Dr. Sagelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Re-brand
Ok … maybe “love” is a strong word but bear with me here and then feel free to blast me in the comments if you don’t agree. Or for the more disagreeable among you, feel free to blast me even if you do agree.
The details made themselves known over the course of time which has helped squash most of the speculation but hardly any of the concern and fear.
For many, the largest concern on the table is that it’s going to create customer confusion. Personally, I don’t think this will happen but I can understand why some feel that way.
As partners, we are always discussing the products – amongst our own teams, with our clients, with other partners, with Sage, with our spouses, etc.
It’s natural that we partners think in terms of the product.
I don’t think the same is true for most customers though – at least my customers. My customers call it “the system”, “Accpac”, “CRM”, “the Sage program”, “Accpac CRM”, etc. Most of my customers don’t really care about the product name.
They just want to do their jobs.
A related concern to the customer confusion is prospect confusion. To me, this is more serious. People know “MAS”, “Accpac”, “Peachtree”, etc. and will be asking for and looking for those products for a long time. Many of these people won’t necessarily know that they are owned by Sage.
Hopefully this will get sorted out by the branding initiatives spread by Sage, the channel, the media, analysts, etc. People will start to become aware of the new names over time.
How much time this will take is open to debate. People still talk about “Great Plains” when Microsoft re-branded that four (five? six?) years ago as “Dynamics GP”.
Adding to prospect confusion though, I contend that the new product names are so generic that – assuming a prospect knows what they are supposed to be looking for (ex. Sage 100 ERP) – it is going to be difficult to find the proper information sources on the Internet.
A search for “Sage 100″ or “Sage 100 ERP” is going to return a lot of junk and we will be asking our prospects to sort through it. Search engine technology is always improving and the Sage brand pages have high authority (used to promote search results) so this might get sorted rather quickly.
So … putting aside those concerns, here are the positive take-aways from the re-branding:
- Sage efforts to promote the Sage brand are already working. I’ve had several different sources – prospects, referral partners, clients – mention that they heard the ads and they have had a very positive result. The marketing groups are really producing some high-quality, effective messages. This will ultimately make it easier for partners and Sage to introduce other products in the Sage family – CRM, HRMS, Payment Solutions, etc.
- Sage internally is beginning to focus on the Sage brand. Traditionally, as Sage has acquired companies and product lines, each group has had their own mandates, their own missions, their own messaging. I already see a shift in this – in large part because of the new unified brand message. This will make it easier for prospects, customers and partners to work with Sage in the long haul.
- Sage is going to be forced to deliver on the brand promises. “Forced” may be a strong word but it works. By putting themselves out there and committing to a brand and trying to drive meaning to that brand, Sage efforts will need to support that meaning or risk losing a lot. My thought is this requirement impacts every last initiative at Sage including a renewed focus on R&D to meet the brand promise. R&D has always been a soft spot in the Sage strategy and, like the other areas I’ve mentioned above, I see evidence that R&D is already turning around.
So, yes, there are still several unknowns coming with the Sage re-branding and I’m guessing that people will still be talking about “Accpac”, “MAS”, “Peachtree”, etc. for the next ten+ years despite Sage efforts.
Overall though, I think it was a bold move and a smart move on the part of the Sage team.
Right now, the software world is going through a huge shift. We need to be bold to take advantage of this shift.