Has the WeWork bubble burst?

WeWork: A brand consultant's perspective

The embattled tech and community management behemoth may be teetering on oblivion, but WeWork is also the story of an extremely successful brand exercise.


Updates: 
22 November 2019, Friday, 11:48 am (GMT+8): WeWork begins laying off 2,400 employees.

04 November 2019, Monday, 6:06 pm (GMT+8): Neumann accepts SoftBank’s offer of US$9.5 billion to WeWork including new debt and recommitted equity, as well as a tender offer to partly cash out Neumann and other shareholders. JPMorgan’s offer was not taken.


The brand has always been about celebrating an individualistic mindset even as it espouses the benefits of networking and creating holistic communities.  

Here’s what we believe WeWork got right as far as its brand is concerned: 

1. An impactful and memorable name
We Work = WeWork. This is an affirmative statement, a vote of confidence in itself. The moniker directly references the company's key offering of great workspaces. It is alliterative, making it impactful and memorable.

WeWork NYC Houston courtesy WeWorkImage courtesy of WeWork

 

2. Audacious vision
WeWork's Co-founder and ex-CEO, Adam Neumann, did not believe in modesty. The company's prospectus states, "We are a community company committed to maximum global impact. Our mission is to elevate the world’s consciousness.” There is a further dedication to “the energy of we–greater than any of us but inside all of us". Bold and brazen statements fire the imagination and capture attention: they are sexy.

adamneumann WeWork, Courtesy VanityFairImage courtesy of VanityFair

 

3. Undeniable appeal to investors, market and consumers
The firm's exponential rate of expansion was fuelled by tangible offerings: the acquisition (on long-term leases) of sites in the most desirable locations of the world's key business cities; outfitting them into flexible, appealing workspaces, that synced with a millennial zeitgeist. This drew investors and consumers alike, fuelling an escalation of confidence in the brand's success.

WeWork Hibiya Park, courtesy WeWorkImage courtesy of WeWork

 

Yet, a great brand can only get so far. Neumann's alleged self-dealing, management lapses and eccentricities have been exposed, creating a perfect meltdown at the point that WeWork filed for public offering.

 

Other image Credits: Getty Images, Bizjournals

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