UK-based Sage is one of the largest providers of business management software.*
Those following the company know that the firm has been making marketing moves for the last few years focused on the naming and branding of its products. Approximately five years ago the company, which has a slew of products, assigned strategic products to one category (Sage Accpac for example), products that would go into maintenance to a ‘Value’ line (Sage Pro for example), divided everything into Small and Mid-Market and finally decided to push the name ‘Sage’ more and more over its better-known sub brands, which had mostly come under the Sage umbrella following acquisitions.
In North America more people were familiar with Accpac or MAS, ACT or Simply Accounting than they were with ‘Sage.’ Consequent to the decision to rebrand to the mothership the firm began giving more prominence to the word ‘Sage’ on its packaging and on its websites and also pushed the name ‘Sage’ more in its advertising and radio spots. A new logo and simplified design was also introduced.
Of course, some would argue the best rebranding is making one’s products better and better, but to be realistic marketing does move things.
Part of the problem is that now Sage has more than one Sage 50 or 100 across the globe. These products would have the same name, but are not the same products. Additionally, 50 is not upgradeable to 300 is not upgradeable to 500. That seems confusing and a recipe for many customer questions to come. To make things even more confusing several Sage products are not being transitioned to the new naming convention. Sages SalesLogix will remain… Sage Saleslogix. Sage’s bright hope for the future X3 (formerly Adonix) is remaining X3.
The Sage move has been controversial. Sage employees, partners and customers have questioned the move and raised several flags. Sage’s relatively new North American CEO, Pascal Houillon, has been insistent. He used to manage part of the European business in France and is bringing North America in line with the European nomenclature. Last year he had to move to address Sage ecosystem concerns and seems to have somewhat allayed fears about the change.
It is a brave change. Products that have sold millions of licenses are being called something else going forward. Is it worth it? Is it a case of short-term pain for long-term gain? In that case, it is a risk and a brave change. Did I already say that?
The cynic might say that a new CEO would want to have his stamp all over his new job. Another point-of-view is that an ‘outsider’ can look at things more critically and more objectively. The new CEO has less allegiance and nostalgia towards a set of products.
The ‘Connected Services’ mantra, which describes Sage’s partial and largely incomplete attempt to sell its plethora of products (say Fixed Assets and CRM) horizontally is now also part of the same marketing effort.
*I used to work for Sage.