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Microsoft Partner Evolves Brand To Compete in Enterprise Space

First impressions are important. The Internet levels the playing field in terms of your ability to reach new markets, but if your Web site doesn't meet the expectations of your visitors, they won't stay long. If you want to compete with bigger players, you better look the part.

Evolution of a Company and Brand
Like many partners, Orckestra, an e-commerce and collaboration services company, has evolved its business model to meet changing market forces. The multi-gold and silver competency Microsoft partner recently launched the e-commerce platform Overture, transitioning from a pure services provider to a product and services company. Since the target market for Overture includes enterprise firms, competitors will include global companies with established brand presence.

As the company worked toward the business model change, it also made the investment in a brand makeover.

"We didn't want to radically change the look and feel of the brand -- we wanted it to evolve," said Damon Sloane, Orckestra's director of product marketing. "While there is a separate brand for the product, it builds on the heritage of the corporate brand."

Sloane's rebranding efforts began with research, looking at enterprise software competitors, as well as consumer-facing businesses, to gauge current trends.

"The goal is to give us more credibility to compete with companies that already have brand recognition in the enterprise space. We've put a lot of effort into color choices and visual cues to convey information quickly," he said.

Launching the Brand
Orckestra's corporate Web site was updated last November, and the Overture product was introduced at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July. Collateral was created to showcase the new brands and a media plan, including search and social marketing tactics, is rolling out. Approaching the branding and subsequent marketing as a process, not an event, Sloane will expand his tactics in response to results.

The challenge for any company with an evolving business model -- in Orckestra's case, launching a product -- is to not confuse current or prospective customers. Maintaining the identity of the current business and building a new image is a balancing act.

"We have decided to concentrate on the Orckestra domain," Sloane noted. "In time and with success, we will move to a dedicated site."

Targeting the Audience
An additional challenge for evolving businesses is defining the target audience so that you can fine-tune messaging. No amount of research can really predict which industries your early adopters and champions will come from. Like most partners, Orckestra's service business clients came from every industry.  

While Sloane defined target personas to build appropriate messaging for the new brand, it remains a work in progress.

"Our current client base is quite varied. There is no common theme of industry or company size," he said. "It would be easier if we knew there was a vertical or company size that will be our sweet spot."  

Sloane's long-term goal is to develop targeted messaging and content for vertical industries. "While we have defined the audience, it's not set in stone and we will be updating," Sloan continued. "For now, we are taking a broader approach, targeting enterprise-level organizations that have an affinity for the Microsoft ecosystem."

Lessons Learned
After working through the rebranding process at both the corporate and product level, Sloane offers some advice to other partners: "Don't try to bite off too much at one time. You don't have to change every element, like Web site and collateral, at once. Think of a rebranding as an evolution."

For partners making changes to business models, rebranding should be a key component in the transition. When your prospects visit your Web site or stop by your trade show booth, they expect to see a level of professionalism equal to your competitors. Put a plan in place to continuously improve your Web and marketing presence to ensure that you keep pace.

How are you rebranding your business? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share the knowledge.   

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 25, 2013