What's New at the
RJR is now the Encorus Group!
By Kevin Opp, Director of Marketing & Business Development
In January of this year, I started in a new role as the Director of Marketing and Business Development at RJR Engineering. During my discussions with the President regarding this new position, it was clear that one of the big goals for the future and growth of the firm was the need for a new name and brand.
I’ve done many rebranding campaigns over my career, but this project was unique. I was starting from scratch, not just cleaning up bad font choices and symbols, but looking at a clean slate, a white sheet of paper. It was an interesting process, so I thought it was worth documenting and sharing.
Why was this change was necessary? From discussions with the President, I learned:
- the current company name, RJR Engineering, no longer represented the firm’s full-service offerings (the company had grown beyond engineering services to include civil testing and inspection services.
- as the company continued to grow beyond the borders of New York State, it was discovered the RJR name could not be copyrighted because of other similarly named firms
- in a sea of engineering firms in Western New York–most named for their founder or major shareholders – it was time to differentiate RJR with a name that stood out from the competition.
As mentioned, I’ve done many identity projects, but always with given content. Naming a company or product requires a highly skilled practitioner to do it right. There are many firms who specialize in this linguistic craft (and their fees range widely) and after much research to find the right partner for this project, I contracted with River+Wolf, a small, woman-owned firm in New York City. Margaret Wolf walked me through the process, the timeline and the costs associated with each step.
For River+Wolf to better understand our needs, our firm, our services and our differentiation in the marketplace, we completed an informational “Intake Form.” From this form and a few phone interviews, River+Wolf went into their think tank and a few weeks later delivered a presentation of over 70 different naming options, subdivided into naming routes that mapped to our original creative brief.
Imagine walking into the ice cream shop that offers 70+ flavors and you’re told to pick your favorite 20-25. Which ones just sound (taste) right to you? So, that was our task – we sampled them all and picked a short list of 20-25 that we sent back to Margaret. Those selections were then screened by their legal team and we were presented with a shorter list of names that were “available to trademark”, “potentially available to trademark” and to return to my ice cream metaphor, “sold out” or “not available to trademark.”
We were now down to about 12 names. And I should mention that the “we” was just the President and myself. A project such as naming is best done by the fewest people possible. Design and (naming by committee) frequently leads to indecision, lackluster ideas and frustration. From these 12, we settled on two (and then called in Margaret to help cast her vote.) We had a winning flavor!
From 70 names, we arrived at one. Depending on budgets and timelines, many firms may select to screen hundreds of names for their new firm and product – but with that many options it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to generate that necessary shortlist for screening.
The Encorus Group
After settling on our new name, we engaged Lombard+Geliebter, a NYC legal team that specializes in intellectual property law and specifically getting new company and product names through the USPTO process. Last month we filed applications for our new name and logo. We have been told it will take up to a year before we receive full registration for our name and in the interim we are protected through our TM identification on the logo.
While the legal team was actively searching for ‘availability,’ I was actively involved in bringing shape and form to our new name. After much research, brainstorming, conceptualization and refinement (the design process), I arrived at our new ‘signature’ – which is a combination of the brandmark and logotype.
The symbolism within the brandmark included:
- Three layers to communicate the three operating divisions of the company.
- Strong red stripes suggesting a waving flag – acknowledging our SDVOSB status.
- A succession of line weights from thin to thick, suggesting a positive moving direction, possibly an engineering process, and a resulting bold “E” letterform – the end product of the process.
The name “Encorus” also contains pertinent references:
- EN for engineering
- ENCOR suggests our ability to win repeat work (great client relationships)
- CORE for essential, getting to the core of a problem
- CORUS suggests “chorus”, a bringing together of many parts into a harmonious and functioning whole
After several months of the creative process – selecting the name and making it ‘visual’, we are now in the thick of the application phase. Over the next several months, our new identity system will take its form. Decisions in regards to font families, design grids, color palettes, and multiple signatures will be developed. The touchpoints of the brand system (website, sales collateral, business stationery, signage, vehicles, etc) will be designed and produced in a timely, but ‘as needed’ basis.
Implementing a new system can be a very costly venture. So, we have carefully scheduled how the roll-out will occur and have focused on the most critical elements needed first (such as business collateral and the new website.)
The new site will go live on August 1st. A targeted direct mail and social media campaign is planned to announce our new name in late July. Signage has been ordered and the marketing team is focused on the redesign of many external/internal forms and other collateral.
Welcome to the all new, Encorus Group!