If you know that my business was once called Beach Signs then this may interest you
This was originally posted on Friday, July 1, 2011 at my blogspot
This is my wholehearted attempt to justify to others why I changed the company name. First let me say that the biggest critic of changing the name was me. Ok, maybe my wife edged me out a little but the decision was for me a very difficult one.
I will digress just a little to share with you the history of the company from the beginning and reveal that this was not the first name change. When I was a newly married man of 21 years old I decided I wanted to be a sign painter. To get headed in the right direction I spent a day visiting a sign painter I knew in Fredericksburg, VA to get some pointers and then spent the following months practicing. Eventually I picked up a few sign painting jobs in the Northern Neck part of the state where I lived but felt the area couldn’t sustain me. So about a year later in 1981 I moved to Hampton, VA to seek my dream.
I found employment as a journeyman sign painter at Sign Engineering in Newport News, VA. Looking back I realize that the owner, Fred Dowis must have seen some potential in me because I really was a very slow and very poor hand-letterer. Fred tutored me until I eventually began to get the hang of it. Fred encouraged me to get my own business license, come up with a company name and work for him as a subcontractor. After much deliberation I came up with Vicik’s Sign Painting as my company name.
At the time, computerized sign plotters were just entering the sign market. Because they cost over $10,000.00 each and the fonts were an additional $300.00 each, only the large commercial shops could afford to buy them. Looking back, I am so thankful that I entered the sign business before the computer revolutionized the sign trade, otherwise I would have never entered the trade at all and would never have had a reason to learn to letter by hand.
As the years passed, more and more shops bought computerized vinyl cutters. The general public began to be educated about the differences in vinyl and paint and knew the primary advantage of the vinyl was its easy removal, especially when used on a vehicle. The result was that few customers would allow someone to paint their truck doors because they feared it would hurt the resale value at trade-in time. It was at this point that I took the plunge and bought my first vinyl cutter. Because of this shift in public perception, the term sign painter seemed archaic and I started to view it as a liability instead of an asset. Added to this, the fact that people would misread my truck doors as Vicki’s Sign Painting instead of Vicik’s Sign Painting, I decided a name change was in order.
I came up with the company name Beach Signs on flimsy grounds. At the time I lived in the Buckroe Beach community of Hampton where there existed other companies that identified themselves with the beach; Beach Hardware and Beach Carpet come to mind. However, the real motivation for choosing the name came less from geographical location and more from my perception of what the name “beach” in our area brought to the table. Around here people associate “beach” with Virginia Beach, the resort city a mere half hour drive away where it seems the sun is always shining, the surf is always up and everyone is on vacation. How could I ever go wrong with a name like Beach Signs and all the good feelings it was sure to conjure up?
Admittedly, the name has served me well. It is certainly easy to remember and as of this writing my shop has been located in the heart of the Buckroe community for more than 18 years. So why change it? That’s what everyone asks and the reason for this lengthy blog. I can give several reasons why I wanted to change the name that are debatable at best, but still, reasons.
First, it always bothered me that I couldn’t get beachsigns.com as a web address. The owner of that url is not using it and may never use it but has made it clear to me that he has no intention of ever selling it. That is why I had to get beachsign.com instead and believe me it has caused problems receiving email over the years.
Second is the fact that very recently another sign company from out of state moved to Virginia Beach and changed their name to Beach Signs and Design. About the same time a sign company on the Outer Banks of North Carolina opened under the name Beach Signs. This would be a non issue if I only serviced the peninsula but that is not the case. I have developed the boat lettering segment of my business to include both Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina and have plans to develop the hand-lettering segment as well. It is difficult enough going into a new market from out of town without the confusion of multiple competitors using my company name.
The third reason was simple insecurity about the future. It seemed for a while that I might loose the location I had called home to Beach Signs for so long. If I had to move out of my present building where would I go? Would I even be anywhere near a beach? Even now I don’t know from month to month how much longer I’ll be permitted to stay.
The fourth and final reason has more to do with why I chose the new name as opposed to why I dissed the old. I have been dissatisfied with my role as a sign maker and the sign business for some time now. I will save the details for a future blog, but suffice it to say that the general area where my shop is located brings price shoppers that want cheap signs that most any vinyl shop can throw together. I consider myself an accomplished sign artist and am tiring of the mundane work I’m usually asked to produce. As a result I have been trying of late to redirect my business back toward hand-crafted and hand-lettered signs instead of vinyl cutting. I thought there might be a name out there that would better reflect the new direction I was taking with the business.
So after the decision to change the company name had been made, I had to decide what the new name would be. I spent months (as I said, this decision was a laborious one) jotting down possible names only to find that someone else was either using the name or holding on to the url in hopes of getting rich by selling it for a mint. Of every 20 candidates for names I came up with, maybe one would be available and it was one I thought of, but really didn’t think much of. In other words, it didn’t grab me. Meanwhile, something else was taking place. I was considering not having a shop at all and pulling an enclosed trailer with my sign essentials and becoming a mobile sign company. The name chosen would have to work equally well with either a stationary or mobile sign business.
I wanted a name that made people think of a by-gone era when hand-crafted quality was the norm. I wanted a name that harkened back to the 40s and 50s. Then it hit me, Red Rocket Signs. While it would seem that the name rocket implies fast as in fast signs, instant signs; adding the adjective red changes the concept completely. Red rocket makes one think of the toy rockets baby boomers played with as kids or Marvin the Martian on the old Bugs Bunny cartoon episodes. And given the fact that red has been my company color for years further sold the idea. But the piece de resistance came once I realized the similarity between the shape of an artist’s brush and a rocket. Now I had a clever twist to build on that would further emphasize the fact that I am a sign artist, a sign painter and not just a vinyl cutter. The million dollar question was whether or not the redrocketsigns.com url was even available. I was delighted to find that it was available and I immediately purchased it along with its .net companion.
Am I happy with my decision to change my company name? The jury is still out on that. I had the name Beach Signs about 25 years so it has been agonizingly difficult to let go of it. And I feel that there is a certain stigma attached when a small company changes its name that is not there when the large corporations do it. People wonder if bankruptcy or some legal problem was the real reason for the name change. But the fact is that except for past bank notes on vehicles, I’ve never had any real business debt. I’ve never even tried to get a business loan, preferring to just buy my equipment outright.
Even as I write this the company name is still Beach Signs. I am trying to get all my ducks in a row before the name change becomes official. My new website is in the works as are my new business cards. I’m also adding a flickr® link so that it will be easier to update with pictures of my latest sign projects. Probably, by the time anyone reads this blog the change will be old news.
Should I have changed the company name after 25+ years trading as Beach Signs? And what do you think of the new name and logo? I’m interested in hearing your opinions.