An effortless digital to-do list with a manager’s brain

by Youri Sawerschel , 6 June 2018

Facebook Co-Founder Dustin Moskovitz and Google alumni Justin Rosenstein had been working together at Facebook on improving the productivity of employees when they left in 2008 to start a new company together – Asana. Asana is now valued at $900 million and boasts 30,000 teams using its service.

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Asana is a project management software that helps teams organize, track, and manage their work. Basically, it is about making teams and employees more productive, efficient and effective. But, with these buzzwords becoming so overused and beginning to look more and more dehumanising, the team at Asana knew they needed a branding strategy that would make them stand out.

So, instead of ‘improving your team’s productivity’, Asana’s company mission is ‘to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.’ Making ‘work together effortless’ and helping ‘humanity thrive’ – these are aspirations everyone can share. And thus a connection between Asana, your own company, and all the employees in it is made on an emotional and human level. Quite the opposite of the dehumanising tone adopted by so many in the market.

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The branding of Asana, the word itself being Sanskrit for ‘yoga pose’, strikes a good balance between the practical and the aspirational. The website, itself minimalist and calming, clarifies certain functions of the software: making sure ‘responsibilities and next steps are clear,’ that ‘your team know who is doing what, by when.’ But these practical statements are interspersed with quirky inspirational slogans: ‘So you can shoot for the moon—and get there.’ ‘We’re empowering teams to do great things together.’ It creates confidence in the software, but also in the ethos and the aspirations behind it.

Asana’s plans for the future are made quite clear: Piggy-backing on the AI trend, they envision utilising intelligent predictive tools to further minimise the amount of administrative tasks for employees. The team at Asana recognise certain trepidations people have about AI taking human jobs, so again they concentrate their focus; on how AI should be used to do the specific jobs that we don’t want to. The jobs that distract us from our real work. And free us to do the jobs that we are passionate about. The parts that Rosenstein describes as ‘intrinsically human.’

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Asana’s focus on admirable aspirations over dehumanising words like productivity and efficiency leverages the fact that we all want our work to have some bigger and better purpose. It is a universal and a timeless desire that won’t change. With the introduction of AI, however, the work place and the whole way in which we work is likely to change dramatically. It will be the ability to remain versatile and adapt quickly to these changes that will shape Asana’s future. But with strong branding that holds a universal appeal, they couldn’t be in a better position from which to do so.

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Picture credit: © Asana