Moo-ve over Moleskine
For a long time, Moleskin has sat comfortably on the throne of notebooks. Until now. You may have already heard of this little company called MOO, best known for their original and high-quality business cards. Perhaps you’ve seen their clever advertising around London, with posters that say, “Introduce yourself. Properly. Don’t be a what’s-his-face.” Well, this little company is not so little anymore, and it has plans, big plans. One of those plans is to penetrate the notebook market, competing with the likes of Moleskine.
How MOO groo
MOO began as a start-up in 2004 and has since become one of the world’s fastest growing print businesses. It employed over 400 people with a turnover of £75 million last year.
CEO Richard Moross founded the company when he was just 26 years old. It was originally called Pleasure Cards with the line, “We’re the new coolest thing!” Needless to say, it failed to take off.
Instead of quitting, Moross learned from his mistakes. You don’t tell people what’s cool. In 2006, out of time and money, Moross rebranded the company to MOO and changed their slogan to: “Hello, we’re just a little printing company. We love to print.”
In addition, MOO created an innovative platform where customers can design their own business cards rather than modify existing templates. The company then went on to secure million-pound investments and key partnership deals with companies such as Flickr, Etsy, YouTube and LinkedIn.
The Moo Notebook
At the end of 2016, MOO launched its first hardback notebook collection, MOO-style. They come in six different colours, each with 176 pages. There is a coloured section in the middle, which can be used as a partition, a space for note-taking or doodling.
The pages are high-quality Swedish Munken Kristall paper that won’t yellow with age and comes with a slipcover for protection. And of course, being made by MOO, also comes with an optional stick-on pocket for storing business cards.
But what impresses me most is the unique lay-flat binding. Every page of the notebook, regardless of whether you’re at the beginning, middle or end, lays beautifully, perfectly, flat. Apparently also a godsend for left-handed writers.
If you’re already familiar with Moleskine notebooks, you’ll know that they too have done a fantastic job at diversifying their product offerings to suit all types of users and uses. But alas, at the time of writing, none of them have a lay-flat spine.
Moo vs Moleskin vs Tech
Moleskin also has an interesting story. It is an Italian company, founded in 1997. Interestingly, they used to be called Modo & Modo until 2006 when they underwent a rebranding (the same year as MOO!) and adopted the name Moleskine.
Under the new name, they expanded their product range from a single, spring-bound notebook to what you see today: a suite of luxury notebooks, planners, journals, sketchbooks, wallets and backpacks.
Their aesthetic is classic, based on the iconic notebooks of Paris in the 19th or 20th century. Their vision was to resurrect the notebook as a key source of inspiration and creation, as it was for Picasso or Hemingway.
But this is 2017, and today’s notebooks and business cards can now be replaced by apps and technology. Despite the fact that both MOO and Moleskine face bigger competition than each other, they show impressive growth rates. Similar to the phenomena seen with vinyl records.
Although MOO’s CEO is strongly convinced that the business card is here to stay, both are responding with future-proofed, hybrid-like products. MOO is working on Business Cards +, which embeds a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, allowing recipients to add contact details into a mobile phone with just a tap.
Meanwhile, Moleskine seek to reaffirm their relevance in the digital world as a critical companion to the more “creative and imaginative professions”. They have launched a “smart writing set” that allows you to write with pen and paper and digitize your notes. The product is in partnership with Evernote, a company who began purely online and has now gone in the opposite direction, launching its first paper notebook offering together with Moleskine.
A MOO notebook costs £14.99 compared to £11.99 for a Moleskin classic or £17.99 for their Blend Limited Collection