Sage re-branding: a risky endeavor

Sage re-branding: a risky endeavor

Summary: Yesterday at Sage Summit, Sage North America announced a major rebranding exercise. Product names will be dropped in favor of Sage and then a number.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Yesterday at Sage Summit, Sage North America announced a major rebranding exercise. Product names will be dropped in favor of Sage and then a number. The rationale is that the Sage brand is more recognizable in the market than the individual product names. We've seen this kind of thing before in Europe. At the time I didn't get it and still don't get it. I have fond memories of products like Sage Sovereign (now Sage 100 I think) and Financial Controller (now Sage 50) and those brands go back 20 years.

Trying to re-educate people who know Peachtree, Timberline, SalesLogix and ACT! that these are now something else is going to be one heck of an exercise. Even so, some seem to think it's a great idea. Peter Wolf for example says:

In fact, in many ways, shifting the focus to the Sage brand instead of individual products allows the customers, the channel and Sage to develop a clean, consistent image of the brand that allow more of a family feeling to spread for the suite of products – as opposed to loyalty to any specific products. This is a huge advantage for all involved.

Think about Apple for a moment. Apple puts out an iPad and you expect a certain amount of quality and pizzazz from the product before you even speak to a sales person or read a brochure or pick up the device. It helps me as a customer identify what  I should expect and it helps Apple engineers understand that same message.

I get that but for three problems:

1. As Paul Greenberg Tweeted:

#sagesummit @DenisPombriant agree u have relatively weak corp. brand - not sure tho, that if u deemphasize old brand, get new strong brand

2. Rebranding is fine but it doesn't make up for the fact many of the solutions Sage is talking about are old and I mean REALLY old. If the company devoted the same amount of effort (time and money) into developing new, competitive solutions, then I'm betting brand issues would fall away. But that's not the Sage way. It's trying to brand market its way to growth. In an age of improved access to information, I'm not convinced that's going to work.

3. Channel partners will likely bear the brunt of the branding change. They're already under pressure from newer vendors coming onto the scene. Despite Peter Wolf's positive view, they are not going to be happy about taking on fresh costs. According to the VAR Guy:

The most powerful one [question], which received a round of applause, was from a partner who complained that changing the brand in the past had caused a lot of problems for resellers.

Whether rebranding will work for the company remains to be seen. In the meantime, Sage is taking a huge risk at the same time it is under pressure. It opens the door for competitors to come in and offer alternatives, pointing out Sage's weaknesses and making the most of what some might regard as a cynical exercise designed to shore up the foundations of the past rather than looking to the future.

Topic: Apple

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • Live from Sage Summit

    I was in the briefing this morning with Pascal Houillon and in general his answers were pretty close to what Peter summarized.

    When asked about the branding changes Pascal said that it's largely a matter of being able to upsell customers. Moving a customer from a Peachtree system to a MAS90 package (a larger system) is tougher because customers know and like Peachtree and think of themselves as a Peachtree user and not a MAS90 user.

    Theoretically removing the current product names makes that upsell easier.

    Also the question of who bears the brunt of partner re-branding costs was brought up by an analyst. The reply by Pascal was basically that of course if a partner could come to Sage with some cost info that they would discuss what should (if anything) be done regarding reimbursement.

    However the overall sense I got from the response to the question was that Sage believes rebranding costs to partners should be minimal.

    The point was made that it doesn't take that long to modify a web site and that we're no longer in the era where partners have lots and lots of paper based promotional materials.

    Other notes:

    Pascal's Priorities:

    Growth
    Brand
    Connect to Web
    Improve the business model

    When asked what worked well in Europe that Pascal would like to replicate in NA:

    Sage Brand
    Roles in the market
    Value proposition for the customer

    Question to Himanshu Palsule, EVP Strategy , Sage NA:

    Back to the 15-20 year iconic brand
    Puzzled about what customers are thinking
    He thinks "trusted , stable"
    What does Pascal think customers are thinking about the brands now (that's so bad)


    Himanshu:

    The effect on existing customers is not big
    The goal is as Sage prospects it impacts new customer adds, recognitions
    anerpvar
  • RE: Sage re-branding: a risky endeavor

    Sage Sovereign (Line 100) is no more... Replaced by the brand new Sage 200 ERP suite

    Line 50 (DOS) used to be Sterling... Replace by the Sage 50 new windows codebase... Financial controller is the top of the range variant of Sage 50 still available today.
    Stuartlynn
  • RE: Sage re-branding: a risky endeavor

    Dennis - Thanks for the reference to my article on www.summitdiary.com. To address your point #2, I think by consolidating branding efforts in the Sage brand vs the 42 (?!) different products, my hope is that Sage will be able to take those funds to:

    a) Make a serious push to build the Sage brand

    and / or

    b) Save some money with the focused company branding (vs individual product branding) and re-invest in R&D to improve the products.

    That's my hope.
    pwolf@...
  • RE: Sage re-branding: a risky endeavor

    Those of us in the MS world went throuh this with the whole Dynamics rebranding. Great Plains became Dynamics GP, etc. We still can't get customers to stop saying the old names 10 years later and in general, MS has a more recognized brand name than Sage and it still confuses people.

    Mark
    mpolino
  • RE: Sage re-branding: a risky endeavor

    As a Sage "partner", we were informed one week before Summit about a significant increase of our cost to continue supporting a large number of the Sage North American products. It's commical to consider that the costs of rebranding won't be paid by the partners. Who do they think will be doing the upselling from MAS 50 to MAS >50?
    MzLoWalker
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