Is today's Think Tank culture nothing more than impressive buzz words? Jenna Van Schoor debates the collaborative culture of design and innovation
How often do you think about the future of paper? If you work at moo.com, it’s likely to be every day. CRF’s conversation on the future of work spans all industries, having been a journalist for 13 years and scribbling my life around with paper and pens, I was naturally intrigued to speak to Chad Jennings, VP of Product at world renowned moo.com on what they believe to be the future of work, specifically paper…
Since Moo launched in 2005 they have seen a 50% rise in sales year on year. Now based across London and the US, they’ve built their reputation on offering high quality innovative print designs made accessible to millions by offering multiple options of small print runs. The world of technology has changed in that time and so have their products. In the latter end of 2015 they launched Paper+, upscaling paper and placing it back where it belonged with a digital edge.
Now, in case you weren’t aware, Paper+ is not just a business card. Order one of these and your humble business card of yesteryear gets relegated, instantly. With Paper+ the business card has been re-borne and elevated to a much higher, relevant status. It’s fairer to state that it’s a portal into expressing who you are. Allow the person you give it to to fall down your own unique rabbit hole and get them involved with your world, all via the wonder of incorporated NFC technology.
Paper is seen as such a traditional option these days with tablets and phones flying around, how have you brought tech into Moo?
We essentially look to our customers for guidance on what to create moving forwards, it was clear to see that their personal businesses and brands were very much centred around being online. We had to marry tech with our paper to flourish in the future of our work…and Paper+ was borne.
How long has Paper+ been in the making?
It’s taken two years to refine the product and ensure that it fits the Moo brand of quality and sustainability, price point and design and we’re super happy with it. Traditional NFC technology works in other products but when in paper it can be bent out of shape rendering it useless to the user. So you naturally think, okay, let’s place it on firmer card, but of course the second you start doing that, the compression from the printers is too strong and breaks the piece of technology this way. Or it gets too hot and renders the data useless as it’s unable to be transferred.
Is tech taking over Moo?
No, we’re a people place to work, definitely. Paper is our product, we have humans behind the design and we use tech and science for everything else. It’s an exciting place to work as we’re marrying these three elements together all the time whilst keeping them distinguished from one another. From digital printing to software apps to experimenting and designing the new wave of technology infused paper in our Paper+ range.
What was really important with the technology of the NFC project?
At Moo we never use technology for technology’s sake – there has to be a very real problem for us to fix in an optimum user-friendly way. So we took our time with Paper+ and delved deeply into what our customer would be using it for, taking note of how the technology around us affects our everyday lives. This was a massively important component in the research of Paper+ because we wanted to add to the digital experience. Not just blend in, we wanted people to use it to better their lives in really creative ways.
This sounds promising. What has the world of creatives shown you?
It’s been so inspiring seeing how the world has taken to the advance, although we’re fortunate in a big way that due to being a design-led company, a lot of our customers are incredibly inspiring to start with. We applaud them, it allows us to be even more creative.
It’s an awesome platform for any creative person to share their skills and vision with the world. We’ve had artists create interactive installations with the technology to singer/songwriters loading up their Soundcloud portfolio to the cards to hand out at gigs, to name a few of the broad spectrum of options.
I’m sensing by your smile that there’s something more…
Well it’s one thing inventing the technology but the next step is to ensure that it integrates into people’s lives naturally. So naturally they wonder how they lived without it and of course for it to be used to the maximum effect.
It actually took us nearly as long to design the backend control of the NFC technology. So when you instigate it you create an account online and from that you can control the data on the chip, at any time, even to the extent whereby you can enable an instant tweet when it’s connected. Great for promotions and brand awareness.
Ah so this isn’t just a one time thing like handing over a USB stick?
Exactly, you can update the contents daily if you wished. So by giving out one card you can alert your card holder to all manner of new contacts, promotions and updates to your portfolio.
I always get asked for business cards and despite the digital revolution it’s still nice to give something tangible to a new contact.
Yes, definitely. People’s brand experience is online but when their interaction is in person it’s so important to make it a meaningful exchange. We’ve known that from the start of Moo obviously with it being our focus and Paper+ was all about creating smart physical products in the world. It’s our industry, we like to stay on top of it.
You’ve also reduced the number of clicks and the time needed to get to the information…
Absolutely, the NFC is a direct link to a specific page so there is less typing and clicking all round, specifically we’ve saved an average of five/six clicks per use.
I love it. Print is not dead.
Absolutely not. We shook up the marketplace when we first launched all those years ago when digital print came out and we could offer lower print runs and the demand for it was huge, especially when it was beautifully made and high quality. Then when you add more tactile finishes to it, it becomes a work of art and an expression of who that person is. A business card isn’t just about handing over information any more, it’s about ‘you’ as a whole, as a concept it didn’t need to disappear, it just needed to adapt.
What’s next over the coming year for Moo?
A lot more of this. We will keep exploring new ways to bring the digital and technological worlds into our products so that the people using them can find that they complement their lives a whole lot more.
Sounds good to us. Looking forward to hearing the next instalment in the Moo world, whatever it may be…