PINK UP YOUR LIFE!

Some time ago I bought a book by the title of Pink Up Your Life!: The World of Pink Design. Although I am not a great fan of this colour I fell for the design of the book.

So this article is about the combination of classic design and pink.

1919. A lady made of (pink) Steel.

In 1919 the iconic – and probably revolutionary at the time – stand mixer Kitchen Aid was born. If only I took a little of pride in my housewife skills I am sure I would own one. Well, I rather spend a fortune for a posh and stylish espresso machine.

However, if you think of 1919 what sort of colours would you associate with it? I thought of black, white and maybe grey or beige. As it seems I am totally wrong. It was and is to this day available in light pink. I guess it makes household chores sweeter.

1919. A fast car.

Bentley Motors Limited was founded by W. O. Bentley in 1919 in Cricklewood, North London. The founder himself was a keen race driver and the brand became known by winning the 24 Hours of Lemans several times between 1924 and 1930.

Cars at that time were typically black and the British racing cars were of course British racing green. Classic cars can also be white, silver or beige.

But in 2009 Mansory Design & Holding designed this:

The bad news is that such cars actually exist. The model is called «Mansory Vitesse Rosé». The good part: they are limited edition.

1955: The Ant.

Arne Jacobsen designed “the ant” also known as the “series 7” in 1955. The chair that was originally meant for a cantina became a classic and secured him a “seat” in the first class designer lounge.

As far as I can see it was available in a variety of colours. However, for the 60st anniversary of the design two new models were developed.

One in dark blue. The other one in pale pink. With a twist. The legs are 24 carat gold plated.

Pink For Everyone?

It seems to me that pink polarises more than any other colour. It is seen as playful or shocking. If you see the world through pink glasses you are considered non-realistic and if you wear it as a ribbon you fight against breast cancer. The colour I wear most is black and I have to admit that I cannot keep up with this.

Images

The images are either from the free portal pixabay.com or scanned from the book mentioned above.

WHAT TRAINS CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT COMMUNICATION.

Last weekend I visited friends in Frankfurt, Germany. I travelled by train which takes only about 4 hours.

On Saturday noon I arrived in Frankfurt where I had a great time with sunny weather, good food and great company. Frankfurt may not be the most beautiful city in Germany but certainly one that offers a high quality of life. Along the bank of the river Main there is a street that allows bikers and walkers to enjoy a beautiful view on the river, on the barges which seem to glide on it and at the skyline. Besides all the advantages a city offers.

On Sunday evening around 5 pm I boarded the train home and expected to be at home by around 9 pm. Big mistake.

About an hour and a half later we were arrived – as planned – in Karlsruhe but were informed that a storm had destroyed the contact line in city called Offenburg which was the next stop. Moreover, we were told that we would go to Offenburg in any case and there would be busses to take us further.

The way between Offenburg and Basel where I was supposed to change trains for Zurich was apparently blocked and they were working on the problem. Not fun but these things happen and it is nobody’s fault.

And the Odyssey begins

  • 6.20 pm:
    Arrival in Karlsruhe – First information about the problem and the promise that we would go to Offenburg
  • 7 pm:
    Still in Karlsruhe – Second information to please leave the train as we could not go further. Busses should be available but not to places I ever heard of. Apparently I was not the only one, since the queue in front of the information desk was nearly endless. To make matters worse my mobile connection was exceptionally bad and I could not access the internet. I texted my friend back in Frankfurt to check the possibilities. They looked not too bad and my friend’s moral support was really helpful.
  • 8 pm:
    The loudspeaker at the station in Karlsruhe informed us that there was a train (the types that stop in every second village) that would take us to Offenburg and later pass the black forest (a name well deserved in my opinion) to Constance which is close to the Swiss border.
  • 8:45 pm:
    Still in that train, progressing slowly. No further information from the Deutsche Bahn (the German train company) but many messages back and forth between my friend an me.
  • 9 pm:
    Information by DB that they could organize a train from Offenburg to Basel as my journey had fore seen it. Cool. Boarded that train some minutes later.
  • 10 pm:
    Still in that train at the very same place. According to the information they were waiting for clearance to start. The announcements are still as if everything was normal; the arrival and departure on trains are being displayed as if nothing happens. Well, nothing happened; the announced trains of course never showed up.
  • 10 pm to midnight:
    Still in that train. No official information by the DB. The chaos is enormous. Rumour had it that there were busses, that the Red Cross opened “hotels” in train cars. Others said that the DB was giving away vouchers for taxis. I could as well sleep in my seat and the taxi drivers were as sold out as the take-away. And a trip to Zurich would have taken them too long anyway. Still in touch with my friend who informs me about the Twitter stream and other online media. Moreover, the gentleman who sat opposite me had a great and very sarcastic sense of humour and I had a good laugh.
  • 12.15 am:
    Eureka! The train moves again. We are going at normal speed towards Basel. Only one stop in Freiburg, Germany.
  • 01.30 am:
    Basel; well, still on the German side but not too bad. My “entertainer” (I don’t even know his name) has arrived since he lives near Basel. I need to get home.Another official announcement: Travellers to Switzerland and some German places get taxi vouchers. Correct. They are organising groups of people with the same destination so they can share a taxi. I was lucky to share mine with a father of two children, living not far from me.
  • 02.45 am
    Home, Sweet Home.

