Two-Minute Drill: Applied Innovation Moniker Addresses World Beyond Print and Copy

In the last 10-15 years, there’s been a huge marketing movement toward reinvigorating the lens through which customers view their providers. It’s a case of perception is reality, and history is replete with names (RadioShack, Blockbuster Video) of companies that went down with their brand ship (to be fair, RadioShack continues online). The key, of course, is ensuring the name conveys, at least in part, a broader understanding of what a product/service provider is all about.

Casey Lowery, Applied Innovation

A few weeks back, Applied Imaging of Grand Rapids, Michigan, announced it was changing its name to Applied Innovation. In this edition of Two-Minute Drill, we spoke with Casey Lowery, chief operations officer for Applied Innovation, about the process behind the name change and the importance of leading with a moniker that connotes a commitment to technology while not totally eschewing a mature, if still vital, component.

Talk a little about the motivation behind the name change and some of the driving factors.

Lowery: Back in the 1990s, we were known as Applied Imaging Systems. We dropped Systems in the late ’90s. Leading up to this recent change, we did a study and got in touch with our marketing company. One of the driving factors was the fact that we had a lot of internal brands that customers maybe didn’t know about, and our cross-selling wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be. We have NetSmart for our IT brand, ShredHub for shredding and PrintSmart for our MPS brand. We had all these disparate brands within Applied and we felt we wanted to make it more cohesive.

From working with our marketing company and the customer study, we discovered there’s a lot of brand equity in the Applied name, but customers felt like “Imaging” dated us. In the process, we learned many clients weren’t aware of our other services. We wanted to pick a name that would allow us to continue to evolve over time and better encompass all of the different technologies we have to offer.

It was a fun team project; we polled all the employees and held an all-managers meeting where we narrowed it down to four. We had a tough time agreeing as a leadership team on which option to choose. So my dad and I got together with the marketing company and we laid out 40 names and came up with Applied Innovation. It’s kind of funny because my dad actually suggested the name Applied Innovate to me a couple of years ago.

What’s been the reaction you’ve received from your clients?

Lowery: We’ve received a lot of really positive feedback. The name “Imaging” did pigeonhole us. I think our customers were ready for us to kind of transition to the next gen and the future. Innovation allows us, regardless of the space we continue in going forward, to really reinvent ourselves. It also forces us to not stagnate; if we don’t innovate, then we’re going to be in trouble with that name out there.

That’s definitely been a movement that’s been afoot for quite a while; whether it’s office imaging or printing companies, there’s a reluctance to be associated with some of the more traditional aspects of business. The desire is to represent new and growing technologies.

Lowery: There’s no doubt about it. When you think about diversification in general, we definitely think print has a strong future for a long time. But you cannot ignore the fact that it is declining. So we want to make sure we’re preparing ourselves to make the jump to the next gen and into the future. For us, it was less about getting out of the imaging space. We love the imaging space. It has more to do with cross-selling, and we wanted to make sure our customers could be cognizant of the full breadth of services we offer, and not just print. They need to see us as the technology company that we are, and we feel this name will help underscore that notion.

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.