Harry DjanoglyHarry DjanoglySeptember 27, 2017


Burgeoning financial technology is reshaping the way people all around the world, from all walks of life, make their purchases. The modern customer typically prefers to have an increased number of options from which to choose — including but certainly not limited to cash, credit, PayPal, Bitcoin, Venmo, Apple Wallet, and more.

Merchants who offer their customers a variety of these payment methods can expect a greater number of completed purchases. In fact, one poll found that 56% of online shoppers expect to be offered a variety of payment options upon checkout, and this expectation was third only to free shipping options and a guaranteed date of delivery.

The Rise and Benefits of Card-Based Installments

One trend that’s beginning to gain steam in the e-commerce industry is the rise of interest-free, card-based installment payments. Merchants that adapt installment technologies that allow their customers to make an installment agreement upon purchase with their existing Visas or MasterCards will have an edge. This permits the buyer to pay a set monthly rate for the purchase at hand, rather than adding the whole price to the customer’s existing credit card debt.

The option to sign up for installment payments empowers customers on several fronts, allowing them to stick to their budgeting goals, making their purchase more affordable, and permitting them to build a better credit history without being burdened by sky-high interest fees. On the merchant’s end, the inclusion of the interest-free installment offer works to encourage purchases and augment conversion rates.

The average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is at a whopping 65%, with a puny conversion rate amounting to a little over 2%. While online users may abandon the cart for a number of reasons, such as high shipping costs, uncertainty about the item, or a sub-par user experience, providing them with the option to make installment payments immediately gives the shopper an extra incentive and mental encouragement to go through with the purchase. It would be in any merchant’s best interest to offer such incentives to enhance the online shopping experience by adapting to the user’s preferences and purchasing capabilities.

A Welcome Alternative to the Traditional Credit System

The credit card industry is riddled with high fees and interest rates, complex rewards programs, and other obstacles that can make having a credit card more of a hassle than it’s worth. It’s becoming increasingly easy to get behind on payments and fall into debt, an issue that plagues many, often with life-changing consequences.

Only six countries in the world currently offer interest-free installment payments via credit card: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, and Israel. Even though its presence is rather small on a global scale, merchants and customers alike benefit from the installment method.

In fact, 10% of Brazilians use Crediário, which offers millions of people the ability to pay for goods and services of varying prices over 48 monthly installments. Furthermore, the trend towards this payment model increases significantly in the realm of online payments, with 80% of all e-commerce transactions made in Brazil adhering to the installment method. This figure is substantial given that Brazil boasts the fifth largest digital market in the world, and Brazilians account for 40% of all Latin American internet users. Given that Brazil also has the most mature e-commerce market in Latin America, it’s clear that other countries should take heed of their installment offerings and note the success it’s had in the region.

Moving Forward with Card Installment Payments

The payment industry is taking steps toward rolling out the installment initiative, with MasterCard testing out pilot programs across Europe over the past year. Discerning industry leaders understand that consumers are more likely to make purchases and even spend more at the point of sale if a variety of options are readily available.

E-commerce retailers (in addition to brick-and-mortar stores) would be wise to jump on the bandwagon with card-based installments, and could see a significant improvement in conversions and profits if they meet the customer on middle ground; a win-win situation is certainly possible for merchants and consumers alike.

Harry DjanoglyHarry DjanoglyJuly 12, 2017


Those of us in the branding industry have seen several emerging trends that appear destined to integrate permanently into the way we do business. These trends are as far-reaching and diverse as businesses embracing purposeful brand activism, to the ever-growing rise of artificial intelligence in branding strategy and execution.

Friend or Foe? Artificial Intelligence and Branding

New developments in AI, such as automation and machine learning, have already creeped into the world of brand strategy and design. Through a quick analysis of user preferences and tastes, people are using AI to analyze a user’s design style and suggest appropriate fonts and logos. It’s not hard to see the appeal: automated branding takes minutes rather than days, and costs a fraction of what a human designer would charge.

Some now fear the next stage–that using machines to design and implement branding will put human designers out of work. This sort of debate isn’t new. But, despite similar protests in the past, today all sorts of automated services, from self-checkout counters at grocery stores to electronic toll booths, are commonplace.

Conversations as well as services are becoming increasingly automated; even Facebook has introduced bots that can book you a car and order you food, and Amazon’s popular Echo can automate basic tasks in your home. Given this trend, should designers be worried?

Not really. While concern in the business world may have some merit, the use of artificial intelligence for branding is decidedly different from typical examples of machine labor. While it’s true that self-checkout counters might eventually replace human cashiers, automated branding does not replace designers, nor is it likely to. Instead, automated branding opens up doors for startups and small businesses that otherwise wouldn’t have the budget for good design. And as automated branding fills this niche, designers–who could incorporate AI into their own design strategy–could benefit.

