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Not Just For Blueprints Anymore

There is no doubt that a well recognized brand helps identify companies — to each other, to their customers, in the marketplace and to the wider world. There is a challenge, though, for service companies whose founders defined them by the market they served, and are now faced with relating their identity to the services they perform.

When my company was founded in 1929 it was a Blueprint Company. Everyone knew what that meant — when buildings were built contractors needed blueprints to build them. Offset printers had to confine their products to sheet sizes that would fit on a press — blueprints were typically somewhere between two by three feet to three by four feet . Blueprinters, then, were those companies who could print those large sheets needed for architects, engineers and contractors to communicate their information to be built.

As the technology to produce those oversize prints evolved, digital images from computer generated drafting and design programs replaced the hand drafted originals from drafting tables, and the print engines that distributed toner rather than ink were adapted to print wide sheets quickly and affordably. Blueprints were not the only things that could be printed on these large digital printers — and the prints weren’t blue anymore either!  Although the toner based digital equipment was initially monochrome, there are now a wide variety of color imaging devices in our shop.  It is really most accurate to say that we reproduce graphic(hence Reprographics) images, and that pushes the doors wide open.

Digital toner-based images on wide format materials certainly CAN be blueprints, but they can also be renderings, banners, posters, corporate meeting graphics, blowups of family photos, yard signs, construction site graphics, . . . you get the picture.

Does that mean we aren’t printing blueprints anymore? Of course not — it is still the primary market that we serve.  But we also produce large format graphics for other markets, and are developing digital services to manage graphic data through Web portals and over the Internet.

So this is our millennium challenge — define this brand that represents multi-format graphic imaging and digital asset management.  The jury is still out on this work in progress but we are not alone.  Service providers who survive from generation to generation do so because they adapt with the times.  Blueprinters are Reprographic companies!  We will continue to produce the large format images that build buildings and serve those new markets who can benefit from the technology we employ.  And as we grow into those markets our brand will once again come into focus.

Cathie Cushing Duff

One of the third generation membership owners at Cushing, Cathie has been active in the organization since 1975. A graduate of the University of Toronto (St. Michael’s College) she attended the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Illinois School of Business. A Past President of the North Central Reprographic Association and International Reprographic Association, she has served on the ReproMAX Association and Chicago Family Business Council Boards. When not exploring print and digital communications, her passions are family, knitting and crocheting. Visit Cathie’s Google + profile.

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