It is all about communication

A storm is nobody’s fault. Neither is the damage resulting of it. Everybody understands that some problems cannot be solved in a heartbeat.

The crucial point is how you deal with it. From what I observed it seems to me that the crisis management was totally missing. When I looked through the window of my train waiting for clearance I observed scenes we normally see in the news about derailed trains, earthquakes and this sort of things.

I lived in Western Africa for a while and concerning the organisation of the “event” I could not detect a difference between Germany and Africa.

Some philosophers say that languages as sophisticated as ours makes us human. Use it!

The whole mess was a result of almost complete absence of information and even some misinformation. For most of the time we were not sure where and  when we go. Well, at least I know now how Odysseus must have felt during his journey. While mine took half a night his took an entire decade.

@Hillu, if you read this: Thanks again. Your support made this almost enjoyable.

INSIGHTS ON TUPPERWARE PARTIES RELOADED.

The Inventor

Earl Silas Tupper was born on a farm in New Hampshire in 1907. At the beginning of his career he worked as a farmer and a gardener. At the age of 30 he joint DuPont where he learned a lot about plastics. Only a year later he set up shop. In the 1940ies flexible plastics was a very new product.

Already in the 1930ies Tupper experimented with different kinds of plastics and found a method to fabricate an unbreakable, flexible and hygienic material whereas hitherto plastic was brittle and therefore difficult to form.

By studying covers of tin cans Tupper also found a solution for the plastic lids.

The Product

The combination of the light and flexible plastic boxes that could take different colours and shapes plus the airtight plastic lids that were easy to open made Tupperware such a success and a household name if it comes to food storage.

The Marketing Strategy

The best product will not sell if nobody knows about it. We are in the 1940ies, a long time before the internet came to life. Tupper tried to sell his invention through retailers but it did not sell well.

Tupper began to market his product on private parties that are still known (at least around here) as Tupper parties. A recommendation from one experienced housewife to another one made the success. This is called referral marketing.

Multilevel Marketing Today

I don’t know about Tupper’s compensation scheme but today, referral marketing is a multilevel marketing and each seller in the system is an independent reseller.

Think of it as a pyramid, the higher up a person is the more he or she earns. The top person (dark red in the picture below) can sell products directly and also search other resellers (lighter red, level 2) that sell products and sell other resellers and so on. The point is that only the top level players really earn money because number 1 participates at the sales of all layers below, number 2 as from layer 3 and so on. You see that if you are at level 12 you might work a lot with little reward.

I was offered such an opportunity not so long time ago. Although my level was not too bad I refused for the following reasons:

  1. I would not call this independent but rather see it as a modern form of slavery
  2. Everybody can participate in this system and in the age of digitalization I did not want my name to be mentioned with people about whose business acumen I don’t know anything
  3. Although personal contact is irreplaceable to humans and multilevel marketing might have been ok in Tupper’s time I believe that a sales strategy should look differently today. One of it is creating an emotional online experience

Have you ever participated in a referral marketing system? What is your experience?

