Discover was still a relatively young company in 2010 when it was preparing to celebrate its 25th anniversary the following year. At the time, the company had little in the way of formal historical records or archives, and had limited in-house expertise to dedicate to the task. But while the company did not have decades of archives and stories to draw from, its youth provided the company with a significant advantage: It still had direct access to its living history, stretching back to its inception.

With the founding generation of employees still active in its workforce, Discover’s anniversary represented an opportunity to engage staff and recapture the spirit that had existed since the company’s founding. Leveraging this, The History Factory helped Discover take advantage of its anniversary by helping research, develop and execute an anniversary strategy that enabled the company to capture the Discover story, celebrate its heritage and ignite hope for a successful future.


Before diving in with recommendations, The History Factory conducted primary and secondary research to develop a deeper understanding of Discover and its culture. This process included 10 story-gathering focus group sessions with Discover employees at several levels and locations, such as a major call center in Phoenix. One-on-one interviews were also conducted with past and present senior executives—including the company’s first president—as well as with other company culture carriers. The material gathered from these two- to three-hour filmed interviews informed how the Discover story was told across multiple platforms and provided material for extended quarterly videos.

These sessions and interviews helped to identify and authenticate the key themes driving the Discover story, as well as dozens of stories that captured milestones in the company’s evolution. Using this as a foundation, The History Factory produced a Story PaletteTM with a lead, illustrated story supported by shorter vignettes, or “touchstone stories,” exploring different aspects of the four key themes coming out of Discover’s history. These stories and themes would appear throughout the anniversary and were used in a variety of deliverables.

When The History Factory was brought into the anniversary planning process, Discover had determined that it wanted a surprise anniversary event each month, but planning had not progressed much beyond that point. Based on the initial phase of research, The History Factory suggested they augment the planned monthly anniversary year events with an internal employee engagement website that would serve as the hub for anniversary-related initiatives.

Entering the anniversary year, a survey of employees determined baseline attitudes and engagement scores. Every program would later be measured again to see if and how the programming was affecting employees. Based on the research and preliminary work, Discover determined that a strategically executed 25th anniversary celebration should accomplish the following goals: increase its internal employee engagement score and improve its Gallup ranking in this category, touch virtually all of its 11,000+ employees with at least one anniversary activity, and achieve at least a 75 percent rating among employees surveyed.

The History Factory developed a 25th anniversary website for Discover that featured a variety of components designed to engage employees, beginning with a 30-day “teaser” splash page depicting a sun dawning a bit more each day until it was fully above the horizon on launch day. Once launched, an illustrated, interactive timeline engaged people with embedded short videos and brief write-ups of corporate milestones. Each quarter a new theme driving Discover’s history was featured— (1) culture and character, (2) customers, (3) payments and (4) financial services—supported by the website’s core content and related illustrated content. By the fourth quarter, all four thematic sections were available. Four videos, one for each of the four key themes, debuted on the anniversary website at the start of each quarter.

To further engage employees, multiple-choice history quizzes were posted biweekly on the site throughout the year. The quizzes consisted of four questions drawn from material on the anniversary website, and incorrect answers led to links on the website where the correct answer could be found. The winners’ rankings were posted on the site for all employees to see. At year-end, the anniversary theme was removed and the website was repurposed to serve as a heritage portal.

As a thank you to the employees, The History Factory produced an employee culture e-publication, with a limited print run of 16,500, based on the eight Discover values: Doing the Right Thing, Innovation, Simplicity, Collaboration, Openness, Volunteerism, Enthusiasm and Respect. The text was primarily drawn from Discover employees’ responses to program- related questions about how Discover’s values related to them personally. Other stories featured employees’ fondest memories from their time with the company. Full of the images and words of Discover’s people, this 140-page gift was a way to capture personal stories and recognize the anniversary by celebrating the people who made it possible.


The Discover 25th anniversary program was a resounding success in both execution and employee engagement. Employee participation in anniversary events and projects was 82 percent, or over 9,000 from a workforce of approximately 11,000. Overall employee engagement scores rose significantly, from 4.15 to 4.23, and Discover is now in the 69th percentile of all companies surveyed by Gallup.

When its anniversary began, Discover hoped to achieve a 75 percent rating among employees. At the end of the year, over 90 percent of employees felt that the anniversary effectively celebrated Discover’s heritage and created optimism for the future. The anniversary increased enthusiasm about working at Discover for over 80 percent of respondents, and most importantly, 88 percent of those surveyed felt the anniversary recaptured the spark and spirit that existed at Discover’s inception.

Ready to get started? Call us at (703) 631-0500 or Send Us a Message