The Democratization of Branding

Well-designed branding should not be the exclusive domain of the biggest and most successful companies. Both the gig economy and the automated creative industry are now providing opportunities for small players to get a leg up in their respective fields. As is the case with hiring freelancers from sites like Task Rabbit and others, automated design providers allow humble businesses to enjoy quality work with limited budgets. Considering the kinds of expenses new businesses face, anything that helps them achieve financial independence is a good thing.

And startups aren’t the only businesses that will benefit. Automated branding companies like Tailor Brands service everyone from soccer moms making logos for team uniforms to kids who create branding for gaming clubs. They also service freelancers, dog walkers, and people pursuing their dreams after work. Sure, machine-created logos are used for traditional marketing purposes. But, they’re also amping-up your neighbor’s hobby baking business or social media profile. It’s likely these are things that users wouldn’t have hired a professional designer to do anyway.

Coexistence Is Key

Our insistence on snappy logos – through automation, if necessary – actually says more about marketing than competition. Talented web designers still have more work than they can handle. At the same time, the projects that they don’t choose to engage, or the budgets that they will not entertain, can still benefit from an attractive and professional website.

The growing popularity of automated branding doesn’t mean society has lost its appreciation of quality art or respect for the creative minds behind it. On the contrary, automated branding represents an increasing need for design, not just by the most successful companies but by smaller businesses as well. This democratization of brand logos simply shows that we care more, not less, about the need for good design.

The creative industry certainly isn’t in danger of disappearing. Companies with the resources to do so will continue to combine human designers with automated design, while individuals and small businesses will have an opportunity to use compelling branding while saving on costs. The shift toward automation isn’t about a decreasing need for designers; it’s about an increasing preference for good design.

Interesting Links:

Harry DjanoglyHarry DjanoglyJune 1, 2017


Thanks to social media and the growing prevalence of rating sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, and the like, consumers are gaining greater access to useful reviews that extend beyond the almighty word-of-mouth recommendation or condemnation.

Here, we’re uncovering 8 myths commonly ascribed to the role of social media in online reviews:

Myth #1: My business needs to be present on every social network

This myth is perhaps the saddest and most misinformed of the bunch—if you’re trying to rake up likes, follows, and comments across every social network and ranking platform possible, you might as well be chasing your tail, as it’ll be a never-ending game of catch-up that won’t be worth the time and effort invested. Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus on the platforms where your greatest audience segments already spend their time and interact with your business. Though your customers may be present on all such platforms, focus your time and attention on those with the greatest engagement with your brand, and respond accordingly.

Myth #2: It’s too time-consuming and widespread to keep track of reviews across all sites and platforms

If you’re still manually keeping track of your business’s social activity by chasing Google alerts and in-app notifications, you’re losing valuable time that would be better spent in executing positive changes for your brand and its offerings. Consider consulting with a data-driven assistance tool  which aggregates information (including updated prices and reviews) on a given product so that consumers and businesses alike have the latest and most comprehensive product details in real-time.

Myth #3: Lots of likes = better business

This myth is a common trap to which individuals and businesses often fall prey. While many people tend to focus on the number of likes and followers as a determinant of the success of a brand or its products, it’s merely a vanity count that more often than not has little bearing on the prosperity of a given offering. As a rule, focus on the quality of reviews rather than the quantity of likes or follows. A review lends itself to an informed, engaged customer, whereas likes can literally cost less than a dime a dozen.

Myth #4: Most online reviews are fake

Though it’s not out of the ordinary for companies to encourage their employees (and friends and families thereof) to post positive reviews on their brands, such “sponsored” reviews are not as prevalent as one would imagine so as to dismiss reviews entirely. One Gartner study found that a mere 10-15% of online reviews are paid for by companies. Though this number isn’t insignificant, today’s consumers are generally wise enough to detect falsified or over-the-top testimony over an exposition of a genuine experience with a given brand’s product or service.

Myth #5: Consumers already have all necessary information via marketing messages and product descriptions

Reviews are gaining greater prevalence in the current marketplace given that today’s consumers are more savvy and discerning than ever before. Many consumers are privy to deciphering which messages are genuine whereas others are craftily constructed (i.e. when they come from an actual customer versus the mind of a master marketer). Reviews are quickly becoming a major determinant in purchasing power, with one Forrester study finding that 46% of consumers trust customer reviews over the social media marketing output of brands themselves (amounting to a mere 15% trust rating).

Myth #6: Only angry customers will post reviews

Though dissatisfied customers often leave the most memorable and passionate reviews, it should not be ignored that positive reviews outweigh negative ones in sheer volume. In fact, one TrustPilot report found that 83% of online reviews are positive, thereby allowing consumers to make more informed decisions whilst also boosting the business’s bottom line.

Myth #7: Positive reviews don’t wield great influence over purchases

Though typically less popular than their more vitriolic counterparts, consumers give greater clout to positive reviews than you may think: a ShareThis study found that a positive review bolsters a product’s favorability by 9.5%, and is also more influential in purchasing behavior (57%) than price (28%) and brand (16%) combined.

