What Happened To Showing Off Your Pictures? Memolio Has The Answer

Challenge

  • Create a new type of photo product that can establish its own identity and niche
  • Find a way to encourage people to use images stored on computers and the web to make simple, versatile albums
  • Ensure high-quality image reproduction and durability

Solution

  • Use of the latest web-to-print technology
  • Unique format coupled with social media features
  • A print service provider with an HP Indigo press 5500

Results

  • Strong brand identity
  • Increasing market awareness
  • A diverse customer base that includes professional photographers, marketing agencies, businesses and consumers

The combination of digital photography and digital printing led to an explosion of new photo-specialty products and formats for consumers, enterprises and professional photographers. However, despite a plethora of creative ideas using digital images, Memolio (www.memolio.com), of the Netherlands, has developed a new design that is gathering momentum.

The impetus for Memolio came from the discussion of the simple question, "What happened to showing off your pictures?"

"There is something about holding an album in your hand," said Doris Tamminga, communications director, Memolio. "Never before have so many pictures been taken - with digital cameras, mobile phones and webcams - but these uncountable images remain stored on the web and on people's computers.

"We wanted to find a way to put those pictures in a simple, versatile album that could be shared effortlessly, on-line and off-line. It was also important for us to create something different, from existing photobooks."

The Memolio team had a valuable combination of experiences and skills in print and web technologies, communications and design. From the outset, the goal was to create a new product and enable its end-to-end production from the web interface through to finishing and fulfilment.

"We love the web, and we love to print," Doris Tamminga continued. "Bringing these things together with digital photography was an exciting prospect.

"Our album format is inspired by the iPod, with similar size and shape [103 x 62 x 5mm, with round corners]. We also use a waterproof, crumple-proof, durable polyester substrate that is also out the ordinary."

The "classic" Memolio album comprises 24 images that can be edited and customised with colour, album name, date and other details. The cover displays the first twelve images as thumbnails. Album pages are printed double-sided on a 350 micron plastic substrate and secured with a specially designed fastener that enables the pages to swivel open like a swatch book.

Getting the whole look and feel right took continuous tweaking, according to Doris Tamminga: "We experimented with different substrates and print settings. In the end, both our team and customers concluded that we needed to improve our print quality. It was okay, but there was definite room for improvement. Hence, our switch to an HP print solution because of its superior print quality - and the improvement was tremendous!"

Memolio albums are now printed by Paro Printing, of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on an HP Indigo press 5500. XML files are converted to a PDF format and jobs are processed by an HP SmartStream Ultra Print Server that drives the HP Indigo press 5500.

Jan-Paul van den Hurk, CEO, Paro Printing, and Memolio director, also developed "the Bot" - a custom finishing solution for Memolio album production at Paro Printing. The "Bot" cuts the printed sheets, assembles the albums and secures them with the high-impact plastic fastener. Albums are then wrapped, enveloped and labelled for despatch.

Print, the web and beyond

Apart from being able to produce printed albums, the Memolio website enables albums to be shared on its site, on Facebook, Flickr PRO and on users' websites and blogs. Memolio albums have attracted a very wide customer base, with many professional photographers, marketing agencies and enterprises using them as samples, portfolios, brochures and other collateral. In fact, the demand was such that Memolio added a "Pro" user facility with more opportunities to customise, and whose members can brand the albums and act as resellers.

While Memolio is still in its start-up phase, it is already exploring ways to reach new markets with customisation and further developments of the concept.