Mobile Reporting and Your Sixth Sense

Last month, we released a mobile version of our reporting site. Our clients can now get real-time stats about their operation on their phones. The site is simple. On the Call Center side, it returns total minutes, total number of calls both inbound and outbound, average call length and number of emails answered. On the Fulfillment side, it returns orders shipped, orders at the warehouse, orders on hold and backorders.

As a designer, I love simplicity. Designing for mobile devices is satisfying because their small-format demands simplicity. The mobile reporting site isn’t robust, it isn’t super granular, it’s a quick snapshot of your business at a given point in the day. And that is its strength.

This is a quote from Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, on how he uses the micro-blogging service:

“I definitely spend way more time reading tweets than writing tweets. The first thing I do in the morning when I’m waking up is, I reach over and grab my iPhone and I just start scanning through tweets. What it does for me — I know right away that if something big is going on, in the world or in my area, someone will have tweeted about it. If nothing big is going on, at the very least I’m being reminded that people are up and doing things. For me, looking at tweets first thing in the morning is kind of like caffeine. It sort of makes me realize other co-workers are up, getting coffee, driving to work, etc. I better get out of bed. All through the day, I’m checking Twitter and seeing what people are saying about certain things. I’m clicking on the trends and the sidebar to figure out why this particular celebrity or phrase is in the trends right now. And then I’m tweeting maybe once a day, maybe every couple of days. I’m an infrequent tweeter. I’m more of a consumer of the information that’s coursing through the system.”

You can find the full article on NPR.

I think the big potential for the mobile reporting site is similar to what Biz describes above. A quick update in the morning gets your brain going before you caffeinate. It lets you know if anything out of the ordinary has happened. Because it’s so quick to access, you can check the mobile reporting site throughout the day. As you do that, you begin to develop a sixth sense about your business. You know what to expect, when to expect it, and you begin developing an intuition on how to optimize it. As you start testing new strategies, the mobile reporting site allows you to track their effectiveness quickly and efficiently.

If you’re a One World client, you can access the mobile reporting site by pointing your mobile browser to m.owd.com Log in with the same username and password that you use for the One World Extranet. If you have any questions or suggestions for making the site better, please get in touch.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

The Circadian Rhythms of Productivity

If I arrive at the office at nine, my battleship is already sunk. Why? Because everybody gets to the office at nine. And they start sending emails and making phone calls and all of a sudden, the time I thought I had for the things on my to-do list is gone.

If you take a look at your list, I’m sure you’ll say, “everything on here is important.” But if you really look, chances are there’s one thing that has the potential to cause more impact than anything else on that list. And chances are it’s the hardest thing to do on that list. Because it has that big potential, it’s going to require the most thinking, the most effort, the most courage. So, if you’re going to get it done, and get it done well, you’re going to need a block of uninterrupted time where you are clear-headed and full of energy. And the most probable candidates for that are early morning and late night.

Late night is risky though. Staying up late makes it tough to wake up on time the next day. Your schedule becomes unpredictable. You might have a fantastically productive night but work so long that the next day gets thrown off. And that has a domino effect. Before you know it, you’ve been running at 50% for a full week.

If you start early in the morning however, it’s more difficult to work too long. It’s much easier to maintain a regular schedule. And the key to long term success is consistency. On my best days, I wake up at 6:30, start working at 7 and ignore my email until 9:30 or 10:00.

One more thing, Five Hour Energy. You’ve seen the commercials where they talk about the proverbial “2:30 crash.” If you’re a factory worker, you might legitimately need physical energy at 2:30 in the afternoon to get through your shift. But if you think for a living, chances are what you need is to get out of the office. You can stand on an assembly line and work effectively for eight straight hours. You can’t sit at a laptop and think effectively for eight straight hours.

And this is where getting up early becomes an even bigger bonus. If I work from 7AM until 3PM, I’ve already put in an eight hour day. At that point I can leave the office, do something to get recharged, and then work another hour or two before dinner. Not only are those last two hours more effective because I’m fresh, I’m also a lot less likely to be interrupted later in the day.

I still have some days that start at 9AM (and some that don’t end until the wee hours of the morning) but learning to work with the circadian rhythms of productivity and prioritize the most impactful project has made a big difference for me. Here’s to your continued success.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

Quality vs Quantity: Talking Website Strategy

As the Creative Director at One World, I am sometimes asked why we put so much emphasis on branding when we build websites. Shouldn’t we spend our time writing a bunch of content and getting as many pages as possible on the site? While it’s true that having lots of content boosts your search engine rankings and helps you get more visitors to your site, visitors aren’t the end goal, clients are. And clients are looking for more than information, they’re looking for a partner they feel they can trust. That is the role of branding, to create a feeling of trust.

