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Daren Bascome’s Proverb Agency tells Boston’s uplifting stories

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Daren Bascome’s Proverb Agency tells Boston’s uplifting stories
Daren Bascome has filled the Proverb offices with a diverse staff of professionals whose work has garnered the agency numerous awards. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PROVERB AGENCY

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Boston’s own Proverb Agency brings color to the ad industry with their uniquely successful approach to branding and design for campaigns centered around equity, commerce, innovation and community.

Daren Bascome, Proverb’s managing director, founded the agency in 1997 with the intention of “lifting up communities in and around Boston” by developing clients into the best versions of themselves.

The lasting impact of work done by the team at Proverb, led by Bascome and managing partner Chris Needham, on powerful brands such as Lexus, The North Face and Citizens Bank has cemented Proverb as a “bastion, not only for smart marketing, but also for diversity,” said Bascome.

Born and raised in Bermuda, Bascome came to Boston in 1987 to attend the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and began his journey as a graphic designer in Boston, offering services and creating products for clients worldwide for roughly four years. His specialty was exhibit design. As rumors of layoffs began floating around the firm, he decided to go all in, funding Proverb at 27 years old in 1997 with $8,000 and a used laptop.

Beginnings

During the first year of operation, Bascome worked with clients such as MIT Media Lab on a series of concerts using “smart” instruments. For the following ten years, Daren spearheaded the operation on his lonesome, building up a portfolio and nurturing everlasting industry connections that would continue to evolve.

Alongside Needham, who hopped on board in 2008, Bascome created Proverb with the dream that it would blend smart marketing and diversity but avoid “diversity for diversity’s sake.”

Bascome founded Proverb with the intention of “lifting up communities in and around Boston” by developing clients into the best versions of themselves. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PROVERB AGENCY

Having curated a unique team with varying life experiences, perspectives and talents at his agency who each bring something special to the table, Bascome set himself up for success early on. When speaking about the talented minds that make up Proverb, Daren stated that each employee “comes from a different place and with that comes a different approach to problem solving,” making their team especially capable of attacking projects in new and innovative ways.

For the “Inclusive Boston” campaign to capture Boston’s diverse appeal, Proverb presented imagery of the city that wasn’t limited to what happens between Fenway Park and the Freedom Trail, celebrating all 23 of the city’s neighborhoods with billboards, digital ads and inclusive events with the Celtics and Red Sox.

While the vast majority of corporate America would rather see our economy fall before admitting that diverse teams are a necessity, the data don’t lie. Not only is company culture more inclusive and enjoyable when DEI efforts are legitimized and supported by leadership, but according to a report published by McKinsey, businesses with clear commitments to diversity show a “39 percent increased likelihood of outperformance for those in the top quartile of ethnic representation versus the bottom quartile” and have an average “27 percent financial advantage over others.”

With a smart, empathetic and passionate staff ready to attack any challenge head on, coming to work every day is a joy for Bascome. This melting pot of perspectives provides Proverb with competitive advantage as their ability to see the world from varying unique angles allows them to refine ideas that truly resonate. Bascome notes that they “come in each and every day with fresh perspectives and ideas on how to bring creative solutions to our clients.”

The agency’s clients include cities and countries, companies and nonprofits, and cultural institutions, and those within industries such as healthcare, academia, hospitality and real estate. They employ 18 full-time professionals and work with a large team of consultants.

Their campaigns have won numerous industry honors, were on the Inc. 5000 in 2023 and won a small business award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

With a smart, empathetic and passionate staff ready to attack any challenge head on, coming to work every day is a joy for Bascome. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PROVERB AGENCY

The team at Proverb aims to work with clients to help them create a lasting impact such as “equitable access to housing, education, healthcare or economic opportunity,” recognizing that their work with branding and marketing has the power to shape narratives and even become an economic driver for communities. Proverb’s deep belief in the power of people and place, and the interaction between the two makes them a perfect candidate to work with cities and countries looking to rebrand in an effort to highlight their culture and tourism.

The team’s work with Bermuda through their Tourism Authority was an important moment for Bascome, as he was placed in the unique position of leading the rebranding of his home country. On a more local scale, Proverb was most recently contracted with the City of Boston to fashion campaigns such as “Embrace Boston” and “All Inclusive Boston,” which pushed the city to release more thoughtful, modern and inclusive content that represent the welcoming environment all cities should strive for.

Diversity matters

As a Black entrepreneur in Boston who has created an impact on the city and its residents, Bascome expresses pride in what his agency has accomplished and pride in leading people to see “that opportunities abound no matter what you look like or sound like.”

Aware of the benefits of acquiring diverse talent, Bascome has filled the Proverb offices with a diverse staff of professionals whose work has garnered the agency a series of awards in categories such as business acumen and growth, as well as design and advertising results.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Bascome believes in bringing your passion to the table and to be vocal about your needs. “There are so many talented, smart people out there who have the advice you are looking for, you just need to ask,” he said.

Bascome urges those around him to continue to recognize the rich and diverse stories around us and share them, as those are the “stories that invite people to engage with communities they may not otherwise have been to.” Proverb prides itself on creating places with soul, partnering with innovative real estate developers, cities, hotels, museums, architects and other organizations to unlock their full potential and connect to markets that may have gone previously untapped.

advertising, branding, Daren Bascome, diversity, Inclusive Boston, Proverb Agency

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