Branding in podio/external user experience

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77 comments

  • Wim Vreugdenhil

    To be honest: the platform of Podio offers an interesting tool but its name is a problem for us. I am sorry to say but it sounds too much like a disease and has no fresh or promising taste. Our customers don't take us seriously with 'Podio' as ERP-application. This problem is strengthened by the way Podio is branded: this less appealing name is omnipresent.

    We now invite them to Podio by using a subdomain (pronet.domain.com) on our website, which redirects to Podio to prevent ourselves using Podio in our e-mails. Is this beneficial?

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  • Anders Pollas

    Leonardo: Without going into too much detail, then yes - your 50/50 suggestion fits the thinking we have around potential changes to invite emails etc. quite well. We don't want to hide the fact that Podio is the tool but we are just the tool and your clients need to feel that it's you that invites them. I'll have a think about whether we can make this more clear.

    (I'm the co-founder of Podio and working as a product manager, by the way)

     

    Wim: Podio means 'platform' so we really like it and don't plan to change it.

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  • Wim Vreugdenhil

    @anders: i understand what you mean, but... this great platform should have a catchier flag. The 50/50-suggestion will be an improvement.

    Keep up the good work!

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  • James Bryant

    It makes no sense to white label Podio.

    People are signing up to the Podio service, to try and "brand" it as something else would be even more confusing for the end user. You are supposed to be using this as a collaboration tool, if you don't have the time to explain to another potential user that this is a service provided by someone else then I wonder if you are really collaborating with them?

    The idea is that you can use Podio between different organisations, "branding" the top left corner would be illogical.

    It makes sense to brand a service like ZenDesk because it is public facing.

    If this is such a big issue for you then you probably value branding over usability & agile development and I'd hate for your opinion to take the Podio decision makers down that path. Maybe Podio is not the solution for you.

    I'm a software designer myself and I really appreciate the service that Podio has built.

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  • Doug Perry

    I agree with James on this.  Sure, an individual/company logo might be nice, but given all of the other things we are asking the Podio team to do, this to me is on the bottom of my list personally.  I want to see backup, better workflows and permissions, in-app editing of docs, better field control and sorting, and better reports over a name and logo change.  

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  • Jeff Leath

    Sadly enough its a deal breaker for us. As an Extranet that involves non-employees brand can in fact be crucial for many types of businesses. As a long term Yammer user their branding tools were spot on. Podio has almost everything we need and some as a serious business tool... minus the serious approach to business branding.

    Nothing is less important (for my employees) in my SaaS vendor tools that are "internal" facing. (Office 365, Ect)

    Nothing is more important (for my Customers, Vendors, and Volunteers) that are "externally" facing than my brand.

    Third Party (Vendor even) Branding is not lost in this conversation (Facebook Business Sites, etc) however I'm not paying for those services, nor use them in an infrastructure/B2B role either.

    We've already made the desicion to pull our early adoption of this tool. This was for what its worth.  

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  • Ignacio Santos

    I can't work in a very open area for my clients.

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  • Florian Schmidt-Amelung

    Strengthen Podio as a brand and not allow customers to use their CD is a reasonable business decision for a company like Podio operating in a very competitive market.

    However as a business customer this will keep me looking for other solutions and drive me away on the long run.

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  • Jacquelyn Pierce

     @James Bryant assumes that all external collaborating participants are equal and looking to be on equal playing fields.  The reason a small business uses a platform like Podio is to borrow the genius and use it as their own therefore offering added-value to their customers and colleagues.  This value-added is diluted by the feeling of third-party app participation.  As mentioned, this is a PLATFORM, not a participant in the game. It's a deal-breaker for me.  And, btw, Mavenlink offers many similiar features (but not all)  with full branding options including invoicing, billing, integration with Quick Books and PayPal. 

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  • Jacob Flatter

    Here's a comprimise:

    MY COMPANY LOGO - Powered by Podio

     

    This is a matter of recognition and trust for external users.  I would love to use Podio as an external facing portal, but without anything to reassure the user that they are indeed in the right place, I wouldn't present them with Podio quite yet.

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  • Nathan Hornby

    I only ended up here because I was looking for a way to make entries in apps 'private' to our organisation (I haven't found a way yet btw, in case anyone knows). I'm also evalutating the product for our business.

    While assessing the features offered in the premium version it mentions branding - if I can't even swap out the Podio logo in the top left what exactly does this entail?

