Monday, January 16, 2012

Does the name of your company truly reflect the direction of your company?

An article about Washington Reprographics, now known as PrintScape Imaging & Graphics, appeared in the July 8th, 2011 edition of Pittsburgh Business Times (which is a member of the Business Journals group).

Although this article appeared about half a year ago, the subject matter of the article – the “name change” from “Washington Reprographics” to “PrintScape Imaging & Graphics” – is, I think, still a very relevant issue for reprographers to consider.

Does the name of your reprographics company still include the word, “blueprinting” or the word “blueprints”? Or, did you finally change your name to eliminate blueprinting/blueprints from your company’s name? And, if you did, did you go with the word “reprographics”? And, if you did that, does the term “reprographics” fit your current business well?

After all, “what’s in a name”? And, is the name of your business really all that important?

Well, I do believe that names are important, especially if your business has morphed into one that offers services beyond traditional “reprographics” services for the A/E/C Industry. Many, many reprographers have changed their names in an effort to gain wider appeal and recognition within the industries they want to pursue business.

Should one of your New Year’s resolutions be to think hard about whether your company’s current name reflects what your company offers? Perhaps you should consider changing your company’s name, or, if not that, perhaps you should consider “how to brand” the non-A/E/C services your company offers.

Here’s the text of the article that appeared in the Pittsburgh Business Times ….

The name pretty much said it all for Washington Reprographics, a 34-year-old business based in Washington, Pa., that reproduced drawings for architects and engineers.

Except that hadn’t been the case for several years. Its headquarters were in Robinson Township, with other offices in Downtown Pittsburgh, Canonsburg and Morgantown, W.Va. And 70 percent of its revenue came from new sources — signs, banners and other graphics.

John Dziak, who joined Washington Reprographics in 1988 as a salesman, acquired the company in 2004 and effectively augmented the business model.

“Reprography was its own sort of animal,” Dziak said. “We almost solely focused on the architectural and construction market, and, for years, that was our bread and butter.”

But it also was a volatile business model because the building sector is cyclical.

“The revenue swung month to month and it drove me nuts,” he said.

So Dziak expanded the business into other sectors, providing digital printing and online document management, as well as creative graphics solutions for interior design, retail and public venues, including producing colorful, wall-sized graphics for the Consol Energy Center , the Heinz History Center and the Carnegie Science Center. That evened out the money flow and increased sales, which topped $5 million last year.

But the name was a sticking point. It no longer fit and, worse, confused new and potential clients. By late 2009, Dziak realized a change had to be made.

“We felt it was something we needed to pursue from talking to customers about how they found us,” Dziak said. “We had people telling us, ‘Wow. I never would have found you with the name you have.’ If you ask a dozen people about reprographics, half won’t have any idea what that means.”

It took seven months of preparation to position the company as Printscape Imaging & Graphics in March. In addition to the name and new logo, Dziak said, there was a good deal of behind the scenes scrambling.

“We had to make the website functional and running because that’s the first place people go,” he said. “We had a punch list of different touches to reach customers, including direct marketing, direct mail and e-blasts. And we had to be sure the employees and delivery drivers had the right message.”

Almost immediately, Printscape saw an increase in queries from potential clients and a bump-up in business.

“We’ve received more responses,” Dziak said. “Even the regular customers said, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’”

It also paves the way for Printscape to build in new directions, services-wise and geographically. Dziak would like to draw more national business.

Printscape also is poised to make acquisitions. In April, it acquired Visual Impact Graphics, a Robinson-based signmaker and vehicle graphics company.

Best of all, sales are up nearly 10 percent compared to a year ago, and profit has increased.

“We can do just about anything we want with a name like Printscape, whether it’s different types of printing, different applications, or working outside of this area,” Dziak said.

Ann Dugan, assistant dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, said changing a name that no longer reflects the company effectively is often part of a business’s evolution.

“A lot of times, people don’t give a lot of attention to what their name means,” she said. “You have to evaluate your identity. Ask what your brand is telling you and what it’s saying to the public.”

She said it’s crucial to build a marketing plan around the name change.

“You lessen the risk that someone is going to leave you or a previous customer can’t find you,” Dugan said.

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