Every monday morning comes, and with it, the reunion of office workers with their assorted stationery items, desk artifacts and general objets de travail. If you work in an office, if you have your own desk, chances are that at least one item on it bears the Niceday inscription, even if it is only the stapler you borrowed from a fellow worker. Two years ago.

But where do these things come from? Why do they never work as well as you want? And why do they keep disappearing? Allow me to answer all these questions¹.

Sometime in the last years of the last century, W H Smith bought five office supply companies. Looking for an energising brand name to tie their new supply conglomerate together, they approached Interbrand, who promised to come up with a name better than their own².

Interbrand suggested Niceday, W H Smith were sold. Of course, a brand is more than just a name. As Interbrand explain:

"Niceday’s strategy revolves round the idea of transforming office life rather than the supply of office products. A distinctive name and a visual identity using wit and humour broke the ice inside and outside the company"
All of which explains why my Medium Duty Office Perforator (cat no.185686) is constantly cracking jokes, and is such a hit at society parties.

In April 1996 the jokes had evidently worn thin, and W H Smith sold their Business Supplies business to Guilbert of France for £131.5m (£10.5 million less than had been anticipated).

Since 1996, Guilbert has been "successfully deploying its own Niceday brand throughout Europe". The brand now includes the Niceday Dog, taken from an original 1991 design by cartoonist Charles Barsotti³.

The Guilbert catalogue contains around 9000 items, including filing cabinets, multidrawer cabinets, Side Opening Tambour Cupboards, Conductive anti-glare glass filters, and Low Noise Carton Tape (made from heavy duty polypropylene, with a smooth quiet release with easy unwind). Of these, around 2300 carry the Niceday brand in one of its three incarnations. Niceday Premier is what to buy if you're after top of the range stationery, and require "lasting quality" and "exceptional performance". A nice 5-part set of Niceday Premium Multipart Dividers (cat no. 181492) will set you back £2.13, but should add a touch of class to your paperwork.

From the Niceday Everday range, a similar set of Multipart Dividers 5 part (cat no. 181368), on the other hand, will only set you back 68p. "Top quality at everyday prices" indeed. As a bonus, you get illustrations of the Niceday Dog on the packaging - "bringing a little humour into everyone's office". Which is a bonus, although the word "little" should not be overlooked.

If you're really cheap thrifty, you should opt for the n2 brand, however. The same multipart dividers (cat no. 181286) will only set you back 61p. For the environmentally conscious, there's also the Niceday Environment range. I'd give you the multipart divider price from that range, but 1) I don't know it, and 2) You wouldn't want to put a price on the health of the planet would you?

  1. Excluding question two and question three
  2. Interbrand's actual tender probably wasn't phrased exactly like this
  3. A selection of Barsotti's work is viewable at http://www.barsotti.com

Guilbert, and Niceday can be found at http://www.guilbert.com

Interbrand, meanwhile, explain Niceday at http://www.brandchannel.com/interbrand/

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