Some might find it ironic: one of the world's leading fine paper makers using advanced digital technology [paperless!] to sell paper? What are they thinking?
"Because consumers today get most of their information from web-based resources or smartphone apps, we need to embrace that and speak their language," explains Tom Wright, senior director of advertising and design for Neenah Paper. "We simply must find new and increasingly effective ways to reach them and that includes using technology as part of the mix."
As testimony to that commitment, Neenah has launched a totally redesigned and retooled website, neenahpaper.com. Designed to engage today's Neenah customer in ways no other industry site can, it is a significant feat for a paper company and a unique investment into creative tools that marry paper and technology.
"We've made a significant investment in studying what today's communications professionals want and need," says Wright. "They're searching for resources that enhance creativity and effectiveness. They're looking at how to reduce out-of-pocket costs and even reduce or eliminate waste that might end up in a landfill. We've designed and added a myriad of opportunities and cross-functionality to the new site to meet those desires. It's our way of expressing to customers, 'we get it,' and letting them know Neenah intends to continue to bring to market a series of inspirational tools and programs that empower them."
A cornerstone of the site is the expanded Neenah Personal ProofSM, an online service that allows users to create high quality, custom-printed samples using their own artwork. With the Neenah Personal Proof, designers can order up to three free printed samples of a single design on close to 500 different Neenah paper stocks including CLASSIC(R) Papers, ENVIRONMENT(R), SUNDANCE(R), ESSE(R), and EAMES(TM). Once they submit their Personal Proof order, the samples will be custom printed and sent to them in three to five business days. Multiple visits are encouraged.
"The Neenah Personal Proof is really revolutionary for our industry," explains Wright. "The ability to digitally view the color and texture of paper online and then receive a printed sample of your own work empowers designers in a way that no one has ever done before."
According to David Schimmel of And Partners, the New York-based design agency responsible for creating the new site, the Personal Proof illustrates how the website moves beyond enabling customers to empowering them.Says Schimmel, "Our goal with the redesign is to empower customers with options that let them see more, learn more and do more. People want do it themselves using improved, accessible technologies and services. The Personal Proof gives them that."
Fundamentally, the new website is not an information vault but a portal to the world of paper. It does much more than simply provide information about Neenah products. It shows up to work, too. The website currently offers users 22 tools that can help them make better informed paper choices. That is just the beginning.
"Our new site deploys leading technology that brings inventive resources to the equation. By allowing individual users the power to interact with us, what was once a static experience becomes a dynamic, interactive online relationship. Rather than tell, the site does. You can put it to work on the task at hand," says Wright.
The totally revamped neenahpaper.com website allows users to select the applications that fit their style - from highly conceptual to highly functional. Explains Schimmel, "No two designers are alike. For example, some are logical and prefer to work with a solid, practical plan. Others are visually conceptual and never follow a plan. Rather than assuming what the user wants and how she works, we provide a portal to elements that let them define their own style and work approach. We leave it up to users to take their desired path in how they wish to interact with color, texture and weights."
Right-brained designers (conceptual) can explore a variety of inspiring widgets and resources:
NEW Best-in-Class Paper Selector, a visual way of searching for paper online that closely approximates the feeling of spreading out printed samples on a work table. Designers, printers, distributers and consumers can filter their choices by color, grade, finish and weight.
Think Ink: Color Unleashed, Neenah's proprietary application lets users build custom color palettes using the Dewey Color System(TM) (the world's only scientifically-validated, color-based personality testing system).
Printed Promotion Library, Neenah's print promotional brochures and swatchbooks can now be viewed online.
Improved Neenah Paper Store to purchase paper by color, texture, grade or application.
And expanded Envelope Offerings
Those left-brained (practical) designers have their own set of choices that they can put to use:
Adobe Swatch Exchange Files permit users to accurately simulate exact paper color and remove the guesswork.
Interactive Swatch Book Library puts every Neenah swatchbook right on the desktop and is never outdated.
Integrated Folder and Envelope Die Lines that lets users make comps faster, easier and more accurately.
Mobile apps of Neenah's most popular tools that can be downloaded for the iPhone or BlackBerry.
In addition, Neenah will continue to host its most popular resources online including Neenah Green information (with logos, terms, paper choices by post consumer content and/or FSC certification), merchant and printer finder applications, live chat help, a complete glossary of paper terms, logos, contest forms and galleries, and it's popular blog, Against The Grain, featuring stories about creative professionals across the country.
"Is it counter-intuitive for a paper company to use paperless technology to sell paper?" asks Wright. "Let's put it this way: it makes sense to give customers the tools they need to work more efficiently and effectively with their paper providers. The new neenahpaper.com makes the process of finding papers more intuitive, user-friendly, relevant and even fun. It's a next generation website for the next generation of designers