Monday, December 8, 2008

Truckin' Goodwheels

After visiting the Goodwill Headquarters and speaking with Suzahna Burmeister, the marketing director, our class saw many areas of Goodwill that could be improved through design. This project was tailored to a real world client that could implement any of our proposals for real world design issues. It was a great opportunity for our class to show how Goodwill could potentially reach out to its community even more.

Each of us was designated into an area of concentration, which included conducting interviews, analyzing the visual communication, or analyzing the systems for Goodwill. I chose to be a part of the visual analysis group and was told to take thorough notes and photographs of Goodwill’s store layouts, organization of clothes, advertising, and signage. Most of my research resulted in visual clutter and disorganization. Signage seems to discourage viewers from actually reading them because they are overwhelmingly text heavy. There is an inconsistency in typefaces, branding, and a lack of reoccurring elements. For example, in holiday and seasonal advertisements, the inconsistency in typefaces and extraneous imagery make it difficult to recognize them as part of Goodwill’s campaign, were it not for the Goodwill logo itself. Whether it is a disarray of clothing or text heavy advertisements, most of Goodwill’s visual communication seems cluttered and overwhelming. However, one aspect of Goodwill’s advertisements we wanted to maintain in our proposal was the vibrant and engaging color schemes.

Other group members, Carrie and Giulio, asked shoppers, employees, managers, and non-Goodwill shoppers a specific set of questions regarding Goodwill’s mission statement. They discovered that many people are either aware or completely oblivious to the mission. A large subset of the community that is unaware included young adults and teenagers. They are also unaware that Austin’s Goodwill’s money and job opportunities stay local and within the community unlike other charity thrift stores such as Salvation Army. JM was part of the systems analysis group and did an extensive analysis on the circulation system within Goodwill. It begins with the points of distribution, or PODS. These are different ways the donations are received. From there, they are either salvaged or sold and then, the donations that have passed the three week period are taken to the outlets (blue hangers). Then, they are filtered into either bales that include textiles and gaylords which include hard-line items such as shoes and electronics. Finally, anything that cannot be recycled is trashed.

A major issue they uncovered after their research was that there is an inefficient use of certain resources. After Goodwill devised more efficient truck routes, fewer trucks are used now. This leaves seven box trucks unused and parked outside the Blue Hanger Outlet in Springdale. This led us to conclude that the trucks have become wasted resources. Viewing the research we had collected, our group found that there was great potential in proposing an idea that included the usage of these box trucks.

We asked ourselves how we could utilize these trucks in a way that will alert the younger generation of Goodwill’s mission? How can we create a presence that shows people that Goodwill is about aiding the Austin community and will do whatever it takes to reach out to it? We concluded with our own mission statement: “Our goal is to efficiently utilize Goodwill's resources in order to strengthen community presence and mission awareness.” This brought about Goodwheels. Goodwheels would be a box truck transformed into a “mobile” Goodwill that travels to local Austin events, both large and small. For example, Austin City Limits and Fun Fun Fun Fest are great large local events that would attract a younger crowd. We then thought of a smaller, more consistent event, First Thursdays, which is held every first Thursday of each month on Congress Avenue where several vendors participate. It’s an event that would create consistency for Goodwheels’ route each month. Finally, the smallest events we prepared Goodwheels to travel to are Youth Sports League games in neighborhoods in Austin. This would be a great opportunity for those who have no access to transportation to go to Goodwill to experience Goodwill’s community presence firsthand. Our slogan, “Goodwheels…delivering opportunity to your community” reinforces what it fulfills: community presence, mission awareness, and an efficient use of resources.

We went to the Blue Hanger Outlet in Springdale multiple times to obtain measurements of the cargo space and how many employees are needed to set up Goodwheels. The height of the cargo space is approximately eight feet high. The width is about seven feet long and the length is about 24 feet long. There can be a maximum of three employees that sit in the truck. We created Goodwheels with these confinements in mind.

The exterior design of the truck uses vibrant colors of Goodwill, while still keeping it simple and clear with minimal text. The sides employ dynamic concentric circle patterns that create a visually engaging composition. The rear of the truck continues that design but only includes the contact information, which is clearly and legibly printed. The original design is an example of the visual clutter seen in many of Goodwill’s graphics.

The current interior includes a metal tracking system within the cargo space used to tie down the duratainers. Our redesign employs this existing system to give Goodwill less work when preparing the truck. The straps used have a metal piece that securely attaches to the tracking. We decided to use these metal pieces to create a clothing display that will be modular. It can be placed in any truck with the tracking. In addition, since this tracking encompasses the whole space, the display can be interchangeable in location and size. This would be convenient for any employee setting up the box truck. The interior includes lighting, storage boxes for transportation, a small dressing area in the back, a mirror display, and a donation box. The color theme in the interior is consistent with the exterior as well.

What are the criteria for what will be selected for Goodwheels? It would sell items that are already priced and on the floor at any Goodwill. Depending on the event, the type of merchandise that is selected will vary. For example, if the truck were to go to Goodwheels, clothes that appeal to a younger public would be selected. From Carrie’s and Giulio’s interviews, we discovered that Goodwill has many young experienced volunteers and employees that can determine what type of clothing attracts the stylish younger crowd. Our group decided that Goodwheels would essentially hold usually only clothing. However, there are opportunities (Youth Sports Leagues) to sell other items such as books and stuffed animals.

Because Goodwheels’ focus is reaching out and educating the community about its mission, we also included a unique feature, the “Donate Your Story” Board. This feature is an interactive medium that unites an individual with Goodwill and its community. It allows individuals to share how Goodwill has impacted their lives. One suggestion we received was to encourage people to donate their stories. To give them the incentive to donate, we would have to start this process by posting an existing personal story onto the board. This would be a vital part in Goodwill since its goal is to build personal relationships with its community and the individuals who have been positively impacted by Goodwill.

When operating at an event, the donation box and cashier counter will be positioned outside of the truck. Also, removable lights that will be put in place by a Goodwheels employee after arriving at an event will illuminate the truck. Power will be provided by possibly a solar powered generator because it is environmentally friendly and cost efficient. This is possible because a similar vendor, the “Big Rig Vintage” that was powered by solar panels has set up at Fun Fun Fun Fest previous years. During the summer, large fans can provide ventilation and lemonade or water can keep shoppers hydrated.

To promote and advertise the Goodwheels campaign, we created two distinct examples of advertising: a door hanger and an event card. The door hanger would be placed in neighborhoods surrounding the event that will notify people prior to when Goodwheels arrives at their neighborhood. The event card is useful because businesses can place them on the front counter for people to pick up if they were interested in the upcoming events. For example, on the “drag” or on Guadalupe, there are many businesses that all college students have access to and would be interested in Goodwheels. The cards would undoubtedly be placed in businesses where Goodwheels will set up at.

Finally, Goodwheels fits in perfectly as another filter in Goodwill’s current circulation system. Not only can it be a valuable entity within the system to boost community presence and mission awareness, it can collect more donations at events and can yield more revenue. This revenue can later provide for additional job opportunities and programs to enhance the lives of people who have barriers to employment which in the end, reinforces Goodwill’s mission.

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