HOW TO CREATE AN EMOTIONAL ONLINE EXPERIENCE THAT SELLS.

Being the hedonist that I am, I regularly read the news on the fashion and luxury market. One of the very hot topics is digitalization and companies’ struggle with it. During the last days the interest in digitalization got another boost since Amazon announced their ambition in fashion, launching a new service “try before you buy” and revealed that they already signed up with Nike for a strategic partnership. To me this does not sound as if Amazon intended to go for low-end products.

From my own experience I can tell that Amazon’s customer service is excellent and the shop performance is hard to beat. Yes, I know that Amazon grew up with the internet, so to speak.

From Offline to Online. A Challenge.

This cannot be said about most other retailers, let alone the fashion brands I can think of. The typical high-end brand has a long history, high quality products, a carefully built brand, committed staff that gives excellent advice and mostly a clear idea of its target audience. What you just read it the description of the off-line world and the reason I like shopping.

The online world looks sobering. The performance is too slow by far, the filtering is inconsistent. Most online shops are hardly more than a catalogue on the internet. Information on the product, delivery time, refund policy etc. are hard to find. In many cases you see them only when you are already at the shopping cart typing in your credit card number. By the way, this shocks a lot of clients and they abort the payment process.

Creating An Emotional Online Experience that Sells

Some weeks ago  I announced that I will provide some details on my CV. Well, I changed my mind since I think that it might be more useful to focus on how I can support your journey to digitalisation . But first I want to give you some information on what digitalisation could mean for your business.

Where to Start Digitalization?

A recent paper by McKinsey & Co speaks about 7 steps a CEO has to take in order to drive a successful digital transition: .

I will only discuss the two steps that seem the most important to me since I believe that the remaining ones are logical consequences of the first two which are

  1. Making Decisions
  2. Planning

Make Bold Decisions

Set Ambitions for Your Business

Where do you want your business to go? I imagine that most retailers will run physical shops despite going digital and selling their products in an online-shop. So what products should be available online? What growth to you project? Maybe every product has to be treated differently? The questions are probably similar to the ones you answered for your off-line business which you know by heart.

Look at Your Clients

Your clients are the most important people in your organisation. So you should look at them long before you look at your processes. After all you run your organisation for your customers. They have been loyal to you because of your excellent products, your brilliant service, your reputation in your industry, your tradition etc. You see where we are going to: It is your brand. Your Brand is not just the hard facts. It is an emotion. It is what I said above about the off-line world.

It is important to have a well-performing e-commerce platform, there is no doubt about this. But of even higher importance is your clients recognising your brand that gives them the feeling of comfort and quality. So you need additional features to accomplish this.

Which ones? That is certainly not a question anybody could answer without a serious analysis of your customer’s journey. The method to visualize this is called customer journey map. The following video provides some valuable information on how to do it. The most important message is: a customer journey is something “personal”. It must be shaped for your brand and your clients.

Look at Your Processes

Digitalization will change the way you work dramatically. Not everybody in your company will like this so you have to sell the solution to stakeholders and to train people.

Let’s assume for a moment that the world was only black and white.

Black would be you buy a technical solution out of the box and organise yourself around this. I know a company who did so but depending on your business’ complexity this could be too black.

White in this case is the opposite and the system would be built around your processes and behaviours. I have never seen a company that did that since it is too expensive, too time consuming and digitalisation is also a good reason to get rid of old and obsolete habits and processes that maybe do not serve your business or your clients.

Planning

Just one word about planning. Most probably you cannot digitalise everything in one go. The risk is too high since your organisation must adapt to the changes and the cost could be stretching your budget.

So you have to set priorities on what to do first and set realistic timelines. Realistic or not: projects like this always bear surprises. It is realistic to prepare for an adventure worthwhile. After all you are about to win over the clients of the next generation.

P.S. If you still need my grandmother’s first name or my birthday please drop me a line .

5 QUESTIONS TO AN ONLINE EXPERT. WORLDSERVICE.

Last week I promised you interviews. This is the first of them. Let’s be specific. It is the translation of the first interview.

FALLS SIE DEN ARTIKEL AUF DEUTSCH LESEN WOLLEN KLICKEN SIE BITTE HIER..

