"Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed."
Diego Aguayo met God through a miracle. One January 1st (1991), the only day of the year when churches are closed in Colombia, Diego stood in front of one of their doors, and begged heaven, saying: "God, if you are there, get me out of this problem ".
The problem being -- his life was in tatters. Despite his enormous professional success, on a personal level, Diego had problems with alcoholism, drug dependencies, broken family, and a divorce scheduled; all these, putting at risk his career's future.
The miracle came a few months later, on April 17, 1991. That day was the wake mass for a client's mother. It was in the San Juan de Ávila Church in Bogotá, Colombia. Diego arrived and stood in the back. When the preacher started to share the gospel, he read the passage where Jesus had risen and appeared to the apostles, but Thomas was not there. When Thomas was told that Jesus was alive, he did not believe. He said he had to see it for himself and stick his finger in his nail hole to believe. Then, Jesus appeared to Thomas and Thomas said, "now I believe". And Jesus said to him: “Thomas, because you have seen me, you believed; Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed." Instantly, like a reflex, Diego looked up at the sky and declared believing: "God, I believe that Jesus is alive, and I believe it without seeing. So, I am blessed. I don't know what it is to be blessed, but I am blessed, because I have believed that Jesus is alive and I have not seen anything".
And like a movie you've seen before, in a matter of seconds, Diego's life changed. This was followed by inconsolable crying, deep regret and an unmeasurable joy that had to be shared with everybody. As Diego himself describes it, "I had to leave that church to tell everyone, my wife, my parents, my colleagues. Everyone! That Jesus was alive! Later on, at work, people started saying “here comes Jesus Aguayo.” And like one of those miracles yo see in the Bible, Diego suddenly gave up alcohol and drugs.
Before that happened, Diego was consuming half a bottle of vodka a day, that he hid in the office bathroom so no one would notice. At the same time, he was doing Cocaine, Marijuana and eye drops to hide it. But, the truth is that with those problems, there wasn't job security anywhere. As you can imagine, around this time, Diego lost his job as Vice President at Aser Young & Rubicam.
Although there was still much to repair, and other consequences to live, having discovered Jesus had been like winning the lottery. Getting back his family, educating the kids, and fixing his professional career seemed so easy next to Jesus.
Aguayo opens its doors
Having Jesus on Diego's side, made him discard the idea of looking for a new job. Without clients or employees, Diego Aguayo and Alexandra Agudelo (his wife), on October 21, 1991, opened the doors of Aguayo & Associates, in the Los Alcázares neighborhood of Bogotá, Colombia. The partner (of “Associates”), was Diego's father, who never doubted his son, and when he needed support he was ready to invest in the company.
With the goal of becoming the most creative advertising agency in Colombia, Aguayo opted for creativity as a powerful sales tool. In its first line of business, Aguayo offered advertising campaigns, to position brands and trigger sales.
The first awards for creativity were immediate. In 1995, Aguayo began to participate in festivals and contests that rewarded creativity. That same year, Aguayo won first place in the Carlos Lleras Restrepo Award and bronze at Congriber 95 Miami in the category of Graphic Campaign, both with the client Progreso Corporación Financiera . Also, Aguayo got awarded bronze in Fiap, in the same category, with their work for Estibol company.
It wasn't until 1997, when Aguayo positioned itself as one of the most creative businesses in the country, by winning the Condor Awards, the most important contest of Colombian advertising, being awarded 5 Golden Condors and the Grand Prix on television.
During 2011, Aguayo won one of the most prestigious and wanted prizes among Advertisement Agencies , the Big Effie for the Mercedes Benz Advertisement Campaign.
The company obtained more than 250 awards, including gold, silver, bronze and nominations, at the most renowned creative festivals in the advertising industry, such as Cannes Festival, The New York Festivals, London International Advertising, Clio Awards, Fiap, Wave Festival, Ojo de Iberoamérica and Effie Awards, among others.
From Advertising Agency to User Experience (UX) Strategy Consultant
Around 2012, Aguayo faced an uncertain outlook for advertising agencies due to the internet revolution, and the way in which communications and advertising were being done. Making Aguayo ask themselves, a strategic question about their future: What services can complement our service offer and where could we contribute more to our clients?
Juan Manuel Aguayo, Diego Aguayo's son, who had joined the company in 2009, took the initiative to lead a new project: develop a service line focused on High Quality Digital Products' Design. He added the "High Quality" to the project, guided by his work philosophy: "always, everything we do must be perfect". All that was left, was to identify how to do it.
After inquiring with several of Juan's colleagues, a friend based in Montreal, Canada, gave him the answer in a book called "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. The author generally defines a work methodology that focuses the design process on the experience of the user who will be using the product. The framework (UX Centered Design) eliminates the subjectivity of the designer, the programmer or the client, regarding what works or doesn't in the product; Focusing the solution on the expectations and objectives of the user (and the business), achieving the best possible user experience. “If in the end the user has a positive experience, the chances of recommending the product skyrocket significantly. And this hits sales”.
The concept of User Experience makes perfect sense for a company that seeks to offer services focused on increasing customer sales, because it is definitely the (final) user who decides or not to purchase the product for sale, based on their previous experience. We are not dumb, we know if the experience you have with a product is awful, you are never going to buy it again.
With the new strategic plan for the company, Juan formed the User Experience Strategy (UX) Team as the foundation of Aguayo's comprehensive services, and went out to sell. At the beginning it was more of a new company within a traditional company, with a new sales market and product objectives. Poorly defined, almost like a spin-off of Aguayo Advertisement Agency.
The persistence and the concept of quality as a competitive differential, gave positive results. After a couple of years, Aguayo became a high-quality boutique firm in User Experience Strategy (UX) services focused on Product services, Digital and Marketing and Advertising Campaigns focused on Sales.