Building a brand that stands out from the crowd is some achievement but with its signature pink hippopotamus, Wakefield based Hippoprint has an identity that's as strong as its product. When that product is an absolute guarantee of next day delivery on its ever expanding range of printed materials, it's important to keep to it, so company owner Anthony Wood is totally committed to investing in the right systems and technology.
With products that encompass everything from traditional business stationery and leaflets, to stickers, pull up banners and t-shirts, Hippoprint's wide format capabilities are understandably strong. Currently on a program of replacing its printer arsenal with Mimaki solutions, Wood was party to an early look at the new JV400-160SUV on a recent visit to Mimaki's UK and Irish distributor, Hybrid Services with reseller Granthams.
The new machine had only just arrived in the showroom, but so impressed was Wood with the trials the Hybrid and Granthams technicians were running – and based on his positive experience with existing Mimaki equipment – he ordered one on the spot.
"Being the first print company in the UK to install a 1.6m JV400-SUV means we stay at the forefront of the rapid turnaround sector," says Wood. "We need the capability to instantly finish prints and get them to our customers the next day."
Rising to the challenge
The Mimaki JV400-SUV features a substantial colour gamut, unique glossy print and a highly durable finish – perfect for work that Wood envisages Hippoprint producing. "We frequently supply high colour posters and pull up banners with large ink loads but it can be a real challenge to finish them the same day as they're printed," he says. "The SUV means we can print and send within a matter of minutes and with 95% of our orders coming late in the day, it takes a little bit of the pressure off."
Now employing over 20 staff, the company was formed in 2009 when Wood – having rescued another print business some five years previously – was approached to create a web to print setup from the ashes of a further print company. With web design skills in house, the company invested heavily in a bespoke back end and started off building a brand that's unique in the UK printing market. "None of our competitors have Hippoprint’s structure and approach to business," suggests Wood. "Very few people really understand the value of integrated marketing so we try to practice what we preach."
Customer service key to retention
Retaining customers can be a test for any online business, but Wood has created a real loyalty from customers who have bought into his ethos. "We're here to provide the absolute best service for our customers so we'll do crazy things to ensure it happens," he says. Whether that's meeting customer's trains with boxes of business cards as they travel through railway stations or swapping unused stocks of obsolete paper for homemade cake with local artists and schools, it's a commitment that's paying off. An order from Kensington Palace appeared in his inbox recently, proving that a combination of great customer reviews and a significant investment in marketing goes a long way to getting royal approval.
"We take a pride in our niche," concludes Wood. "Hippoprint is simply about being the best and fastest printers."