The worst advertising campaign ever?
It’s a funny thing, hearing your business name over and over again every time you look at LinkedIn, or turn on the news. A friend messaged me the other day to say that as far as advertising campaigns go, this is a bit extreme (he has a point).
But ‘a new normal’ seems to be part of our vocabulary at the moment, and it made me think about how we got our name. I was in the process of setting up the business, and out for breakfast with two of my closest friends. One of them asked me what I was planning on calling the company – I said “Driver Diversity and Inclusion Consulting”. She rightly pronounced it the worst possible name in the world (thank goodness for the bluntness of great friends).
The coffee cups and plates were shoved to one side, and a formal marketing brain-storming activity* (*not a formal marketing brain-storming activity) occurred. We talked about how a workforce which is representative of the broader population is always a really good thing for a business - the most diverse companies outperform the least diverse by a significant margin with a McKinsey report stating that "companies with the most ethnically/ culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits." We also know that an inclusive culture is an absolute no-brainer, a Deloitte report stated that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80%. We talked about how the business case is really compelling, but often using the words diversity and inclusion make people nervous. There’s something unsettling about challenging the status quo. Especially making a change means you have to do things differently, and as humans we’re just programmed to find that really uncomfortable.
Anyway, the conversation went on, we didn’t reach a conclusion, but as we were walking down the street after we’d finished breakfast, my friend said to me – “I keep thinking about how you said that people sometimes think this is scary, but really it’s not… What about calling the business ‘A New Normal’ – it’s really not intimidating, but it shows that things need to change". And ‘A New Normal’ was born.
And that’s why I really like the fact that our company name is being used everywhere at the moment. Unlike the process of changing your culture, there is a genuine risk in the present situation, and it does make things feel very scary. But like the work we do at A New Normal, this situation shows how adaptable humans are, how innovation springs from things which might feel tricky, and how actually real change can take less time than you think.
I’ve found over the last few weeks that I’ve had really different conversations with new business contacts. I’ve spoken to new clients and laughed about the fact that we’ve both barricaded ourselves into our offices to have a video call without our children bursting through the door. I’ve had really open conversations with near strangers about mental health. And I’ve heard numerous reports of companies who never thought flexible working would work for them adapting incredibly well and getting their people set up to be super productive at home.
So it’s definitely not the advertising campaign I would have dreamed up for us, but “a new normal” works really well in both contexts. And my hope for all of us is that we manage to keep these levels of openness, flexibility and innovation in the new world which awaits us in the not too distant future. Because that really will create a new normal worth hanging onto.