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Cinde W. Ingram

The name game

Northcape directs dealers toward the mark

NorthcapeNorthcape's leaders Tom murray and Bill Wenzel want to create a consistent image for the manufacturer they built, but dealers still refer to their best-selling supplier as one of its former monikers such as Chicago Wicker or Cape May.
Casual Living asked how this confusion came about and what the company is doing to remedy it.

Q CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW THE COMPANY BECAME KNOWN BY ALL OF THESE NAMES? HOW DID THOSE NAMES COME TO BE?

     A: When we started in Chicago, our original intention was to be a regional supplier of wicker case goods (dressers, headboards and rattan seating), carrying on the wholesale business developed from Cape May. Once we made the move to outdoor furniture we turned our attention to a more national presence and we moved away from our original Chicago Wicker and Cape May Wicker roots, to the broader NorthCape International.

Q WHEN WAS THE COMPANY NAME CHANGED TO NORTHCAPE? WHY WAS THAT NAME SELECTED?

     A: We started using North- Cape and NCI in 2002, but our legal entities remain Chicago Wicker and Cape May Wicker. Our original location in Chicago was just off North Avenue and the Cape is naturally from Cape May - so our regional heritage continues in the NorthCape name.
     Cape May Wicker is also a retail store. This storefront is not part of NorthCape, though ownership is connected, in practice, the Cape May Wicker retail store is a customer of NorthCape.

Q WHAT HAS THE COMPANY DONE (OR WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW) TO TRY TO EDUCATE YOUR CUSTOMERS AND THE END-CONSUMER TO RECOGNIZE THE CURRENT BRAND AS NORTHCAPE?

     A: Our focus has primarily been on our dealers understanding who we are. We recognize that NorthCape is not a household name, nor is that our intention. We have consistently used the NorthCape and NCI names in our advertising and trade show efforts, also all our marketing materials use our common brand. The Chicago Wicker and Cape May names primarily surface with our longest standing customers or are noticed on documents like packing lists, invoices and checks where both names are referenced.

Q WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S BEEN SO DIFFICULT AND TIME-CONSUMING TO GET DEALERS TO SWITCH OVER TO USING THE NEW NAME?

     A: Most of our dealers understand and it has not been too difficult or confusing operationally, but for new customers it has been more of a challenge. As you have pointed out, when a customer is giving us a referral, we want them to use a consistent name.
     In practice, we like North- Cape or NCI to be interchangeable; it's the Chicago Wicker and Cape May Wicker pieces that create confusion. We really want customers to think of Chicago and Cape May as two of our five North American distribution points versus a company name - that is what we are striving for.

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