The question isn’t “Should we focus on content or branding?” The question is “What sets us apart as a company and what kind of content will best express that to a potential customer?” But it’s not enough to give a list of facts that differentiate your company. A brand organizes those facts into a story that communicates the meaning behind them.

When I buy a cup of coffee, I’m not buying a hot brown liquid. I’m not even buying an “expertly roasted from fair trade organic beans” hot brown liquid. Describing a product and the attributes that make it better than your competitors isn’t enough. When I buy a cup of coffee, when I buy anything, I’m buying a feeling. “Fair trade organic” is a feeling, a feeling that I’m an affluent person who is doing some good in the world. I buy that cup of coffee because I want to feel alert, refreshed, wealthy and generous all at the same time. And when a brand delivers that experience to me reliably, I learn to trust that brand and become loyal to them.

How do you want your customers to feel about your company or product or service? What is the story you can tell that will give them that feeling? What are the elements of that story? Once you answer those questions, you’re well on your way to creating your brand. And then you can build content to your heart’s content with the confidence that it will land clients.

If you’d like to talk websites or brand strategy, or even high-altitude African coffees, please drop me a line.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

The Bay Lights

Last week, the city of San Francisco unveiled the world’s largest light display on the Bay Bridge. Eclipsing the lights of the Eiffel Tower, the display is comprised of 25,000 LEDs and was created by artist Leo Villareal. Knowing that the whole thing was going to be a madhouse, my wife and I got there an hour and a half early, found a bar (which was packed) and pushed our way to the front to get a couple glasses of wine while we waited. About fifteen minutes before the show was to start, we paid our tab and headed outside, where a light rain had started falling. Not a big deal. This is San Francisco, we deal with rain all the time. Besides, history was being made.

I recorded the event. About five minutes into the video, you hear me say to Bianca, “We aren’t watching an historic light show, we’re watching people leave an historic light show.” The intricately coordinated movements of the lights couldn’t compete with the simple directional motion of a plaza full of people emptying out in a five minute period. I was stunned.

My first thought was sympathy for the artist. My second thought was, “This wouldn’t have happened one hundred years ago.” If it had been 1913, people would have stood through small hail to watch a spectacle as momentous as this. My third thought was marketing. This is the world we live in, a world where record-setting displays and eight million dollar installations can be overshadowed by a little rain. If that is the case, then what are the stakes for your next product launch or marketing campaign? How far do you have to go to hold people’s attention?

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

The Russians are coming!!

They claimed to be ecommerce entrepreneurs from Russia who were eager to visit our fulfillment centers in California and South Dakota. They said they had started a call center and order fulfillment business in Moscow and wanted our advice. But I knew better. They weren’t going to fool me – not this guy. Instinct told me they were KGB. Probably chain smoking, vodka swilling secret agents who, due to hard living, looked 58, even though they were 28. Their eyes would be steely, surrounded by tired, dark circles attributed to endless training and nightly espionage missions. They’d be fit – Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV kind of fit.

Thanks to a panoply of 80s Cold War Movies, I knew all about Russians. Who can forget Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing his way through White Nights? Or Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer facing down Soviet pilots in Top Gun? And what about Patrick Swayze fighting off Ruskie invaders in Red Dawn! (That. Was. A w e s o m e)

So, the Russians were coming, eh? Bring it on. In my star spangled ballet tights and leather bomber jacket, I’d be ready.

While I was prepared for visitors from the 80s, I wasn’t prepared for our Russian guests of 2013. They were young (so young). Eager. Smart (so smart). Well dressed. Informed. Worldly. Fit (why so fit?). Multi-lingual, and so nice. Our Russians looked more like cosmopolitan Swedes than cold-blooded, freedom-hating commies.

To further challenge my decades-old stereotypes, “our Russians” informed me that they don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t eat meat. In fact, they are kinda Buddhist-ey. They’ve seen what hard living has done to past generations and they want no part of it. Communism? Not so much. This trio has their very own venture capital funding.

Damn that Tom Friedman and his flat world! Can’t I be left to my stereotypes? They’re such time savers.

It turns out that Aleksey, Valentina and Alexander came up with the idea to start a fulfillment and call center company in Russia. It’s called Quadra. They found One World Direct on-line and felt validated to see that somebody else was doing similar work. They knew our web site inside and out, and quoted our videos verbatim. In short, they knew their stuff and had done their homework.

What did I learn, you ask? I learned that my muffin top doesn’t look so great in tights. Beyond that, however, I learned a lot about ecommerce in Russia.

With credit card holders totaling only about 5% of the Russian population, getting paid is tough. As a result, COD deliveries are very common. In addition, postal regulations add a layer of complexity in that somebody has to be there to accept parcels. Worse, multiple delivery attempts incur additional charges that sometimes put the order in the red. Placing an order on the phone? Great. After you hang up, you’ll get a call validating that you made the order in the first place – more overhead. UPS, DHL, FedEx? Here and there, but spotty.