Myth #8: Negative reviews will inevitably wreak havoc on my brand

So long as you use social media as a channel for open dialogue, rather than a mere one-way street of communication from the customer to the brand and not vice versa, you can use negative reviews to your advantage. First, replying to a negative review will prove to the world that your brand doesn’t cower in the face of challenging feedback. Next, a response wherein you recognize your potential fault, apologize for any inconvenience or dissatisfaction, and explain how you will rectify this situation for this particular customer and those thereafter can easily turn a negative review into positive PR for your brand. There’s a growing number of cases in which brands creatively attend to customers’ comments via social media, generating winning (and sometimes viral) responses that could have soured yet strategically ended up sweet.

Reviews are more powerful and prevalent than you may at first realize, and as long as you recognize their potential and enact best practices to ensure that they’ll work in your favor, they can easily become one of your brand’s greatest online allies.

Interesting Links:

Harry DjanoglyHarry DjanoglyFebruary 15, 2017


How well do you know what your employees are capable of? After the initial hiring interviews, hands-on training, and performance reviews have passed, there may still exist a few hidden mysteries about your employees’ abilities. Aside from exhibiting competency in their normal day-to-day duties, each person in your employ perhaps holds untapped potential simply waiting to manifest itself, given the right opportunity. The question is, how do you find out about those secret talents?

Not every unique skill a person possesses will show itself on a resume or come forth during an interview, nor do people always realize exactly what they are capable of.

In truth, some of the world’s most recognizable figures may have never been discovered if they had not sought to develop skills outside of their comfort zones.

Mark Zuckerberg, a former psychology major at Harvard, started Facebook as a social experiment to satisfy his need to look into how we live. His increasing development of business and marketing skills has grown his former experiment into a multi-billion dollar company.

Actor Harrison Ford made the transition from carpenter to Hollywood A-lister while installing cabinets and doors on a film set, later making a name for himself in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

Though your employees may never become the next Zuckerberg or Ford, they harbor a wealth of underlying potential that you can – and should – awaken.

Scientific research informs us that only 20-25% of creative ability is genetic, which means 75-80% of those abilities can be developed.

And given the right opportunities, you can help your employees continue to develop their current skill set while discovering new ones, and use those skills to your company’s advantage. While there is no single right way to do this, you can follow a few simple strategies that will give you the greatest chance of successfully tapping in to your employee’s talent reserve:

1. Invest in Formal Training or Certification Programs

If you are already somewhat familiar with the skills of an employee, you can ensure they continue to build and hone those skills by offering ongoing training and support. This could take the form of certification classes, online webinars, offsite conferences, or any other type of formal instruction to ensure their skills stay relevant.

2. Administer a Formal Skills Assessment

A standard test to assess various skills isn’t the most exciting way to get to know your employees, but it can provide a useful tool if you need to compare skills between employees, or need a quick, visual reference regarding certain skills. A formal skills assessment can test each employee on basic skills relevant to your company, as well as gather insight as to what the employee is most interested in. Formal tests may also offer analytics based on the results, which could offer additional insight as to the natural balance of your company culture.

Analyzing the results of a skills assessment can prove helpful if you need to form teams or groups for projects, ensuring each member of the team can bring diverse skills to deliver the best chance of success.

3. Consider Employee Preferences and Interests

Employees who enjoy what they do tend to invest more of themselves in their work, plus it extends the possibility of higher employee retention.

While you may not be able to alleviate all of an employee’s unwanted job duties, you can take the time to figure out what your employees like to do, as well as potential duties they might be interested in.

You can investigate these interests by having one-on-one conversations with employees, allow employees to sign up for specially created committees, host internal career days to showcase open positions within the company, or accept volunteers for special projects. Observing your employee’s response when presented with these unique opportunities can give you insight as to how you can reach their hidden potential.

4. Discover How Unused Skills Can Fit into the Current Workflow

Truthfully, some of your employees may possess strong talent in seemingly unusable areas. For instance, you may know one employee who excels at creating high quality video with a drone, yet your company does not invest in video marketing. Instead of dismissing the skill as useless, you could have the employee take drone shots of the company’s facilities or special events and use them on the corporate website.

You do not have to change an employee’s entire job description to make use of the unique skills they offer. Instead, take the opportunity to boost employee engagement by finding a rational place for their talent in your overall schema.

5. Create Test Assignments

Oftentimes, employees will never reach their full potential unless a need to unmask that potential arises. If you want to dive deep into an employee’s talent cache, hand them an offbeat assignment and watch them work. You can learn as much through the process they follow and the questions they ask as you will learn about the end result.

Every employee is good at something, but for some those talents are not quite as obvious. Sometimes all you need is a keen eye, a few resources, and enough time to evoke the skills that otherwise may never surface. And in doing so, your employees may be as pleasantly surprised as you.

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