When web services allowed users to customize profile pages there was a profusion of creativity. It might be a cool graphic used as a Gtalk avatar or a novel Twitter background, but frequent web users have grown accustomed to representing themselves graphically. Enter MOO, an online printer that produces business cards and collateral that allow you to put the customization power of MySpace in your pocket (Don’t worry, Moo is as refined as a member of the English gentry).
Moo does a few things amazingly well. First, they understand their target audience and provide a premium offering to customers who will value it. Photographers, designers, and other creative types who produce visual work can can carry it with them. Using variable data printing technology and Moo’s software you can design a business card that has a unique image on each card in the pack. This is a neat trick, but also a huge boon to creatives who can now conveniently carry their portfolios. Imagine you are at a conference where someone mentions a project they are looking for help with. Do a quick look through your stack of cards, find a closely matched project and make an indelible impression instantly.
Moo also smartly considers the entire shopping experience. Too often custom manufacturing companies get complacent with the novelty of their offering and skimp on things like packaging or branding. Moo products come in heavyweight containers made from high quality materials. They feel substantial and worthy of the ~$0.50 per card you will pay. Their website and sales materials are cheeky and reinforce the brand (e.g. the shipping invoice provides customer service number, VAT number, and Moo’s favorite number, 3).
Moo also seems to get where we are in the development of mass customization. Print on demand is the most mature technology in the field represented by companies like Zazzle, Cafepress, LuLu, Blurb, Tabblo, Xoddo, and others, but the great majority of people haven’t ever tried them. Moo has business offerings like cards, but it becomes easy to forgo a custom purchase in favor of something more cost effective like Vistaprint. Something novel and fun like custom sticker books remove quotidian concerns and let people have fun and experiment. This engineer used the sticker book product to create a pack of adhesive QR codes.
Moo cards are are a premium priced product, but give you an opportunity to express yourself that no other service can match. In the pre-Netscape business world, copperplate fonts and watermarks might have been enough to set you apart, but in today’s highly visual world you need MOO.