What got us here won’t get us there
Today we are refreshing our brand identity at Work Networks. It marks the start of a new chapter, Work Networks 2.0 if you will. It’s a big moment for us, and I am so grateful to the team who have worked so hard together on this. As you’ll know, particularly if you’ve ever set up a client facing business, getting around to paying proper attention to your own branding, website, sales collateral etc is really tricky when everyone is time poor and (rightly) perpetually focused on our customer success, launches, demos, proposals, partnerships, internal processes, change etc. So a massive well done to the team, in particular Jen Draper and Dylan Lambert for leading the project, and also huge thanks to Dani Hunt (highly recommended, Dani is amazing) who has done an exceptional job herding us cats, and translating everything into a beautiful new Work Networks. Nothing like fresh new threads in time for Summer.
Why, and what was wrong with the old one?
I think the old adage of “what got us here won’t get us there” applies. As we went through the process, Matthew Burgess put it really well when he said: “Our existing brand presence feels a bit wishy washy and weak. Lots of companies have great branding but don’t live up to their brand's promise. With us, I think it’s the opposite (which is reassuring in some way I suppose). I think the service we offer is real and useful. I have a LOT of faith in us as people. We deliver high levels of care, ingenuity and value. I’d like our brand to say that in a clear, confident and slightly playful way”. A massive shout out to Matthew, my first ever Work Networks colleague, and whose brilliance, love and energy go right to the heart of our DNA, and to what sets us apart from any other brands out there.
How did we get here?
Good things take time. Important things are usually hard. I realised this fairly quickly when we first tried to connect 70,000 people in 2008. To me it seemed so simple, the so called “no brainer”. I assumed everyone would get it. But then we discovered we had to wade through treacle (important treacle like information security, leadership alignment, tech integration, channel confusion, cultural challenges, siloed departments not working well together).
I still believe, like I did then, that a large proportion (70% + was a figure I think McKinsey used to say way back when) of the value of the social web, remains untapped inside our organisations. Yes we are now better at connecting online, but mainly via overused synchronous channels like Teams and Zoom. The power of connected community is something I still believe we need, our businesses need, and that many are still only just scratching the surface of.
Entreprise 2.0 we used to call it, Social Business, Enterprise Social Networks, communities of practice, communities of purpose and interest. We could call them work networks. It’s was never a fad. We’ve seen partners and tech platforms come and go. Work Networks are here to stay. The fundamental need for connected community at work hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just sometimes hard to achieve. As we all know, it’s not (just) a technology project, it’s people, it’s culture.. It can therefore be messy and challenging. It requires passion, energy and expertise to make it work.
Wherever any of us work from, work remains the one place we come together to channel our energy and effort towards a shared mission with other human beings. And yet so many organisations are still disjointed, siloed and continually reinventing the wheel. We’ve worked with many pioneers and are very privileged to have had front row seats, watching these companies transform into connected communities.
Who knew that we would see this technology being used in such diverse ways as coordinating relief efforts in a war zone, creating new products, allowing senior leaders to really connect with frontline colleagues, for example in ambulances and hospitals and create safe places to discuss and improve working life.
Where are we going now?
I set up Work Networks 7 years ago with a clear mission to connect people inside the World’s organisations, and we continue to achieve that, with some 150 million connections a month and rising. But I believe connection is just the foundation. We of course need to be connected communities, if we are, together, going to figure out how to shape our future with AI, and all the opportunities (and threats) that are around us today. The future at Work Networks and for our partners and customers is so exciting as we start to build new ways of achieving presence. 3D not just 2D, and building VR, AR, MR onto the mix of asynchronous and synchronous ways we can come together in this hybrid world. Good things take time, passion, hard work, and overcoming challenges. I’m proud and excited that we now have a more grown up brand to give us a solid foundation as we play our part helping to shape that future.