During the internet of things when it’s all digital all the time, why do business cards continue to matter? Can’t we just use an app to tell people who we are, to exchange information? What about connecting business cards to digital experiences, or having an app that is essentially a business card?
MOO, a company synonymous with business cards, has the answers. Chad Jennings, VP, product and design at MOO, took part in a Q&A to discuss where business cards have been and where they’re going, as well as what products MOO offers for designers and non-designers.
How does MOO appeal to the general public (who may not know design), as well as serious design professionals? What products speak to both of those demographics, or what individual products speak to each demographic specifically?
We aim to make great design accessible to all. Many of our customers really love our wide breadth of curated templates, some designed by members of the the design community themselves, and themes to fit different industries, styles and preferences that we update regularly. We also find design professionals who browse our MOO Designs for inspiration and ideas. The Luxe Collection, with its statement look and feel, really appeals to design professionals. On the other hand, the Tailored Collection has received great reviews across the board, as it allows our customers to really turn up the wow factor on their cards with gold foil, spot gloss and raised spot gloss.
Why might designers consider MOO to be too simple and not for them, perhaps even limiting, and what would help change their minds?
We work with a really wide range of customers, some are professional designers looking for a partner that can bring to life their beautiful work with the ease and speed of an online service, while some are people looking to make the very first step in starting their own business, with no design skills whatsoever. We aim to cater to people across the spectrum and believe strongly in empowering both designers and non-designers to use high quality brand collateral to grow their business.
Professional designers make up a significant part of our customer base. We offer a full upload option so designers can use their tool of choice and there are many additional benefits of choosing MOO. Some customers appreciate our speedier options in turnaround times, others love our packaging. Many appreciate the hands-on help they get from our award-winning customer service team. Others appreciate our content channels, where we provide support for businesses of all sizes and inspiration by showcasing the creativity of our customers. But we also pride ourselves on being inventive. Printfinity™ enables customers to print a different photo or design on every card or sticker, and we also continue to add to our suite of products including square business cards, rounded corners, spot gloss and gold foil. And that is even before we get onto our digital projects such as Monogram, our new mobile first portfolio app.
How does the element of play come through in MOO products, and how does MOO deliver that to its customers, and the people who receive their cards?
A sense of professional playfulness and delight is an important aspect of our brand and culture at MOO. You will find this in our conversational brand voice. For example, there is something we call a “top card” which helps our manufacturing team track your order during printing, but we include it in the order with fun phrases such as “you have cool hair” with a note to pass along. We also tend to hide little bits of delight within our packaging. Every package tends to have a hidden message—as an example, our new NFC-enabled Business Cards+ packaging has a subtle note on the bottom of the box in clear spot gloss which says “print is dead, long live print!” My favorite is that we send a cake on our one-year anniversary to our enterprise customers such as Slack, BuzzFeed and Google. We aim to make sure that everything we do is human, so whether our customers are interacting with our customer service team or looking out for us on Twitter or Instagram, we aim to be approachable.
MOO’s been criticized for selling letterpress cards that are not letterpress, although they are less expensive than real letterpress. Purists won’t have them. Why should people give them a chance, and consider them a good alternative to true letterpress cards?
I think our Letterpress product is a good example of focus on innovation and on making great design accessible to all. To that end, it it is not for everyone, especially those that have the design skills and budget to work with a bespoke provider. Although we are not an artisan print company our Letterpress uses the same techniques. The difference with MOO Letterpress is that we combine the benefits of digital print. Printed on a fixed template, what that means for our customers is that they can get the benefits of things like Printfinity combined with Letterpress and so can achieve creative results for a significantly lower price. We offer Premium Luxe paper stock which gives a really tactile result and also have a range of designs that can be paired with a blind deboss or ink. We understand some customers might be looking for something different and hand pressed and that is just fine. For us it is about getting a great result at an accessible price point.
With the release of Monogram, MOO has its feet squarely in the digital realm of portfolios and presentations. MOO’s Business Cards+ also entered the digital realm. Are these new offerings a way of preparing for the time when print becomes less valued than it already is? How would you reply to some people who might call these digital products of yours a defensive move, that’s more reactionary?
We love print! It still represents the majority of our business, and is a trillion-dollar industry in the U.S. alone, but it is worth noting our mission as a company is broader than print—we are also in the business of helping small and large businesses present themselves, look their best, and stand out from the crowd through brand identity. Monogram and Business Cards+ are very natural extensions of that core strength translated to products that cross into the digital space.
We are still a relatively small business ourselves and innovation is how we stay ahead of the big corporations in our market. We have been blown away seeing how designers and photographers have been using our Monogram app to share their work and brand stories in ways we had never imagined. As a business we are continuing to grow which indicates that a desire for printed materials even in this digital age is not going away, and we are excited about the opportunities that come from combining the two.
The Tailored line on the other hand, is all about print, all about MOO doing what it’s known for: delivering a solid, high-quality print product. How did MOO’s experience with digital products, such as Monogram and Business Cards+, prepare MOO for Tailored?
It was really important for us to only launch the Tailored Collection when we were confident we could offer exceptional print finishes without compromising on quality. Again though our customers can benefit from Printfinity here, so we are still combining the benefits of digital with the beauty of gold foil, spot gloss and raised spot gloss. Historically to get access to these finishes and to still achieve a quality result, customers would have had to visit a bespoke printer. We have managed to democratize great design by making these finishes accessible and broadening the choice for our customers.
Given the emphasis on user experience (UX, especially digital UX), why do business cards continue to matter, or why do they matter more?
We have been going for 10 years, growing consistently over this period, and business cards make up a larger proportion of our business than our other products. They are an evergreen technology and continue to be a key identity and brand tool for businesses. It is worth considering that for very small businesses looking to market themselves, it is not always about buying advertising and keywords. Along with their websites, business cards and printed paper products are how people market themselves and their services. There is a certain ceremony when two people meet for business, the sharing of business cards is part of that etiquette no matter what size your company is, and there is always pride taken in the passing on of a business card, especially if that design, the texture of the card or your title is something that you have worked hard to achieve. Exchanging business cards has long been about much more than sharing information or contact details. It is about creating a meaningful connection with another person, differentiating your business or ideas in an increasingly noisy marketplace, and communicating your brand story.
What kinds of changes in printing and print technology are on the horizon, and what offerings can consumers expect from MOO?
It is really important for us, as a business, that we continue to invent in order to distinguish ourselves from our competitors. We are always looking at our product offerings and processes to see what we can do better. We have a full time product team traveling the world, meeting new suppliers and taking inspiration from diverse influencers and sectors. At the moment, having just launched Monogram, we are looking at ways that we can further embed its use in creative professional circles. With thousands of users already, we are anticipating that over time creating and sharing Monograms will become habitual and familiar and we are creating content to help inform those communities.
Meanwhile we are seeing wider adoption of Business Cards+ and we are developing ways to get around NFC not being unlocked by Apple. For example, we created the first NFC-enabled hospitality area at SXSW, where guests could take their card to various NFC activation points around the venue to get access to special features and areas. Whether it is NFC, printed electronics or nano-inks, the digital and physical worlds will continue to be linked more closely together. We feel the trend towards an “internet of things” will impact and disrupt the paper and packaging industry as it will many others. MOO needs to be a leader in creating meaningful, useful products and services. It is this Lab approach that we are excited about continuing well into the future to see where it leads.