    Also I'm assuming that the ability to shut the workspace down properly for light users exists by now? As that sounds like a massive omission - we're not your lead generators, we're your customers :) If they want to set up their own Podio workspace then they can do so via there own means - we're paying for our own space thanks :)

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  • James Bryant

    @Jacquelyn Pierce if someone is a member of your workspace then yes, it is very democratic, but this is what keeps it flexible.

    I don't wan't to speak too much on behalf of Podio, but from what I can tell by the way it is designed and how they market it that it is built for collaboration between individuals and teams, not asymmetrical customer communication.

    @Jacob Flatter I'm a member of multiple organisations, which currently works fine because their logos are stacked on the left. I don't see how the hierarchy would work placing one organisation at the top with 'powered by podio'.

    When a user signs up to Podio they are part of the entire network and can join multiple organisations which is great because I only need one login to work with multiple teams. I think a lot of people here are missing this point.

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  • leonardo aloi

    ..."When a user signs up to Podio they are part of the entire network and can join multiple organisations which is great...".

    @James Bryant: how many organizations a PODIO user is joined to, on average?

    My guess: 1,05.  ( the 5% due to customers managing two orgs under the same company group).

    PODIO is not a mass-market social network, like facebook, I will never login PODIO to search for  "friends" or "organizations". I use PODIO platform to collaborate on specific projects, because I am inviteed by the project sponsor / manager. PODIO would like to mimic linkedin, or dribbble ? Sorry too generic, and too late.

    "social & collaboration" portals I use are niche collaboration tools. They are useful just because they offer niche and specialized tools, for small and specialized communities.

    PODIO users collaborates on islands, separated by the ocean of market. They would like to call their island by name ("Cayo Largo", "Isla de la Juventud", "Arcipelago Los Canarreo"... ). They are used to name the emerged and populated land, not  the reef on which the island is based. PODIO is the reef.

    If PODIO product managers really believe they can aggregate an ecumenic community , I suggest them to get inspired by scientology (oops... failed:).

    All around,many  "social & collaboration" niche portals offers white labeling: cannot see the rationale of PODIO exception .

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  • James Bryant

    @leonardo aloi I'd interpret the 'Podio' as the name of the island nation, a collection of islands, not the unseen reef. This is where you are setting up your island and your citizens can travel between them at will. If you want to stay on one island that's fine, but you are still part of the larger ecosystem.

    I may be in the "5%", but that doesn't mean you need to convince all the other people that your island is the only island and that you own that island.

    Whether or not these islands communicate and trade is up to them. - Sorry got carried away with your analogy :)

    I'm sure the number of people collaborating between multiple organisations will grow. I like the idea of my client's getting setup with a login and being tempted to use Podio for their own organisation. It would make them more fluent with the software and foster more productive collaboration.

    Anyways, they've made it clear they won't label. I'm just trying to balance out the comments because I support the great work they are doing.

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  • James Bryant

    * I shouldn't have said "your citizens" because they would be citizens of the island nation of PODIO, not 'your company name'. Users may work for an organisation but they don't belong to an organisation.

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  • leonardo aloi

    Ambitious and slightly utopistic, but I hope your vision will succed.
    In the meanwhile, i can wait under the federal flag, but please provide your citizens whith services they ask: backup, user permission control, normal calendar, powerful app cross refs, rich calc rules,...

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  • Summer Coley-Ward

    @James Bryant re: 

    " I'm a member of multiple organisations, which currently works fine because their logos are stacked on the left. I don't see how the hierarchy would work placing one organisation at the top with 'powered by podio'.

    When a user signs up to Podio they are part of the entire network and can join multiple organisations which is great because I only need one login to work with multiple teams. I think a lot of people here are missing this point."

     

    1) When you are invited to Podio, you only see what the organization that originally invited you wants you to see, until you either a) start your own organization and break away from the one that invited you, or b) you happen to be invited to collaborate with other organizations using Podio.  Thus, if Podio made room to better feature the paying-user's logo, you'd only see it when interfacing with workspaces owned by that organization that invited you.

    2) Call it what you wish, but my clients are my clients and I protect them like the gold they are to our company.  I am not okay with the idea that the clients I invite to my PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLATFORM, serve as lead-opportunities to my PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLATFORM.  And if my clients suddenly feel solicited to by Podio, it risks appearing that I shared their information with 3rd parties without their consent.  That kind of stuff not only threatens my client relationship, but undermines our organization and actually breaks our privacy laws.

