APW Logo: Calm In the Eye of the Storm

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Administrative professionals are often at a loss to explain to others what they do. I've heard or read this complaint many times from IAAP members. There are several reasons why this is the case. For one thing, the term "administrative professional" encompasses many, many different job titles: office administrator, assistant or coordinator; executive or personal assistant; secretary and receptionist, just to name a few.

Add to that the sheer number of tasks these professionals perform every day. They adeptly jump from work involving technology, finance, customer services, logistics, contractors, the law, health care, human resources, taxes and government regulations all in one day and without blinking a well-trained eye. They unlock the front door in the morning and are the last to leave at the end of the day. Nothing happens in your business that doesn’t in some way cross their desks.

Finally, there's the secretary stereotype that's still very common in popular culture. The objectified "office wife" of 50 years ago has maintained a remarkably long shelf live in TV and the movies. Do a Google image search of the world "secretary" and you'll see what I mean.

It's no wonder there's confusion in the general public. Some administrative professionals are even disrespected by their own managers and co-workers. That why, when it was time to create a new brand for Administrative Professionals Week, the creative team at IAAP decided to take a risk, step outside the cubicle walls and produce a design that would encompass the essential, complex work done by administrative professionals. We were determined to lead a campaign that will redefine the image and value of administrative professionals in the larger culture. We set out to capture in one image the fact that administrative professionals are full members of their office teams along with managers, executives, specialists and creatives.

That meant that we had to abandon concrete images like computers, typewriters, pens, copy machines or desks. Your work is hardly defined by any of those things. Instead, we focused on the one thing that administrative professionals do better than anyone else: build bridges. They link all of the disparate, often chaotic elements of modern business into a unified and  productive whole.

administrative professionals anticipate needs, connect stakeholders, track details, deliver results and ensure that business gets done. When resources are stretched, they find solutions. When roadblocks appear, they build workarounds. They ensure that projects end on time and under budget. When their executive gets a new smartphone or tablet, they figure out how to use it. When a meeting goes too long and off topic, they make sense of it. When they have two dozen team members on three continents meeting remotely with a client, they schedule the event, invite the participants, master the application, record what’s said and summarize the results.

The resulting APW logo, seen above, is abstract. But that's because the work you do isn't simple. It can't be defined by an easily imbibed image. We want people to think about the complex, challenging and technical tasks you complete every day. We want to spark some conversations. If somebody asks you what the new APW logo means, I suggest you simply reply: "It means that I'm the calm in the business storm. I get the job done."

As we approach APW 2013, embrace the challenges and value of your work. Don't let others define your job as anything less than essential for your employer. Be proud. You've earned a place with the office team.