What the Sage Rebranding Strategy REALLY Means

There’s been plenty of buzz in the channel following a few announcements that Sage Execs made at Sage Summit earlier this month.  In particular, the announced rebranding effort aimed at creating better recognition of the “Sage” corporate brand at the expense of some very popular and long-standing individual product names (MAS 90, Timberline, Peachtree) has ruffled some feathers.

What the Rebranding REALLY Means

There are plenty of articles that have been published on the subject of the Sage rebranding since the announcement at Summit.  Here are a few that we’ve seen:

Reading Between the Lines at Sage

Sage Re-Branding: A Risky Endeavor

Sage Undertaking Major Rebranding Effort

These articles do a good job of evaluating pros and cons and offering opinion about the announced reasons for the change so we won’t rehash here what’s already written elsewhere.

But here’s something to consider that we haven’t yet seen published … and maybe because it’s way off base … but here goes:

Homogenizing brand names and turning them into numbers makes it easier to trim the fat and kill off sunset certain products in the (bloated) portfolio

… particularly in the area of ERP where there’s plenty of bloat.

It’s Easier to Let Go

As a Sage partner or customer, letting go of your affinity for MAS 90 or BusinessWorks is a lot more difficult than saying bon voyage to “Sage Line 100” or “Line 50.”  There are plenty of folks that have a long-standing love affair with MAS 90, MIP, Abra and other well-established brand names.  But when those names become just a number (without all the history and fond memories), it’s easier to let them go.

I know, a little deep right?  Again, this theory may be way off base.

But to further the point, being forced to migrate from MAS 500 to X3 or MAS 90 to Accpac seems more complex than moving from Line 100 to Line 200.  In fact if you’re a customer, it sounds like an upgrade.

Which Sage Products Survive?

So which Sage products make the cut and which don’t?  Well, there are plenty of rumors … I guess we’ll have to just wait and see as things play out over the next 12 to 18 months.

But one thing is certain … the cheese is moving.

The question is, are you ready?  What are you doing to prepare yourself and your business for the Sage rebranding?

Comments

  1. says

    Some very interesting points being made here. Thanks all for your comments. The re-branding announcement seems to have struck a nerve!

    In fact, there’s a lively discussion going on in the ‘Sage Partners, Employees, and Alumni Networking’ group on LinkedIn.

    Ultimately, I think one thing is certain … it might be too early to speculate on the impact of the re-branding until Sage provides more detail about how it will be executed. Only time will tell whether is a success or disaster.

    Sage VARs can ask “why”, but the bottom line is that the re-branding is happening. So it’s best to think ahead and be prepared … one tremendous benefit of small business is the ability to stay nimble and adjust quickly as details of the plan are revealed.

  2. says

    As a 24-year MAS90 reseller, my first thought on all this was “Why?”. When Microsoft acquired several mid-market accounting systems, they rebranded them only to put them under the Dynamics brand umbrella – they still keep their identity (ie, Dynamics GP, Dynamics AX etc). This established continuity of brand recognition and helped retain customer loyalty. Renaming products with well-known brand names, especially replacing those names with numbers, will confuse and alienate both existing and potential customers. I have to agree with Mary. It is like naming your children with numbers. And the numbers Sage has used in the past are based on the appropriate employee count for the product, which is not even a good metric to begin with.

    So I’m still asking the same question – Why? It seems like a case of fixing something that isn’t broken.

  3. says

    We Vars have been complaining for years that Sage needs to help us distinguish their differnt products from each other. Now that Sage seems to be doing that, let’s wait and see what happens. Remember that old saying: “Be careful what you ask for!”

  4. says

    We Vars have been complaining for years that Sage needs to help us distinguish their differnt products from each other. Now that Sage seems to be doing that, let’s wait and see what happens. Remember that old saying: “Be careful what you ask for!”

  5. says

    We Vars have been complaining for years that Sage needs to help us distinguish their differnt products from each other. Now that Sage seems to be doing that, let’s wait and see what happens. Remember that old saying: “Be careful what you ask for!”

  6. says

    We Vars have been complaining for years that Sage needs to help us distinguish their differnt products from each other. Now that Sage seems to be doing that, let’s wait and see what happens. Remember that old saying: “Be careful what you ask for!”

  7. says

    Mark, Sage has not done anything smoothly since they took over State of the Art. I have been with MAS 90 since the early 90’s, MAS 200 since the beginning as MAS 90 Client Server and BusinessWorks from the DOS days. There is not one person in Irvine or Sacrament that was there when I attended my last conference in 2005. There is little continuity in personnel, marketing and channel management. If you are not a large reseller margins don’t exist. And now with the down economy, they are trying to tap into our consulting income by changing who get charged for telephone cases. Customers hate the maintenance fees because they see no value in once a year updates that change or break existing functionality and leave the extended solution users to figure out who is going to help them with update functions they rely on. I do like the most recent release of MAS 90, which includes a lot of extended solutions for all users. The orphans are going to be a problem for me. So, rebranding is just a smoke screen to cover the real problems with the channel and the end user discontent.

  8. says

    Mary – You make some great points. Smooth execution of the re-branding is going to be a challenge for sure. I guess we’ll all find out over the next couple of years which brands retain their “recognition equity” and which don’t. My GUESS is that not EVERY Sage product will become a number.

  9. Mary Euler says

    Hope they consider the customer base they want to retain and new customers they want to acquire, especially in the Peachtree area. The name “Peachtree” has a name recognition that is instant in the small business market, the educational system etc. It will take incredible legnth of time to make a “number” with Sage’s name have that same recognition which may give their competitors a huge increase in the market share while they are doing brand recognition education of the customer and prospect base. Quickbooks one of the main competitors still has name recognition problems if you say Intuit to someone in thot market today. The name “Intuit” does not immediately bring the product recognition that the product name “Quickbooks” does. It’s sort of renaming your children Son #1, Son #2 etc. or like a car amnufacturer changing all their model names to Ford 25, Ford 50, Ford 75. If you just want to sell a Ford then that is what will be accomplished but then again if they are not concerned about retaining that part of the software market then I guess it’s not a problem.

  10. says

    Bryce – fantastic comments. Particularly as it relates to the SEO challenge which (as a marketing guy) I’ve done some thinking about. I agree that realistically there’s going to be some “hangover” as potential customers/prospects continue to search for the old brand names well after the official switch is flipped by Sage (and partners are forced to adopt new branding guidelines).

    And yes, there are plenty of questions unanswered currently – probably in part because Sage isn’t ready yet to reveal the whole picture … and partly because they’re still figuring it all out! They know where they’re going (stronger Sage corporate brand), but getting there may be a bumpy ride. As I read in a recent blog post, “short term pain, long term gain.” I agree.

  11. says

    I’m really interested to see what Sage’s rebranding scheme is going to do for SEO. In all reality, we know that these brand names aren’t just going to disappear with the flick of a switch. This further begs the question: how do we optimize for both while maintaining some sort of differentiation between the two? Or maybe, and on the exact opposite hand, a clear-cut differentiation isn’t what’s needed, but a sort of phrasing that emphasizes the relationship between pre- and post- branded product? If the latter is indeed the case, how does Sage expect consumers to know the difference between MAS 200 and, say, Sage 200 while also understanding that they’re totally the same?

    All-in-all, I think it’s exciting news, but I have a lot of questions that Sage just hasn’t answered yet.

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