“Do good work.” “Value our partners.” “Be good to each other.” These are just a few of the core values that makes Column Five tick. Based in Irvine, California and Brooklyn, New York, Column Five has managed to establish a purposeful brand driven by partnership, mutual respect and an overall desire to bring a little more good into the world. In a world dominated by faceless interaction, Column Five Co-Founder and CEO Josh Ritchie aims to develop personal connections and spur growth through meaningful work: “We help brands tell their best stories. That’s what people want to engage with. That’s what we do.” Describing Column Five’s approach as “format agnostic,” Ritchie delves into the company’s wide range of creative platforms. From marketing and advertising to designing and branding, Column Five brings a discerning eye and an innovative spirit to every facet of the creative process.
The masterminds behind Column Five – Ritchie and fellow Co-Founders Jason Lankow and Ross Crooks – met at Vanguard University in 2000 and started producing compelling content that caught the eye of local businesses. “The whole media landscape was changing and it was a really interesting time to be just starting off in this space,” says Ritchie, “we were doing some really interesting, new things with content, but we also just kind of happened to be at the right place in the right time.” This period of expansion prompted the Column Five team to open up shop on the East Coast with their Brooklyn office and seek out new surroundings in Orange County.
“We were just outgrowing our space in Newport and we needed something that was a little more polished. What we needed in terms of size and amenities was available in Irvine,” Ritchie notes.
Column Five’s office at The Vine OC boasts bright, open floorplans and contemporary amenities:
“Our vision for this space was something really minimal because we wanted something that we could grow into. We don’t have any permanent furniture; everything that we have is modular and easy to breakdown,” Ritchie explains.
Describing the design elements as “Lego style,” Ritchie touts the versatility of the space, calling it a “blank canvas” that can be built up and customized depending on the company’s needs. Ritchie also highlights the relevance of adaptable work environments, expressing how important they are to today’s millennial employees. Being millennials themselves, the Column Five co-founders were able to provide an informed opinion of what a prospective employee might want out of a workplace. The end result was a space that encourages an overall sense of equality among employees: “We basically said everyone, including us founders, are going to have the same workspaces as everyone else,” says Ritchie. You also won’t find private offices in Column Five’s workspace, a decision that plays down hierarchy and supports an open-door policy among employees.
“We chose an open format because it works really well for this generation of office workers. The only exception is we had eight conference rooms built and named each one of them after a planet, just because everyone here is sort of obsessed with outer space.”
The agency’s innovative floor plan also lends itself to compelling and impactful brainstorming sessions, which is essential to the team’s creative process. Facilitating a more democratic work environment, Ritchie believes the collaborative office design supports solidarity and teamwork: “It’s like, hey, we’re all in it together and we’re all necessary for this thing to succeed,” Ritchie explains. Surrounded by like-minded companies, there is no shortage of inspiration in Column Five’s building. This is one selling-point that has made the team’s experience at The Vine more fulfilling and convenient. In fact, Column Five’s office was designed with the help of sustainable design firm LPA Inc. – another resident at The Vine. “We’re fortunate that our neighbors are really talented architects,” says Ritchie.
In addition to an engaging interior design, Column Five also supports an educational and enriching work culture through several initiatives. Ritchie explains, “We really take our responsibility as employers seriously, so everything that we do in terms of new policies, how we pay our people or how we create our benefits – we do that with the intent to help people have more healthy, peaceful lives.”
When it comes to Column Five’s body of work, Ritchie is driven to produce work with a purpose. From Girls Who Code to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Column Five’s list of clients includes world-renown institutions focused on making the world a better place. Right now, the creative team is developing a documentary-style video highlighting female entrepreneurs for investment firm Charles Schwab. This type of game-changing storytelling is what motivates Ritchie: “The way we look at storytelling is that it should educate, engage and inspire action. A story should be focused on the audience – what their needs are – and it should deliver value. To me, that’s it.” To learn more about Column Five, visit columnfivemedia.com.