What’s in a name? – Response to Ed Brill’s post: “Whatever we call it”

Open response to Ed Brill’s blog post: “Whatever we call it”

I step away for a weekend and look what happens!  I think it’s time to figure out how to get those RSS feeds into my Outlook client.  😦

Ed, I hope you are more efficient at writing your blog entries than I am.  Such a carefully worded article for me would have taken me forever to write.

To nit-pick: IBM is the “3rd most valuable brand”, not 2nd.  Though I’m still not sure what that means.  If you look at the list (Apple, Google, IBM, MacDonald’s, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Marlboro, China Mobile, GE – See the source: Brandz article on Most Valuable Brands ) All but one of these brands brings to mind a specific product:  IBM.  What good is a brand if it’s product(s) are unknown?

At this point I think IBM has, through its own neglect, done enough damage to the Lotus brand name that I think you are making the right decision to sell it as IBM rather than Lotus. (as if you needed my approval, right?)  But certainly I can provide a unique perspective to this from my vantage point.  I know this region of the world has many IBM customers and they would not be shy to buy IBM solutions, even  here in Microsoft land, where they would be a hard sell on Lotus branded products.  Of course this assumes someone follows through and actually markets and sells those products. (ahem. nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

I completely agree with you that “product management does not drive branding.”  It shouldn’t.  Product management should be focused on what it knows best: software engineering, not marketing.  Though by default, Ed, you are the mouth and face of the Lotus brand since all of this marketing news is coming from you, not from Sandy Carter, the VP of marketing.  I admit that I am more guilty than most of targeting you with points on marketing awareness when I really should be directing that energy toward Sandy.  But hey, you’re a more visible and accessible person and we all appreciate that.

I can think of no other company that has such a transparent  approach to their product development and direction as IBM has with its Lotus brand.  Even other IBM product communities don’t have such transparency or stir such passion.  But honestly, we don’t so much care about the transparency as we do about results.  It’s much like the way a boss or parent will micro-manage when they aren’t getting the results they expect and will be more hands-off when they do.  Right now the Lotus community is trying to micro-manage IBM because it doesn’t have confidence in your current strategy.  This community wouldn’t be so involved or vocal if their careers weren’t so closely tied to IBM’s success.  It’s no fun to be a stakeholder yet have little voice in the process beyond commenting on your blog or writing on our own blogs.  I believe the American Revolution started for the same reason exactly 235 years ago.  That is the independence theme in “screw IBM, let’s buy the product back from them” .  I didn’t see the post, but I’ll bet the author was an American.

At PACLUG I had a chance to talk with several people who seem to think “Hey, IBM has adapted to survive for the last 100 years, that is longer than anyone else in this business.  We know what we’re doing and we will continue to succeed.”  I say to that, if IBM has a 64 year jump on Microsoft, 65 years on Apple, 85 years on Google, and an incredible 93 year jump on Facebook, then why isn’t IBM way ahead of all of them?  As the stock purchasing disclaimer goes “past success does not indicate future performance.”  Or as the customer’s mantra goes “It’s not ‘what have you done for me?’  It is ‘what have you done for me *lately*?'”

Ed, in all of my studies and research on marketing, there are 3 books that I have found that stand out to address this issue best.  You already know the first one: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”.  The second is “Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain” by Renvoise and Morin (terrible title, great content).  Don’t read it unless you’re interested in expanding your knowledge on selling, but do at least share it with Sandy.

I’m just glad I branded myself as “The Notes Guy in Seattle” instead of “The Lotus Guy in Seattle”.

The nice thing about being on the dark side is “When it’s dark enough you can see the stars.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Posted on July 5, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. And the third book is…?

  2. The third book is “Your Marketing Sucks” by Mark Stevens. Before you jump to conclusions on its content, he actually makes numerous references to IBM’s marketing in positive regard and does not get into Lotus at all.

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