1. You have been developing web-applications and websites since 1996 and are constantly watching the trends. What has proved the most important change on the web within the last 5 years?

The most important trend by far is the so called responsive design? In Switzerland more than 85% of the users surf the web on their mobile devices; foremost smartphones. For that reason a correct display of a website has become even more important since it determines the first impression. As you know there is no second chance for a first impression.

2. What is responsive design really and when is it a good one?

The adaptation to the respective screen size must be seamless. No matter if the user is surfing the web by smartphone, tablet or PC the site must always look aesthetic and legible. Even images must adapt according to the total screen size.

A simple and clear navigation has always been important. Yet it has become even more important due to the limited space on a smartphone screen. It still must be easy to handle.

The content of the pages – especially texts – should be short and clear. Epic information will not be read on a smart phone.

3. You are programming software solution. Where do you specialise?

I have been focusing on online solutions for years. It is another trend that software solutions are going online. The advantages are obvious. Online solutions do not require specific hardware, operating systems or the installation of additional applications because they are accessible on your browser from anywhere you like. An online software offers more than just the administration of your data but also builds the interface to your customers. Let’s take the example of an online-shop. The shopper enters his or her data which will serve to establish an invoice or a delivery note automatically. No data transfer to another system is required.

I specialise in the development of individual solutions which are an exact match to my customer’s requirements. Thanks to many years of experience in various industries I can offer support already in the conception phase.

4. There is quite some competition in this field. What makes yous services unique?

I do not use standard products; not for web shops nor for other solutions or websites. My emphasis lies on an easy handling of the CMS systems. This is possible because they really offer exactly those functions the respective customer needs which is not the case for standard solutions.

WorldService delivers everything from one single source. Our products and solutions are developed in house at attractive prices and within the agreed timeline. This also provides the client with a high investment protection. Since I coded the solutions it is easy to programme additional features and functions if the client needs them.

5. If you could give one advice to companies or private owners who need an online solution; what would it be?

Get an expert on board right already in the conception phase of your solution. The concept determines the success of your online-solution which happens long before the coding begins. Write down a clear definition of your goals and describe your project. I happily support you.

Portrait. WorldService.

Daniel Haug is the founder and owner of WorldService and an expert for online solutions. His expertise goes back to 1996. Among others he created software solutions for the following industries:

  • Scuba diving
  • Catering
  • Automotive
  • Retail

WorldService also offers online-services to companies or individuals. All services are available on demand at very attractive conditions. Please click on the links below if you want to know more you  want to try them for free.

P.S. All websites are in German. No worries, call Daniel, he speaks English, too.

CRM System with Integrated Newsletter function

CRM easy is designed to manage address data but offers many more functions. One of it is a built in newsletter function. If you are blogging it automatically reads your blog’s RSS feed and sends your articles as newsletters at the time you determine to the target group you like.

Innovative Marketing

E-Card Tool is an ideal marketing instrument that fits in any website. You can send customised cards individually or to a target group.

3 REASONS YOUR SURVEY MIGHT NOT RETURN THE RESULTS YOU NEED AND HOW TO CORRECT THIS.

We all get online-surveys from time to time. Depending on the subject they take from two minutes to almost an hour.

If I like a brand, a product or a company I am always willing to support them and to give honest and fair feedback. But sometimes the survey is so annoying that I cannot be bothered completing it. Probably I am not alone with this symptom.

I guess there is a large percentage of people that start the survey but abort it after a very short time. From my point of view there are three key elements that should be taken into account if companies want their surveys to be completed.

What Is the Purpose of this Survey?

Typically, companies give you a more or less believable reason why they need your answer. If it is missing I will delete the e-mail straight away.

Only Ask Relevant Questions

If you are – like me – almost constantly online you cannot avoid feeding Google with a lot of records about your activities and also develop a sense of how much you want to reveal about yourself and your life. So you are careful with your answers.

I expect the questions to be relevant for purpose stated on the invitation e-mail. Recently I received a request form an e-learning platform which wanted to make sure that their suggestions are accurate to their audience’s preference.

Of course they want to know if I knew their competitors, if I studied at a University etc.

But why did they ask about my income? Of course there are many reasons this information might be of interest but not for the indicated purpose. Moreover, I thought that this is none of their business and closed the browser window.

