At Slalom, We Believe Digital is in the Eye of the Beholder
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Two Days. Four Cameras. 107 People. 9,000 Words.
At the turn of the decade, I asked our commercial and federal teams in DC, the entire Slalom DC office, to trade me a few words in exchange for a professional portrait. In a world where video content is in high demand, I also offered a dozen or so video opportunities to those interested in exploring the medium as part of their professional development. Slalom DC showed up big.
Digital: The Word
A few months earlier, and on the verge of our 5th year in business in the US / Mid-Atlantic market, I had started thinking about, how in a crowded consulting space, we could bring a little awareness to our brand in a way that showcased uniqueness. I’d been in the consulting business for 15 years and prior to joining the company, I had never heard of Slalom. Internally, we often joke about our “Starbucks name” (Shalom, anyone?) and how some of our parents probably think we work at a ski company.
Yet our brand has surpassed the $1B global revenue mark in under 20 years without any advertising, with limited corporate investment in marketing and with a distributed, market-specific marketing model. And we consistently receive “best of” workplace accolades. I knew building our brand at Slalom DC would need to happen organically and with a focus on the long-game.
All the while, I was getting to know my new colleagues, deepening my integration into our Senior Leadership Team and tagging along on client discovery discussions and engagements. I was asking everyone: “What does digital mean to you?”. And in return, I would get: “What does digital mean to you?”.
Inspired by our values of celebrating authenticity and driving connection and teamwork, I was also toying with concepts of individuality and collectives. I was dreaming up ideas of how to mesh them with the conversations I was having around the meaning of the word “digital”.
Digital: Our Growth Strategy
Back in early 2019, Slalom DC market leaders, many of them OGs (original gangsters, yeah!) since our opening in early 2016, heard a new signal in the market: “Hey Slalom, do you do digital?”. Of course, we do!
An internal team made up of some of our best strategy, operations, and marketing technology consultants had subsequently been commissioned to evaluate our work and provide carefully considered and curated recommendations on the topic of digital. One of which was to find and hire a leader. In the fall of 2019, I joined Slalom DC as its digital leader. Enter Caroline and here we go!
By year end, I had set some pretty aggressive growth initiatives: launch and measure an organic social media campaign, connect individually with as many Slalomers as possible, partner with and sponsor local brands to elevate ours, and put a plan in place for leveraging “digital” as the integrator of our offerings, the multiplier of our capabilities and the ignitor of our growth in an updated go-to-market strategy.
Specific to the campaign, my objective was to encourage everyone to use their voice to express themselves individually, while demonstrating our collective cohesion. I hypothesized that by demonstrating this collective individuality in the market, we could all engage in a different conversation with our clients, current and future. And demonstrate our differentiator from the usual consulting suspects: our people.
Looking Back on the Making of Slalom DC’s Digital Campaign
January 17 and 18, 2020, our 10K-ish square feet office in Tysons Corner VA, known as Slalom DC, was lit.
Physically lit with the presence and energy of more than a hundred consultants. Literally lit with professional photo and video shooting equipment. Every available slot for hair and make up, photography and videography, filled.
A month or so later, our images were ready. Everyone contributed their answer to the following questions:
- What does digital mean to you?
- What is impactful work?
- Why Slalom DC?
Then Came COVID-19
Our collision with COVID-19 is like the rest of the world’s. As we were readying to launch the campaign in mid-March, the crisis came at us like a Mack truck. We went into protection mode, caring first and foremost for our most important asset: our people. As we progressed towards managing the catastrophe, like everyone else in the world, I revisited all of my plans for 2020.
As the weeks passed, I went from a desperate: we have to rethink everything, to an executive go-forward decision: we have to launch the campaign exactly as is. Growth is an endurance sport.
See it’s not perfect. The logo could be a little bit bigger, I am sure. None of us are media trained. And we could have done a lot of things differently. But this is what we did. This. Is. US. It’s what we made together, made in DC. It’s authentically and unapologetically us. It honors our values, our entrepreneurial spirits and it signals that we are sticking to our strategy, that we are here for the long-haul. It honors our individual voices.
Most importantly, our collective meaning for digital resonated before, is relevant during and will eclipse the global disaster that is COVID-19. Culture transcends crisis.
Digital is the facilitator of experiences that connect and boost people’s lives. It’s the definition I gave General Manager Kristine Rohls during my interview process on August 14, 2019. It hasn’t changed. Not once.
In a world where everyone now literally has their own definition of digital, where digital is literally changing everything around us, and fast, and where digital is literally the only way to go and to grow, this conversation is more important than ever.
In DC, and everywhere in the US, Canada, UK and soon, the rest of Europe (somebody please say Munich!) and the world.
We believe digital is in the eye of the beholder.
Find Us on Social!
For the rest of 2020, every week, we will share our DC team’s answers to one of our 3 questions via our social media channels. Follow us on Instagram @SlalomDC and on Twitter @SlalomDC. And find us on the web at www.Slalom.com.
This is Slalom: We Do Digital
Because we are in the business of people.
And because we serve our communities – our world, purposefully and better.
Let’s work together. No challenge is too big, no problem is too small. We can help. We are right here: sleeping, playing, working, isolating, teaching, contributing and living in the same communities as you, our clients and your customers.
Go ahead. Contact me.
Slalom is a modern, global consultancy. We are building a world in which everyone has the opportunity to love their work and life. We exist to help our clients reach for and realize their vision. I am head of Digital @ Slalom DC. I lead a team of strategists, creatives, researchers, technologists, data, words and doodle nerds, organizers, fanatics, thinkers and doers. We are change chasers and truth tellers. Experience, strategy, technology and transformation: our crafts, the business of people: our passion. We serve our communities – our world, purposefully and better.