The Name Game

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Changing people’s behaviour can be really difficult, but I think I have a tip.

At my last job, there was a copywriter called Claire. Aside from being an excellent writer, she also liked to keep fit and bake healthy snacks.

To encourage people to take part in her favourite pastimes, Claire launched two internal projects: Healthy Bake Off and Run Club.

Up to this point, no one ran at lunchtime or brought in cake for everyone. But just two weeks after these ideas were floated, we had a gang of lunch runners and weekly cake makers. 

Claire created a movement, albeit a small one. And she did it, by giving her projects a name.

Naming stuff has several benefits:

Firstly, it gives you something that you can tell people about, who in turn tell others.

Secondly, it gives you something you can invite people to take part in.

And finally, it sets in motion a sense of expectancy. A commitment to continuing your ‘thing’ – whatever that thing might be.

It works for the biggest companies in the world.

Think, Orange Wednesdays, Super Sundays and Two for Tuesdays.

And it could work for you. Are you a…

Developer – why not launch HackNY?

Musician – how about Boiler Room?

Designer – maybe 30 days of type?

Okay, all these examples already exist, but you get my point.

You can even have fun with it. That’s how… Planking, Slut Dropping, Twerking, Owling, Photo Bombing, Horse Manning, Stocking, Milking, Neck Nominating, Lion Kinging, Cat Breading, Cinnamon Challenging, Draping, Dog Shaming, Harlem Shaking, Hadoukening and every other internet fad started.

If you ever manage to get to this last sentence, my point still stands.

Changing behaviour often starts with a name. Because when you give something a name, it’s easily shared.

So start naming, and see what behaviours you can create in the world.

Ricky Richards