By Ed Avis
Name changes are common in the reprographics industry, since the technology and market positioning of many firms is always shifting. But few companies go through as rigorous a process as NRI did over the past couple of years.
“We had to come up with a name that was inclusive enough to work for our color business, our 3D printing business, and our traditional document management/reprographics business,” says Doug Magid, president of BluEdge, which is what NRI is now called. “It was a big challenge.”
BluEdge began as National Blueprint Company in 1898, and had changed its name a couple of times over the subsequent decades to match the changing industry landscape. The evolution of the industry over the past decade – including the growing importance of color and 3D printing – prompted Magid and his colleagues to consider more name changes.
“It’s funny how it came about,” Magid says. “What we intended to do was brand our 3D printing business, because it was growing and catered to a different target market. We already had rebranded our color business as Rethink Color a couple of years ago, and we felt it was time to spin off the 3D business as a separate brand as well.”
Magid assembled an internal group to shepherd the process. It included himself, CTO More McCormick; Justin Levitz, director of 3D technologies; and Adam Schaeffer, marketing director.
When NRI created a separate brand for its color business, the rebranding occurred internally. But because the 3D market is so different, they decided to bring in an outside branding firm to handle that change. After interviewing several firms, they chose Bernhardt Fudyma Design Group.
Before approaching the drawing board, the team from Bernhardt Fudyma dove into NRI’s business.
“They did a lot of research,” Magid remembers. “I didn’t realize it was going to be that intensive of a process. They really came in and understood our business. They spoke to us, spoke to our clients, and really learned who we are.”
When the brand consultants finished that process, they came to Magid with a surprising recommendation: Instead of just branding the 3D business, they suggested folding the color business back into the company, keeping the 3D business there, and rebranding the whole company.
That plan made sense to Magid and his colleagues. “Internally we felt the company was getting too siloed,” he says. “We are one company, and wanted to feel that way. And we got good input on our brand and decided it just made the most sense to move back to one brand.”
The Aha! Moment
Once the decision was made to change the whole company’s name, the challenge of finding the right name came into focus. They wanted something more inclusive than NRI.
“The feedback on the NRI brand was that it was a wonderful name, but it was challenging for us to grow the new services under a brand with a reputation in reprographics,” Magid explains. “We were pigeon-holed with the perception that we were only a reprographics firm.”
The brand consultants quizzed Magid and his team about what kind of name they wanted. “They asked us what types of names we liked and didn’t like,” he says. “Did we want the name to be a real word? Should the name say what we do? Can it be a made-up word? A compound of two words? And what kind of feeling are we trying to create?”
Then the consultants brainstormed. They came up with over a thousand possible names, and winnowed those down to the best 15. Magid and his colleagues rejected all of them.
“Before they came back with the second round of names, we thought maybe we would rebrand the company with the existing name,” he says. “We didn’t want to replace the name unless we found something that worked.”
They told the Bernhardt Fudyma team what they didn’t like about that first group of 15, so the consultants had a bit more direction as they prepped the second round. When they came back with more names, BluEdge struck a chord.
“When they presented BluEdge, I would say there was definitely an ‘aha!’ moment,” Magid says. “Everyone around the table gravitated to that name. All along we had been speaking about the fact that we are on the leading edge of technology. And we wanted our marketing to be edgy, not conservative corporate marketing. So the word ‘edge’ seemed like a very apropos choice. And we felt ‘blue’ was a nice, subtle tie-in to our historical roots. So we felt the name tied together our past, present, and future.”
Digital? No Thanks
Developing a tagline was much easier than finding the right name, Magid says. They wanted something that described their business concisely and without clichés – Pixels\Particles\People does the job.
“They (the consultants) came up with ‘pixels,’” Magid says. “A lot of our work is digital, but we didn’t want the word ‘digital’ in the name, because it’s so overused and unoriginal. ‘Particles’ is part of the tagline because we produce a physical product. At the end of the day the majority of our revenue comes from printed products – CAD, 3D, color inkjet. The physical product is very much of who we are, and we are not trying to get away from that. And ‘people,’ that’s our competitive advantage, the experts who make it all happen.”
More Than a Name
The name is perhaps the most visible change at the company, but Magid did not want to announce a new name without some substantial business improvements to back it up. So they rolled out some new products, such as 3D scanning and virtual reality, and created a new website with improved content and navigation (click here to see the new site).
“With the slate of improvements we could really say that it’s not just a new name – we’ve got more to offer and we’ve improved our client experience,” he says.
How have all the changes been received? Everyone seems happy, Magid says.
“The reaction has been very positive, both from clients and internally. And it was very important to us that our associates felt good about it – if the name didn’t get our associates excited, it wasn’t going to work,” Magid says. “But they have been behind the name, and the clients have given us great feedback, too.”
Watch a video starring Magid talking about the new name here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm6ZUfL7mq8