Their visit brought perspective. As Americans, it feels like the Web has been around forever. After all, there are college grads who can’t remember a world without it. But, in many parts of the world, Web connectivity isn’t assumed, and the infrastructure that makes ecommerce happen is still in its nascent stages. Globally, ecommerce is still a toddler.

Perhaps most importantly, I was reminded of the “world wide” aspect of the Web. There, in a multi-media call center in middle-of-nowhere South Dakota, were three hip, young Russian ecommerce pioneers eager to collaborate with their new American friends. All it took was access to information through the Web.

I flashed back to my days in elementary school in the 1970s. In those days, “the Russians are coming” meant something else entirely, as in, “dive under your desk!”

So, with all due respects to Mr. Swayze (RIP), and so many other Hollywood stars who educated me throughout the Cold War, the Russians are coming – coming to do business. And they’re delightful.

Thomas E. Unterseher
Co-Founder & CEO
One World Direct
www.owd.com

What Color Should We Use? Part 1

Color is a highly subjective thing, but there are some general guidelines you can use in the context of branding. Here’s a series of questions that will help you narrow down your color options to a manageable set of choices.

Warm colors, red, orange and yellow, feel more aggressive. They build tension, especially in large amounts. Do you want to build tension with your color palette? Pontiac sells excitement, their logo is red.

Cool colors, blues, greens and purples, feel calming. They reduce tension. Do you want people to feel relaxed or secure? Volvo sells safety, their logo is blue.

Bright colors reach out and grab people. They’re appropriate for companies with an extroverted brand personality like Kate Spade.

Soft colors feel more friendly and inviting. Twitter and Skype both use a soft blue to encourage an open, conversational feeling.

Earthy colors, in addition to suggesting eco-consciousness, can suggest a level of ruggedness, like Land Rover’s hunter green.

Most companies hang their hat on a single color, Tiffany blue, Coke red, etc. But occasionally a company will use a multi-color logo like google or ebay. Would using a group of colors help convey your brand promise or set you apart from your competition in a significant way?

In the end, I think the most effective question you can ask is “How do you want people to feel about your brand?” and then identify the color or colors that support that.

In my next post, I’ll go color by color and give an example of a company that has used that color and the reason it works. If you’d like to talk color theory, branding, or anything else related to design, send me an email. My address is below.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

What Color Should We Use? Part 2

It’s no coincidence that Burger King, Wendys, McDonalds, Coke and Pepsi all use red. Studies show that red stimulates hunger and thirst.

Amazon uses just a touch of orange to give a friendly warmth to its logo, which supports its brand message of being helpful and convenient.

Yellow is a unique color because it never gets too dark. This makes it perfect for the Yellow Pages. If you wanted to print on blue pages or red pages, you’d have to use a pastel tint of these colors to make them light enough for the print to be legible. But the yellow used on yellow pages looks crisp and bright and still makes for easy reading.

The color green exploded in use when sustainability was the big buzzword. Companies had to choose between not using green (which risks not looking eco-conscious) or using green (which risks looking like a “me too” brand.)

Most people say blue is their favorite color and informal surveys show that blue is probably the most common logo color, but I don’t think blue would be the right color for a company like Ferrari or someone hoping to compete with IBM.

Virgin Airlines wants to market themselves as being unique and luxurious in the airline industry. Purple accomplishes both of those goals.

Brown is a tough color because we have some unfortunate associations with it. But it works for UPS because it relates to boxes and they use it in a way that makes it feel uniformed and buttoned up. When you have a brand attribute that’s potentially hazardous, the best thing to do is to own it, which UPS has done with their “What can brown do for you?” tagline.

Black is severe. That works in high fashion, where people want to be extreme and take what they do very seriously. It probably wouldn’t work for a company selling baby food.

Apple’s 6-color logo worked in the eighties. Its playful expressiveness set them apart from staid, conservative IBM. But in the nineties, the computer industry had changed drastically. Apple needed a new strategy and an identity that communicated it. Silver helped Apple convey their new message of “premium.”

I love talking color theory and how it can be part of a rebranding campaign. If you have any questions, send me an email. My address is below.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

The Final 10%

Almost every project I’ve ever worked on has faced challenges or delays at some point. Often, the assumptions we make at the beginning of the project turn out to be wrong, or we create what we thought would be the right solution and discover that it doesn’t work. Finally, we reach a place where we have evaluated, reevaluated, and made difficult decisions in the face of impending deadlines. The enthusiasm we had when the project began has been eroded by the collective disappointments and frustrations we faced along the way. We now have a limited time to finish and a limited amount of energy to finish with. This is the phase of a project I call “The Final 10%” and it’s the difference between average and great.