Respect Time

“Take 3 minutes for our survey”. That’s fine and I open it. Just formulate the questions as clearly that 3 minutes will suffice to answer them. I observe quite frequently that you open the survey and find yourself confronted with 20 questions, each with 10 possible answers plus an “other reasons” field. Clearly, it will take more than three minutes with tests the users’ tolerance.

No doubt there are studies that require 45 minutes from you. If you signed up for them because after some weeks the company will share the results with you your time might be a very good investment.

If you have other aspects to be taken into account I am curious to learn about them.

HOW TO REVOLUTIONISE CORPORATE DESIGN AND STILL BE RECOGNISABLE.

“Harper’s Bazaar” was founded in 1867 as “Harper’s Bazar” (with only one A) and was the first magazine of its kind. As you already can see on the cover the mission was clear: “A repository of fashion. Pleasure and Instruction.”

The layout changed throughout the decades and somewhere in the late 1920ies or the very early 1930ies the second A appeared in the magazine’s name.

A New Face

In 1934 a young Russian by the name of Alexey Brodovitch was appointed the new art director. When he joined the company the “Harper’s Bazaar” was already a household name.

When a product is already known it is always a big risk to change the appearance since people could not recognize it anymore or – even worse – you lose your regular customers. Let’s see how Brodovitch dealt with this challenge:

Decluttering the Layout

There are some remarkable measures that made the entire magazine layout less busy and more generous looking. This was so unusual that the layouts became iconic.

The Cover

  1. A new, very sharp font was created for cover. It is the same font Harper’s Bazaar uses to this day. For the sake of perfection it was amended for a certain edition but the style was still the same.
  2. Brodovitch hired some of the best photographers for his covers
  3. The title was put as closed to the edge as only possible. This way he gained more room for the cover photo
  4. He reduced the amount of colours drastically and only worked with highlighters or he cropped the motive and put it on a white background.

The Articles

Brodovitch was the first one to use both pages for the layouts which made each of them attractive and unique as you can see on the image below.

Why Did It Work?

Personally, I believe that two main ingredients made this idea such a hit:

  1. Brodovitch was aware of his responsibility and knew of the value of the magazine. On the cover of the edition of October 1947 the name “Harper’s” is in ancient looking lettes that remind of a glamourous past
  2. He was bold enough to do something really innovative of top quality

If ever I should have such a flash of inspiration I’ll share it with you. I wish you an inspiring week.

 

2 THINGS TO CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN CORPORATE DESIGN AND IDENTITY.

I elaborated on corporate design and on corporate identity before. This time I want to present you a real example that “happened” to me last week.

The Situation

By accident I discovered a job offer for a Head of E-Commerce of a marketing agency. Everything I could see about the corporate design was really amazing and very consistent. I was thrilled and of course highly interested. Since the job offer had been published some time ago I wanted to find out if the position was still available and called this agency. This company only has about 10 employees so I figured that people know what is going on.

Here is what happened:

  • The phone was answered by the person whose name was mentioned in the job ad. Before I could finish my phrase the gentlemen informed me that he was not in charge, did not know what was going on but I should call again since Mr X who knows about it was on the phone. Moreover, if I needed the information now I had to hurry up since Mr X was about to leave for his vacation.
  • Two hours later I called again and Mr X was somewhere else again. The first gentlemen suggested I called again but I decided to ask my two questions by e-mail.
  • I sent a structured e-mail and within two hours I received an information that did not answer my questions. As if you asked for the time and got the weather forecast.
  • I thanked him and informed him at the very same time that I decided not to apply.

Analysis

Corporate identity also includes behaviour.

  • If you are a professional you do not make someone call you again but ask the person if you can call back.
  • If your company only comprises 10 people you know when your name appears in a job offer or at least know about the job. Otherwise – and that is what the first gentleman’s tone suggested – you don’t give a damn.
  • If you receive an e-mail with two structured questions you answer accordingly. If not you either make it very clear that you are not interested in the questions at all or you make a fool of yourself. In the best case both.

Summary

Corporate design is a part – and only a part – of corporate identity. If you want your company to look professional – no matter how big or small your shop is – you need people that really engage in your business. Remember, after all we speak about YOUR brand.