    3) You can only join multiple organizations if they invite you.  For example. I invite my clients to my Podio account, and I even help them set up their own Podio organzation and workspaces, but they do not have access to all the  organizations I interact with, and it is highly unlikely they will happen to befriend another organization from their interactions in Podio.  To do so, they'd either be PM's themselves, and interact in the Podio forums etc., or tech folks who happen to be passionate about PM apps etc.  I which case, they are usually too enamored with their own tools, to actually adopt using mine.

    4) Your comments to leonardo sound more like a rebuttal from feeling attacked.  Like Leonardo, we're here not because we hate Podio, but because were investing our time sharing our concerns and unmet needs with  Podio  in hopes that others have the same need, and that Podio will actually consider those needs when they develop and release their next shiny new features.  It sounds like you know more about Podio's vision than the rest of us.  In which case, maybe you can clarify it for me:  What is Podio selling?  What's their offer?  And in a visceral marketing sense "What's in it for me?"   That is what a customer/user wants to know after all.  

    Some of us may be here because we're seeking to be part of some kind of revolution.  The rest of us want a PM platform that is going fulfill our project management needs and help us shine.  We've got other things to march for.

    James, your passion is admirable, and Podio is very lucky to have brand ambassadors like you, but I also hope Podio values the rest of us - while we are far from drinking the idealistic Kool Aid, the value our pleas and input offer, albeit negative and whiny at times, can help Podio focus their feature offerings on what their current users really, really want and need - want enough to login here and whine about it. Believe me, there's value in that.

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  • James Bryant

    @leonardo Well put, +1 for backup, user permission control, normal calendar, powerful app cross refs, rich calc rules

    @Summer Well that's a shame that you had to end your well thought out comment like that. Doesn't really encourage me continue any conversation when you veer the topic discussion from the original topic to personal profiling.

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  • Summer Coley-Ward

    @James?  "Personal Profiling?"  Is that what you got out of my post.  Wow!  Interesting how you interpreted that.      You're not the friendliest fella around, now are you? : P

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  • James Bryant

    @Summer Sorry if I come off as hostile towards you, that's not my intent. Implying someone is drinking the Kool Aid is a pretty lame way to degrade someone else's opinion.

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  • Summer Coley-Ward

    Thank you @James.  Oh gosh!  just to be 100% clear:  I wasn't implying that anyone here "Drank the Kool Aid..."  I meant to say that I understand how our please , which sometimes come across as complaints , and imply the obvious -  that none of us drank the Kool Aid (lovestruck and unaware of a products limitations).  I suppose I should have been more careful with my use of the term.  Secondly, I refereed to you as a "brand ambassador" which is a very positive thing - we use that in marketing to label a brand's most loyal and most active word-of-mouth marketers.  We use the "Kool Aid" remark around here when describing a handful of fanatical marketers who stomp into our client's offices and claim that email is already dead and they should be using Twitter for absolutely everything....  That's another topic for sure.  I hope I've cleared the air between us.  I never meant to come across as being ignorant.

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  • James Bryant

    @Summer Thanks for clearing that up, I interpreted that entirely different. Forums don't convey tone very well, my apologies :) Allow me to reply to your original comment:

    1) It's my experience as a designer that someone's logo is never big enough. Not that its a bad thing, but when you are dealing with such a dense display of information in a UI like Podio's, every pixel is critical. I mean that literally, every use of a pixel is questioned and optimised.

    I feel the logos of organisations are the right size and placement, again that's an opinion, not a science. I guess the real beef is that the Podio logo appears to have more presence above the organisation's branding. The real danger is in misleading the user to believe that you own the platform, like Anders said, that's a whole bag of issues in itself. 

    It's frustrating to see some of the more extreme comments here like "We do not want to show Podio branding", but I'm guessing you'd probably think thats a bit overboard too. 

    As you probably already know (you sound like you have a marketing background), branding is more than placing a logo on something. To properly brand Podio as your own would require more than a slight rearrangement.

    2) Have any of your clients raised concern or do you not feel confident that they trust the platform you're using? I'd be genuinely interested to hear any comments that you gotten from clients, and I'm sure Podio would too.

    Personally, I'd only ever bring clients on board that I collaborate with closely on multiple projects, thus I already have a solid working relationship with them and the time to explain to them what we are using and why. I don't think Podio is a good platform for bringing in a client that we'll only work with for on one small project for a month or two. For my purpose, it would be asking a bit too much from them to join the service and add another channel of communication they don't normally have to maintain, we just stick to emails but I keep track on their behalf in Podio.

