fish net on the right…
image

But that Chameleon is still the best!

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Can we get the images as wallpapers in high res?

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@Steven_Cornelis you should be able to download high-res images on Everything evolves. Even documents. · Evolution!

I’m gonna update my bears and evolution doc to reference the new Coda characters. Any chance I can get the characters as an image? No big background, just the character?

Or the character on a smaller background better for for a Coda doc?

Edit: I found them. Just had to look at your doc @Brian_Klein

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Also a bit off topic but sorry, the thought just came to me regarding evolution.
I’ve been trying to make Coda.io better known here in Germany for quite some time. So I know the problems one encounters when trying to explain something that didn’t exist before.
I’m not sure it helps to say there is an evolution from a document before it to a new Doc, a better Doc.
It’s ok to say that Notion is an evolution towards a more modern document. But with Coda it goes well beyond that. At Coda, it’s an evolution from a document to an app. That should be the core of the message and that’s how Shishir thought at the beginning. The evolution is the functionality. It is the possible automation, the packs and above all the buttons that make this functionality visible. And it is in particular the ability of Coda to make this functionality available on mobile devices.
So in my opinion, the evolution is from document to app.
If you set the focus a little more internationally and look at the term “Doc”, this term creates very different associations. Millions of users associate it with the .doc file extension of a Word file, but it is difficult to say whether this is then positively associated. Doc can be seen as a short form of document. Documents are deeds, contracts and similar papers. These are dusty words from an analogue time.
Please don’t get me wrong, but here in Germany I can’t describe it as modern and innovative when I use the term document.
It’s a completely different story with the term “app”. For example, if I say to someone: What, you still organize yourself with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets! Why don’t you do that with your own app, just for your needs? Such a sentence has a completely different effect. And I think it has the same effect in other countries or in other languages.
It is also not decisive whether Coda already fulfills all desired functionality that one expects from an “app”. More important is where Coda will develop in the future and that looks like more to me than a more developed document. So maybe think “big” right away?
Coda itself uses the term tools.
“Coda is the evolution of documents. Give your team the tools they need to thrive.”
Now, what kind of tool can it be within a document that then initiates evolution? Or is the document as a whole the tool through which evolution occurs? Summary: So it’s a tool - then it can better be an app. Of course, we Coda lovers know what that means, because we know Coda. But if you want me to explain it to someone, a tool is even more vague than the term an “app”. But the idea of ​​an app is at least clear: it is used with a PC or mobile phone, has a graphic interface and functionality.
I know the Coda guys can’t just do it like that.
But I just think it’s great: Coda, the evolution from Doc to App. It could also be called “EvoDoc” (sorry if the horse is running away with me :slight_smile:

By the way, my favorite is clearly the chameleon, also because that would be real evolution. Tools in the talons of an eagle isn’t quite the point. Let’s see if I have a good idea tonight.

And thanks to all the people supporting the idear from Shishir

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thanks for the shoutout :slight_smile:

I like that your write-up addresses the challenge with explaining Coda to new prospective Coda users. I feel certain that everyone in the Coda community wants to get better at their “2 min elevator pitch” about Coda. This topic reminds me of something I heard Jason Fried from Basecamp say when he was asked about Basecamp’s competition. His reply was and I’m paraphrasing “our competition isn’t other productivity apps it is email.” The point being that their product helps move people out of email threads and into topic-centered tasks and discussions. Similarly, with Coda, I think they are trying to get that first blinking cursor decision that a user makes. Currently, a lot of people when they start something … anything … they pull up a Google Doc and start outlining or brainstorming. So I think the idea behind “Everything Evolves Even Documents” is to try to get that same user to think of Coda as their first blinking cursor that they use to start something. If Coda can get a new user to just start in a Coda “doc,” then that user is primed to see the “app” powers of their “doc.” So, similar to Jason Fried saying that Basecamp’s competition is email, Coda’s competition is whatever that user’s first blinking cursor currently is (which is still largely a classic Google or Word doc) hence "Everything Evolves Even Documents."

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