2017 Marks 35 Years as North America’s Top Name Badge Supplier
Imprint Plus™ Firsts
Imprint Plus™ was the first to invent the magnet backed name badge, the first to position name badges as a corporate marketing tool, and the first to create tag topper that offer brand messaging opportunities. We were also the first to sell name badges in a branded do-it-yourself kit, the first to go green and create a professional option in the reusable name badge category, and the first to use domed reusable lenscovers to protect the badge and project the brand. The company has grown into a successful, global company with over 19,000 clients in almost 31,000 locations worldwide. Imprint Plus™ plans to continue its legacy of firsts, and become the first owner of the professional and reusable name badge market categories.
Imprint Plus™ Milestones
1982 – The first dollar earned
1990 – First to couple magnetic fasteners with name badges
1994 – Highlighted in Fortune Magazine’s “Products to Watch” list
1995 – Invented the Lenscover©
1996 – Focused on product reusability and recyclability
1999 – Released NamePrint Graphics name badge design software
2001 – First year included on Profit 100’s “Top Canadian Women Entrepreneurs” list
2003 – Celebrated 20th Anniversary with 36% overall sales growth
2004 – Earned seven patents related to The Reusable Name Badge kit
2007 – CEO Marla Kott named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist
2008 – Named the Top 50 in Profit 100’s “Top Canadian Women Entrepreneurs” list
2009 – Re-branded, awarded gold from the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), diversity certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE)
2010 – Launched new product line the Mighty Badge™ exclusively for distributors and resellers
2011 – Launched new product line YouWho™, a professional name badge system in retailers across North America including Staples, Office Depot, and Amazon.com
2012 – Re-launched Imprint Plus™ website
2013 – WeConnect Canada – Winner of the Ambassador Award
2014 – Winner of the 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year Award
In 1982 Imprint Plus™ started up as a mom and pop metal working shop that operated out of the basement of a friend; name badges were only one of the product lines. Eight years after its inception, the company was struggling financially; the owner at the time, Ellen Flanders, asked Marla Kott to invest. Marla kept the company afloat with a $20,000 capital investment, a personal bank guarantee, and contributions through her active silent partnership.
Together, Marla and Ellen became the badge babes. They noticed a lose-lose division between permanent and reusable badges: on one hand, permanent badges offered a professional appearance and durable design, however the inconvenience of custom-ordering and shipping costs were enough to turn customers towards a cheap, immediate solution; and that’s exactly what happened. Unfortunately, the quick-fix reusable sticky badge option looked cheap and could never stay stuck. Lifted corners and sloppy hand written designs simply would not cut it in professional settings.
The seas were split and Imprint Plus™ entered the market with a product that preserved the good and eliminated the bad: a name badge that had the quality and appearance of a professionally engraved badge and the convenience, immediacy and affordability of the reusable alternative.
Still working as an accountant in Quebec, Marla spent her holidays selling product in Toronto, and attending trade shows around North America with Ellen. 1996 was a landmark year for Imprint Plus™; the company developed an innovative printing system for getting names and titles on badges. The Imprint Plus™ name badge printing method worked well for companies with 500+ employees at one location, but its cost and complicated hardware were viewed as “overkill” for smaller companies. The seed was planted, and Imprint Plus™ now had a niche, but the product needed to be refined and simplified.
In 2000, Marla decided to give up her C.A. partnership and become the full-time CEO for Imprint Plus™. Marla’s initial strategy was to clearly understand the customer requirements and to redesign the delivery of product in a manner best suited to each of the critical industries serviced by Imprint Plus™. The critical industries at that time included hotels, cruise lines, casinos, retail, chain and department stores, and banking. These industries expected a high level of care and customization in software, ordering, delivery, packaging, printing and post purchase support. This industry list has since grown to include all businesses with front line employment.
This strategy, coupled with extensive research into the name badge offerings of competitive companies, led to an increase in the product offerings, new packaging and marketing strategy. In 2000, Imprint Plus™ developed a new name badge program for PC computers. Much cheaper than its ancestor, the new simple program was an easy sell to companies of all sizes and with any number of locations.
Innovation has been the fundamental principle of the company since its inception over thirty years ago. The corporate priority has been to build better name badges and name badge systems that easily adapt with new technological developments, and to the ever-evolving needs and wants of our customers.
Imprint Plus focus and strategy can be best described with two words: Growth and change. We operate according to trend growth, and work to break the trend; we evaluate trends annually, and create a budget based on those numbers. Imprint Plus™ sells directly or indirectly [through distributors] to 66 countries. Over the past ten years, Imprint Plus™ has developed an extraordinarily large customer base of over 35,000 in 21 target industries. Our Research & Development continues to lead the pack in innovative software and products, which allows marketing and sales to sell new products to existing customers in addition to developing new business.
CEO Marla Kott would like Imprint Plus™ to own the reusable name badge category. Imprint Plus™ name badges can be described as brand collateral, a sales and networking tool, and customer experience-enhancing. Her plan is to grow between 20% and 40% every year, and adapt to accommodate this growth.
Growth involves sales, innovation, copyrights and patents, and market and country penetration. Change involves diverse procedures, people and selling, distribution and customer support strategies. Altogether, this leads to an exciting and fast-paced corporate culture.
- Capitalize on opportunities for growth in existing and new markets
- Empower and educate employees
- Focus on upward mobility within the company
- Adopt a more agile approach to business; share profits
- Be flexible and responsive to changing market environments
- Exploit opportunities for continued growth via distribution and new products