    My use case is probably very different to yours, but my feeling is that Podio is intended for long term collaboration in which case you should have the time to establish with a client what Podio is and how it works so that they trust Podio as a third party service, because that is what it is and I don't think it's a good idea to try and sell it any other way.

    3) I agree, but I guess it's part of Podio's business model to offer a service that's compelling enough that other PM's and users will experience, whilst working with another company, and see what it is capable of and want to migrate to. It's no small task to migrate, we had to migrate hundreds of contacts, projects and deliverables but we don't look back. 

    Maybe they need to dial that aspect down a bit of trying to onboard users from other organisations.

    4) I don't feel like I'm being attacked by @leonardo, I think he's got some great ideas such as "My WORKSPACE logo on top of invitations, email, etc to any user subscribed to my workspace." My writing style probably makes me sound more strongly worded than I intend to be.

    I liked his analogy of the island, but I think it highlighted what seems to be a common misconception amongst this thread, that a user belongs to an organisation. They designed their information architecture for users to be organisation agnostic which might be why people feel uneasy about not having control/hierarchy over other users they bring in.

    As for what is Podio is selling, I'm not the right person to answer that. Maybe Anders, Sarah or Gustav could clarify.

    --

    My Background (which might explain why I'm so passionate about this service) is that I've just spent the last 18 months designing (IA, Wireframining, User Testing, Rendering) a niche CRM system that also required a lot of flexibility and required team branding. That is why I find Podio so appealing because I can really appreciate the design and development decisions they have made to produce this product. I can also relate a lot to these discussions because I've been had the same talks with my team, and I highly value each and every other perspective that I read on these forums, including yours.

    At the same time I think these discussions need to be balanced. I happen to agree with Podio's stance on this situation and I think it's important that they know that not all their users are demanding to overhaul their approach towards branding. Developers need positive reenforcement too.

    I've also spent 3 years searching for a replacement to Daylite, finding Podio was a pretty big deal for us, I never found a good fit with other CRMs, always something critical missing. It's genuinely improved how our business operates.

     

    PS sorry about the long reply, you raised a lot of good questions :)

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  • Summer Coley-Ward

    @James.  Thank you for your thoughtful response and for granting the opportunity to clear the air.  You are right - this kind of platform doesn't convey tone.  I'm a bit bullish at times and I need to be more cognizant of how my use of expression can be interpreted. 

    1) I totally see where you're coming from, and I don't have a problem with internal brand representation.  Sure, as a marketer, I'd love to see our brand and brand colours incorporated into theme options (like is the case with Dooster, Projecturf and a few others), but it's not a big deal - not in comparison to the other more serious features I am praying for: ability to mark certain app-item fields as private, bulk edits etc...  

    Where I'd like our brand more front and centre is during initial login - a portal that welcomes our clients upon login.  This tells them that they are enrolling in a product we endorse etc and use - as a company standard and is part of the value of working with Agent Noir.   Harvest and Freshbooks handle this well, and still, their logo is there on our invoices - "powered by Harvest"

    RE: your comment about branding requiring more than just placement - 100% agreed!  It would look sloppy to allow us to feature our logos front and centre without also being granted the ability to choose from various corresponding theme colours and styles (as Harvest does).  Podio's brand - blue would look out of place with a red and black logo, for example...   The look has to be clear and consistent throughout.  At the end of the day, the most powerful element of branding is behavior - how we all do what we do, and the value we bring to our clients - consistently!  hence my focus on more serious requests for features that help us create efficient workflows and reporting.  NOTE: If Podio ever adds the ability to create Enterprise level, customisable printed reports (which I hope they do) I would absolutely want the ability to place our brand on that report - that is critical. 

    2) Excellent question, James! I've asked a few trusted clients this and they don;t really seem to care either way - in fact, my experience tells me that clients love to see their own brands on our materials, even if just alongside ours.  There is nothing more sweet to a client that seeing their own name, their own brand.

    What a few clients and subcontractors do have an issue with is the the amount of Podio notification emails they receive immediately upon joining - until their account settings are modified.  I have to do this with them via video tutorials and usually screenshare.  Sometimes though, their initial experience is enough to turn them off (usually the case with older clients who area already feeling suspicious of a collaborative way of doing things).  There was one instance where a client of mine continued to receive Podio newsletters and soliciting emails long after he deleted his account.  He was right pissed at me and felt as if I subjected him to being solicited by Podio.  Which leads to my issue with feeling as though my clients are automatically (and obvious) leads for Podio.  This can be done in a more gentle and effective manner, whereas, right now, when I invite my clients to a workspace, their initial login experience comes across as "Welcome to Podio... Sign up for your own account ect" which can be confusing when they're expecting to login to immediately see the project we have set-up for them."  Podio asks them things like "how many people are in your organization," and "invite people now.." and "start your own organization in Podio..."   See what I mean?  

