One of the more interesting changes at the start of 2011 was the name change of St. Bernard Software to Edgewave. The idea was to use the transaction involving Red Condor to refresh the brand. The results were not as promising. For those not familiar with the IT Marketplace for Small Businesses, there are 100s of small firms out there competing to get people's attention. This leads us to the discussion of Branding.
In many ways, I think Branding is an overused term by Marketing Consultants. Branding is important. It is very important. But you can't make branding directly through Marketing. This is where things get overdone by many consultants. What you can do is utilize your branding or introduce your branding. Why do I say that? Especially in today's world of Yelp and other social media reviews, your actions will hold a lot more value than any words. So, I want to back up to what Branding means to a small business - reputation. In a small business, you are not likely to be a dominant player in your category. You aren't Coke or McDonalds or Xerox. But you do want people to know who you are and what you stand for. When people ask, I tell them that this Blog is all about personal Branding. Because I want folks out there to think about me not just as a technologist, but as an experience Executive.
When you start your company, you need to have a view of your ideal client, the products and services you wish to bring them, and the differentiation within the market. The intersection of those elements are the start of your branding. From there you work to find two things. The easier part is to find a symbol, a name, a set of values and a description of what you do to tell your customers and prospects about you. The harder part is that your company has to live those values every day. That is the hard news about Branding. If you don't live those values every day, then any work that you have done gets destroyed. Higher up in this article I wrote some company names that you recognize. Let me add some more: BP, Halliburton, and Enron. At a gut level, do just the names of those companies give you a reaction? Was the reaction different than for Coke?
In your own market, you can lose control of your Branding. When I was at AFC, we called the product the UMC-1000. We did some chassis updates and changed the name to EMAX. Many of our smaller customers just called the product "The AFC". Anybody who was a user of the product could connect to the name and knew what it meant. Right,wrong or indifferent - it was what we were.
So, how does this relate back to Edgewave? Well, imagine getting a call from a company that you have never heard of before? Do you take that cold call? Imagine that this was actually just a rename of your existing supplier. Would you be confused? Well a lot of St. Bernard Customers were. And St. Bernard had litterally 1000s of customers. I used to hear the number 8,000. That might be high. Even if it is 5,000, imagine a company of about 100 people trying to reach out to all of them about the name change. But wait! There's more! Yes, we changed stock symbols. Not only were the customers confused, but investors were as well. The few stock trades in St. Bernard Stock went to 0 when the Stock Ticker symbol changed. St. Bernard Software (which had started doing desktop back-up software to rescue customers) 20 year Branding was gone.
All of that over a little Branding. Maybe this Branding thing is a big deal.
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