A name change and marketing makeover turned into a bonanza of market understanding for a Denver remodeler. As a result, Rick Pratt, of the newly renamed Classic Homeworks, expects to continue his 25% annual growth rate. That should pay off the effort, not inexpensive at $25,000, which was mostly for graphic design and printing.

Pratt started modestly, seeking to improve on "CC&A Construction Co." and to develop an identity in tune with the company's desire to work on pre-World War I homes in select neighborhoods. Four University of Denver MBA students each put 80 hours into a thesis to develop demographic research and marketing plans, at no cost to Pratt. They also wrote a survey, which Pratt tweaked, about the name change and to gather demographics. He surveyed 180 past customers and got 70 responses.

Surprisingly, he discovered his customers' average household income was well under the $100,000-plus he thought they earned and that they buy Japanese or domestic cars, hanging on to them for six years or more. This helped him focus marketing on true prospects. "We purposefully 'down-design' our stuff to look 'not expensive,'" he says. "The key is to look professional and competent but also budget-conscious and efficient."

The students concocted the winning "Homeworks" name, but Pratt got the "Classic" part from brainstorming with his salesperson, a paid writer, and two paid artists. The new look and platform for growth are also evidenced on his Web site, www.ClassicHomeworks.com, which provides the company with 15% of its leads. Pratt figures his investment will pay off as the $1.6-million design/build firm grows and diversifies. "It juiced my energy here to really do the things I always knew should be done," he says of the effort.