At this point, it’s easy to take a “just get this thing finished” approach without realizing it. When you’re worn out, it’s hard to realize that you aren’t giving your all because everything feels daunting. But if you’re well-prepared for the Final 10%, you aren’t tired at the end of the race, you’re energized. You knew there would be obstacles along the way and you were ready for them. You used setbacks as fuel, as a way to get even more excited about transforming the initial ideas you had into something more powerful than you could foresee at the beginning. With this approach, the Final 10% brings out your best. You see it as an opportunity to apply everything you’ve learned along the way to create something great in the time you have left.

Matthew Wyne
Creative Director

New look for One World Direct

Last week, One World Direct launched a newly updated web site with a new logo. Please check it out at www.owd.com.

I thought I’d share with you the reasoning behind changing our logo and updating our site.

Like all of our clients, One World is focused on building our company and our brand. A logo, while not a brand by itself, is a big part of a brand’s identity. With our previous logo – we settled. We allowed ourselves to be rushed by our graphic designers, but we never loved it. I’d look at it and wince a little bit, knowing that it wasn’t right.

The great logos: Coke, IBM, Apple, Shell Oil and others have had updates over the years, but they’ve all maintained their basic look and feel. That’s what we wanted – a logo with good bones that would stand the test of time.

In our previous logo, the word “Direct” was small and diminished, which is wrong – we’re all about Direct commerce. The art deco typeface was too precious and inconsistent with typefaces used on the site and in our daily business. The colors weren’t consistent with our look/feel, either. Overall, it just didn’t fit.

This time around, I chose my graphic designer very slowly. After talking to a lot of people, I finally met a designer who had a different take on producing our logo. He’s Matt, a self-described “brand guy” who goes far beyond graphic design. Matt dug into our brand deck and worked to understand our company’s brand attributes, which then informed his design. Hours were spent on font choices and colors and icon design. The logo itself took months. While Matt had strong ideas, he never pushed for the sake of being finished. He was always listening, trying to understand the company’s attributes and how they informed his design work.

We went down every path with our logo – dozens of designs were considered until we finally came to rest on a basic type treatment. The typeface was chosen because it’s strong and simple. The “O” is a perfect circle – a globe – an acknowledgement of our previous logos and the global aspirations of our company. The tangerine pointer inside the “O Globe” was the final element. The pointer has multiple meanings. For starters, it’s a pointer! It means: we have a direction; it’s pointed up for a reason – we all want to grow. Being inside the globe is a reminder of the nature of the Web – it’s world wide. The pointer inside the “O Globe” then led to a complete family of icons.

In all, it was a really long and sometimes arduous process, but I’m glad we went through it. As for Matt the Brand Guy, I liked him so much I hired him as our first Creative Director. He’ll be joining us full-time later this summer and leading our Agency division. More on that in the months to come.

Thomas E. Unterseher
Co-Founder & CEO
One World Direct
www.owd.com

Los Angeles Fulfillment Center Opens!

Some people love that “new car smell.” For others, tearing the wrapping paper off of a spectacularly wrapped birthday present provides a thrill. And for some (you know who you are, wife), satisfaction comes in a little robin-egg blue Tiffany box. But for me, nothing matches the excitement of taking the keys to a new fulfillment center! I just love to walk in, smell the new carpet, hear the enormous echo of an empty building and imagine shiny pallet racking filling the space. Yes, I know . . . I’m a nerd.

One World Direct has expanded! We now have a Los Angeles area order fulfillment center that is fully operational. We’re in Ontario, to be precise, a couple of miles from the UPS hub and only a minute off of the 10 Frwy.

This expansion was months in the making. Our VP of IT, Stewart Buskirk, directed his team to completely standardize our fulfillment systems. Because our IT staff believes me to be dangerous to myself and others, they color coded, simplified and otherwise dummie-proofed our systems. It worked. I was able to ruin nothing during the set-up of our IT infrastructure. More impressively – it all works exactly as they promised it would.

Karen Torevell, our Controller, joined us for nearly three weeks to prep the building and prepare for Parcel #1. She has been tireless in organizing and executing – our Jill of All Trades.

Gail Baumann, a fulfillment specialist from Mobridge, and Kyle Baumann, the manager of our Mobridge facility, led the client transition team. They started in Oakland on a Friday night and hit Ontario on Sunday morning with two trucks. It was a flurry of activity that included a nearly 100 hour week!

Chris Dominguez, our LA Manager, spent a month in South Dakota training and preparing to launch the new Southern California facility. It’s been a baptism by fire for Chris, but he’s been game throughout the process.

On November 2nd, we shipped our first parcel. Within no time, that number hit 1,000.

Thank you, team. What do you say we do it again? Maybe next time on the East Coast.