Below is my entry - exactly as is and definitely whipped out in the eleventh hour - that I minutes ago submitted to Fast Company in their contest for repositioning and branding strategies. (Lively discussion on this topic continues at BrandAutopsy.) For an example of what old FC was like, Seth just reposted one of his columns - definitely a favorite - but there were so many favorites then.
Go back to your roots. Re-read the founder's manifesto. Understand the frustration that it was born out of. Yeah, it's still there.
The relevance is 100% there. But FC has strayed off it's mission.
FC stood for Freedom for me. It doesn't now. FC stood for Growth. It doesn't now. And regeneration.
Freedom -- quite the opposite of Safety (as Marketing Playbook advised on their blog).
If you've worked in corporate America long enough and you're bright-eyed and enthusiastic about using business as a force for good - not necessarily in a Pollyanna naïve way but a change agent point of view - eventually you may get to point where you feel stifled, handcuffed and ensnarled in the slowness, the fear of change and growth, the control structures, the myopia, and the soul-draining inauthenticity.
Fast Company was a practically a savior to knowledge workers everywhere that felt that their full potential was being contained - and they knew it. Not an exaggeration there - I felt alone, FC was a savior. There were others who thought like me?
It gave us a collective voice. It gave us inspiration, a beacon, a credo. It was like stumbling onto a oasis after a long search for life-sustaining water in a soul-draining desert.
It was unabashedly enthusiastic, positive and optimistic.
Freedom to just do it - make stuff happen, change the world, make up our own minds. Take charge of our own ideas, our own projects, our own hours, our own lives, our own companies and MAKE IT HAPPEN rather than have all our possibilities lie fallow.
I remember glancing at the April 2004 issue. Uggh, I thought. I wondered why I was still an FC subscriber.
Same old story about one more person training their replacement in India that the rest of the business press was spewing.
I know globalization is not a black and white issue but the old FC would have taken a decidedly different angle.
You lose a job, an industry - yes, there is grief. (All too familiar territory for me - the dot-com crash left me unemployed and underemployed for over 2 years.) But I think we needed a way forward - a beacon, an inspiration, a credo - than we needed one more story that pushed us down rather than pulled us up. The end-result of my own journey through those 2+ years has been akin to a phoenix rising out of ashes rather than a downward spiral into Dante's Inferno.
Regeneration. Creative destruction is much scarier to the old guard that holds onto to fear and status quo like security blankets -- but not so to FC subscribers. You could help readers in a globalization story much more in providing strategies for reinvention. Get back into the mindset of freedom and possibility and opportunity and growth.
If you tap into our fear of change, fear of the unknown - which is buried somewhere in each of us - you've miss the role that we've assigned to FC. We look for you as a reminder - CALL US ON IT! - to burst forth into our best selves and to fully engage with our businesses to do great things.
Another thing is you don't have to impress us with big names. There seems to be more emphasis on 'credibility' as defined by other business press for quotes, stories, case studies. Seek out stories on the edge - people and companies we haven't already read about 50 times.
Engage your readership more for subjects and stories close to our heart. Find out what makes us tick. FC is a mindset - and all the FC material and its branding emerges from that.
Get back to Freedom, Growth, Regeneration.
Our work laid out in the manifesto is not done. And we're not quitters.