So from my perspective they need two things:

  1. Training/information on rules, events and processes
  2. The feeling that they and their work matters to the company.

Do you have any other measures to close this gap? I am curious to hear about it.

INSIGHTS ON THE TIGHT BONDS BETWEEN ONLINE AND OFFLINE SHOPPING

E-Commerce has conquered and revolutionized the shopping world for businesses and consumers. Hardly a newsflash, I know.

But will e-commerce eventually make physical stores obsolete? No, never! Au contraire!

I already admitted that I was possibly born to shop. So of course and in spite of my preference for digitalisation I would not want to give up the “physical shopping feeling”. Not for all the e-shops on the planet.

But after reading and pondering quite a bit on this topic I can tell that there are more reasons than my egoism to stick with physical shops.

The pleasure of physical shopping

Let’s say you intend to buy a new car, exclusive jewellery, fashion or art.

Would you buy a car without at least one test drive? If you are not buying the driver as well I guess the answer will rather be no. Before you spend money on a ten thousand dollar diamond ring or on an artwork you must have seen this piece “life”. Right?

I think we have an accord that this cannot be done in an online-shop. But what if you liked the item you just tried but you cannot make the bold decision of buying it immediately? Of course you can take your time to think again before making such an investment and go back to the shop on another day. Still, we all have a life to get on with, a job that would not allow us to shop any time we want and we have to cut out time for shopping.

The comfort of e-commerce

This is where an online-shop comes in handy. You made up your mind that you want to buy the diamond ring that you tried. You know the size you need, are confident that it suits you and just want to have it as soon as possible. If so you open your browser and buy this item online during a coffee break.

How on- and offline shopping influence each other

Now we are getting to the reasons why e-commerce can be highly beneficial for a brand’s offline-store.

If you are shopping online you can compare offers and order the best one literally from your sofa which is very comfortable. The sellers on the other hand can easily gather data to what places which products are shipped.

Apparently, some online-shop owners set up an actual physical stores at places where they receive a lot of orders from. To me this sounds very logical since in this case these front stores are also a marketing instrument and brands know where there already existing offline stores can make more business. Not to forget that a physical store is a dangerous place for consumers since they could buy more than they actually needed or would have purchased online.

POST-SALES. MAKE OR BREAK YOUR SERVICE.

After phases one and two post-sales is the third and last phase of the process. Never underestimate its power.

Does not Work? This is the End

If you live in Switzerland (like me) or in Germany you often doubt if any of the shop owners understand what service really means.

Many of us bought things on- or offline that were not perfectly working or did not keep the vendor’s promises. And we all are familiar with the problems that occur in these cases. Many vendors try to make us believe that it is our own fold that thing broke or that we are simply inapt to handle it properly. This is typically the end of a harmonious consumer-seller-relationship. Some years ago I bought a very expensive shoe from a renowned shop. Two days later (I had worn them for maybe 2 hours) there was a problem with a buckle. I went back to the shop and the shop manager looked at me with a Medusa-like look telling me that it was not her fault. Well, I did not accuse her in the first place but just asked her to get it fixed because given the price I expected this to be a warranty case. I still like the brand but since this I always buy it in a different shop.

Some shops already understand that it is not the right way to deal with clients if you want them to come back and improved their process.

The Importance of Post-Sales

Again, I come back to Amazon since I experienced post-sales to be one of their strengths. I once ordered a physical book and the postman only delivered the empty package leaving me a message that he informed the police because the content had been stolen. I informed Amazon about this and almost instantly received an answer by e-mail telling me that they just sent the book again and apologized for the inconvenience. This makes me a returning client.

From my perspective the risk of buying the wrong size or not the right fit is even higher when one buys clothes online. So it must NOT be a problem to send it back within a certain period of time without being charged.

Summary

The most important thing to attract customers is the presales phase. However, if shops want returning clients that require a minimum effort in the pre-sales phase but enter the sales process straight away they better make sure their post-sales is impeccable.

As for me I buy books and other things online for simple convenience. But I enjoy the process of shopping too much to buy everything online. In other works I can shop for the sake of shopping coming home tired and with nothing more than a new nail varnish.