Vivaldis wanted to build a platform dedicated to students looking for a job. We were called in to help define a new brand and to build it from scratch. From previous projects, we learned that the role of Product Owner (PO) had become increasingly important to create a digital service that suits all stakeholders. So we appointed a (PO) at our side and went to work.
A new platform for student work
We were introduced to Vivaldis - a temporary employment agency - by Bakermen. They pulled us in to help with the concept, UX, copy, design and build of a new platform that was focused on helping students in their search for a suitable job. Bakermen stayed in charge of social media and analytics.
Vivaldis realized there was the need to set up a recruitment agency aimed directly at students. Field research had indicated that this age group felt they couldn’t turn to typical employment agencies to find a meaningful job.
Students were having a hard time finding a job that matched their field of interest or one that could challenge them and could possibly impress future employers.
This new platform was going to be different. It was going to address this younger audience by speaking their language.
Workshops with students
To understand the very essence of what this new brand should stand for, we engaged ourselves in several workshops, both with people from the corporate world and of course with our target audience.
The only way to find out what students were thinking was by asking them, plain and simple. We interviewed a group of students to find out what they value in an interim office.
One of the most surprising answers that came up during these sessions was the fact that we mislabeled the younger generation (our focus target group) as 'digital natives'. They’re not. Although they are actively using social media and other digital tools as a means of communication, they are not when it comes to their professional life. In that area, they prefer face-to-face contact and a much more personal approach. Acerta's recent study of generational differences at work confirms this. Young people today also expect a lot of feedback and context. Two interesting pointers we kept in mind.
A very interesting exercise was to invite both parties (students and employers) to the same table. This lead to some eye-opening insights for Vivaldis, allowing them to better understand the desires and needs of their target audience.
During the workshops, the suggested baseline ‘Student work for and by students’ was approved by the target group. The phrase already implies that you will be talking to your peers, which lowers the threshold for students to contact them. Fellow students can empathize best with the difficulties students are facing on the labor market and are therefore a student’s perfect ambassador.
Other exercises we did included a project canvas and business model canvas with people from the corporate world, an empathy map and a customer journey wheel.
Brand positioning, naming the child
We helped Vivaldis in setting up a complete brand identity. We defined the best way for them to communicate with and portray the brand to their target audience.
It's never easy to name a new child. Finding a suitable name that would express what this platform stands for wasn’t either. The Dutch word ‘travakken’ (which is slang for ‘working’) kept coming back in our brainstorm sessions. This led us to ‘TRAVAQ’, which had the exact no-nonsense, almost cheeky and accessible ring to match exactly with what we were looking for. We designed a logo that matched with the spirit of the name, and Vivaldis was sold on it immediately.
TRAVAQ is different. They are always accessible. There’s a constant online presence but no typical office. Instead, TRAVAQ adopts the pop-up principle. The ‘student for students’ idea entails that recruiting students for the right job doesn’t necessarily need to happen in a recruitment office. Students can help other students to find work.
TRAVAQ sends out its matchmakers (who are also students) to look for fellow students in their natural habitat. It sets up camp (temporarily) in local libraries, coffee shops, etc…. places where students tend to be. Specific locations where TRAVAQ can be found in the upcoming weeks are published online.
Like a loving father
The PO proved once again to play a critical role in trying to reach the goals from a user, business and technology point of view. In theory, we can all act as a PO. Anyone with the ability to adopt the product and consider it as his own child is up for the job.
However, appointing the UX designer as a PO seems like the more logical choice. First of all, the UX designer is the one who designs how the product will interact with the user. To design it properly, he always approaches the product from a user perspective and arguments in his regard.
Because of his consulting role he automatically enters a zone of trust with the client. That makes it easier for him to be seen as an expert later on.
He is also familiar with the entire history of the project. He knows the product inside out since he’s the one who helped it take form from the start. It’s only logical to keep the UX designer in the loop until the very end of the project, to make sure the product is built exactly as he envisioned.
Eyes on the product
Throughout the development of a product, a PO acts as the customer’s ‘compagnon de route’ for anything that has to do with the vision of the product. Why do we build it? What problem should it solve? And for whom?
The PO’s main focus is on creating value by means of the product. But how do you create value? It’s up to the PO to stay true to his vision at all times, meanwhile taking all stakeholder and user requests into account. His skill is to balance between these different stakeholders and interpret the tradeoff between benefits and costs. Which is also our definition of value: 'benefits over costs'.
The PO role and his focus on value put us closer to being strategic actors and not just pixel & bit players that only look at benefits. User Experience is our home ground but by putting on a PO hat, we learned to talk business.