     

    A more balanced approach might be:                         (our "Agent Noir" logo and Podio logo side by side/together)

    Welcome to your Agent Noir Project Workspace, powered by Podio!

    Podio breaths life into projects by giving you the perfect platform to bring everyone on board where ideas become actionable and collaboration leads to innovation.  Click here to go to your Agent Noir Project Workspace Now, or click here if you'd like to learn more about the benefits of bringing YOUR teams' projects to Podio. 

     

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  • Summer Coley-Ward

    @James (In response to your statements #3, #4 and beyond)

    I imagine our situations are similar.  I work with a team of designers and webmasters.  We use Podio to store, share and collaborate on 52 week client projects.  The lack of ability to mark app-item FIELDS as private is an issue when it comes to our need to track project budgets and budget burn down at the Program, Project and Deliverable level.  Also, when working with subcontractor bids, timesheet entries, and portions of the budget allocated to each of them - being able to mark financial fields for admin view (or shared only with specified users) would better enable us to track the financials while also respecting their privacy and preventing competitiveness and resentment amongst a team where one designer is allocated more project budget than another.  This would be like an internal team being privy to each others paychecks and benefits, and a pool of budget left to compete for.  We'd rather nurture a culture of fairness and collaboration and keep money matters with the administrators.  (I'll add for clarity that we pay our team extremely well - not undercutting.  In fact, I'm not willing to pay one web designer only 30/hour when I pay another web designer (with equal experience, contribution and ability) 60/hour.  I pay them both the same rate, but depending on the project, 1 designer may be assigned a larger part of the project than the other).  Thus, I am not trying to conceal anything devious; rather, I am trying to prevent the competitive feelings that can come from making comparisons etc.  

    I too like the "Islands" analogy, and at the same time, I understand the concept of "my clients being mine": which I think is used to express how protective we feel about our clients and not wanting them to feel poached or solicited to by the tools WE use to help support OUR businesses. 

    Re: your user case - CRM - and your 3 year search sounds like mine.  I'd love to switch over to collaborating with each other on CRM set-ups and best practices.  I'd love to see how you're making use of Podio for CRM and have your feedback and critique on my current CRM set-up in Podio.  For example, in my current set-up:

    • Leads, Opportunities and Deals are managed by unique Apps.  This get's clunky when a lead progresses through the pipeline to deal stage.  Thus, I am considering putting all 3 in one App and managing their stage using Categories.  I like LOVE the card left-to-right progression view.
    • I'm struggling in my efforts to create a Project Dashboard - consolidated view on progress of projects dispersed over several different workspaces.

    Let me know if you want to share a workspace and talk CRM. : D

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  • James Bryant

    @Summer sorry for the delay in my reply (organising to move overseas tends eats up a lot of my free time at the moment!), will endeavour to get back to you soon. Would love to exchange ideas! We're having trouble figuring out a good workflow for migrating clients from Prospective to Active too.

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  • Kapil Pershad

    Podio... I love you!  Please let me upload my logo.. :-)

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  • Matthew Hickman

    Podio, you won, you have paying customers... your logo is no longer important nor relevant... Our companies logo is what matters... We are providing the services which are stored in your product to our customers, which is why our logo belongs there... Your Logo matters to my company because we rely on you to provide this service... Keep focused on what's important... your logo being in front of our customers? Or our money being sent to you monthly?

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  • Kerry Peters

    I might be one of the first Podio users in Trinidad (*fingers crossed*) and we have a saying here: "The longest rope has an end." One day Podio will listen to its customers. On that note well said @Matthew Hickman.

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  • Sara Høeg Højlund-Rasmussen

    Hey guys!

    As communicated on our blog we just released the option to let you customize your Podio Workspaces and Employee Network using flexible tiles, which let YOU decide what is present on the Home page, what images and information to show etc. This mean that you can create a better experience for clients when inviting them to your workspaces. You can have your company logo present in top right corner of your workspace Home if you like.

    You will still have the top blue bar and general Podio branding, but it gives you more freedom to customize your workspace :)

    Hope you like the change!

    //Sara - Podio

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  • John Baskerville

    Hello Sara,

    Sound like a much welcomed update.  Which Blog article talks about these new features?

     

    Thank you,

    OSAGAtech

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