Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FB et al in the Office

It's more than a month now since we blocked facebook and youtube from our office network from 8:30 - 12 and 1:30 - 5:30.  I wonder how people here have reacted over it.

It's actually been debated since early 2009, whether to do just that or not.  The primary problem then was loss of productivity.  Restaurant City and Farmville (along with Plants vs Zombies) were grave dangers to work time.  Even before, non-stop chatting in YM was already an issue.  It seems staying largely unseen by the boss was enough temptation for quite a few.

By large, I resisted having a permanent ban on FB along with some other sites.  We want our people to choose the right thing, and be smart about stuff like this. FB and other sites can be good stress relievers after all. 

2009 Team building helped some with that regard.  After that, clear and blatant abuse were less common, although it was still much of a problem with people stationed  in unwatched, far away places.

2010 however brought even more important reasons to do something about it. High bandwidth streaming sites like Youtube was hurting our VPN and email.  Then sometimes, we find people fighting because of some status update commonly read wrong or hitting too close to the heart, or below the belt.  People here are getting their fun in FB at the expense of others, methinks.

(There's something ironic when people fight because of something said in Facebook.  It was supposed to help connect people.  But on those times, it was virtually helping connect punches between otherwise good friends.  People stopped talking straight.  FB was replacing normal human interaction.  Scary.)

One interim step I took was to temporarily disable web access to certain sites to specific computers that were found exceeding their "breaktime" quota.  But that's unnecessarily Big Brother for me. 

So we're now where we are.  In the mean time, they're off-limits during work hours.  Hello to shorter lunch time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Letterhead Through the Years

Our company letterhead has gone through several iterations over the the last decade. I still remember the first one with the red A over the M logo.  That was maybe 1997.  If I find a copy of that one, I'll post it here.

2000 - 2005 Letterhead
Our early 200x logo just slightly evolved over 5 years as we added brand logos in the footer.  We used A.O. Smith's electrical motor logo rather the Water Heaters logo, even though we were much bigger into water heaters than motors.

2006 - 2008 Letterhead
This revision was due to a change in logo.  As part of a marketing strategy, we wanted "Water Systems" in our logo.  "Amici" as a word is obviously rather generic.  The Amici pizza shop wasn't commercialized then.  Nowadays, we get confused reactions from callers mistaking us for the pizza parlor. 

 2008 - 2009 Letterhead
A designer's rendition of our letterhead.  Minimalistic design.  Symmetry.

2010 Letterhead
This is really just a minor revision.  A line of brand logos was added to put some connection to water products.

2011 Letterhead Revisions

This year's letterhead is a major revamp.  Why another change?  The 2010's line of logo felt tacked in.  The 2008 design is elegant, but sometimes we need the company name somewhere there.

In the header are the company logo and specific company details.  To adapt the letterhead to our other branches, only the header needs to be modified.

I have had mixed reactions to the logo placement on the upper right corner.  It's definitely not common.  Nevertheless, I felt a right aligned header magnifies reader focus to the content of the letter. 

In previous iterations of this design, all the letterhead text are grayed instead of solid black to further emphasize the document content.  But printing issues have made the text too dithered and illegible.  So we settled with solid black.

The lower left box of brand logos balances the weight of the upper right header placement.  The logos are small but recognizable.  It might be an issue if you read things with a magnifying glass.  But again, I didn't want the all-too-many logos to detract reader focus.  When the reader, out of curiosity, gives attention to the small logos, she will hopefully not find it hard to distinguish the brands we represent.

The lower center box are tag lines of our products and markets, centered for the persons unfamiliar in our industry.  Our website is also put here at the bottom, to act as a portal for the recipient to get more company information.

Last but not the least, the lower right box emphasizes to the reader the national level of our business.

Store Front

With another new year, I thought it unforgivable that our store front hasn't changed much over the years.  Our original store name from 1997 had been effectively erased by a bus accident.  Now, it's even covered by the guard house.  Some effort had been put in 1999, although virtually only "Water Systems" is visible from the street.

Last year, I put a Sta-Rite tarp on the left of the store.  I was elated to get an inquiry on pool products a few weeks after.  (These things have effects after all.)  Towards October I also added an Aermotor poster.  And then we temporarily moved office as we started renovations.  Unfortunately, after the renovations finished, I couldn't find the Sta-Rite tarp anymore. 

2010 ended and a new year began.  We stopped a bit to focus on our primary work.  And pretty much no effort was being made any more on our store front.

While a good store front might be a secondary priority for a company like us, since we are primarily a wholesaler, not taking advantage of our front might be remiss of marketing savvy.

We are located at Mayon St. (or Avenue, according to PLDT), and it's not a small street at all.  It's a commercial street, though new developments have only started the past few years.  We are two blocks away from Suki Market, we're near the local church and baranggay hall, and SM's Sun Residences is rising at the South end of Mayon.

So, to me, that we would not do even simple steps to increase our marketing presence is a loss of opportunity.  So what did I do?  I brought an unused plastic holder back to life and filled it with excess fliers and brochures.  I hung a big A.O. Smith tarp by our window -- it still needs ironing though.  I rummaged a "farmland" beside our store, and found a ready-to-be-thrown Atmor sign from our retail days.  I taped it at the window in a not-so-nice way.  I saw the Aermotor banner hanging by the guard house, but it looked too drab now so I decided against it.  Instead, I'd been eyeing two more tarps from our exhibits.  They looked nice and green and could work effectively to accentuate our sky blue office.  All these hacks weren't so hard.

Next one should be a nicer store sign.  Hmmm, we could even use our underwater lights to put on a colorful show.  Not.  Well, at least a store sign with big nice letters.  And then, afterwards?  Perhaps our service vans and motor bikes...