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Microsoft Gold Certified Logo Abusers: Watch Out for the Brand Police

Partners using unrenewed Microsoft Gold Certified Partner logos had better watch their backs. Microsoft channel executives are making noises about policing the brand more aggressively.

During a Q&A with partners last week, Microsoft global channel chief Jon Roskill said, "One of the things that we've heard is that [partners] feel that people are out there using a gold brand from several years ago, and they aren't current. That is something that we're looking at -- how we can police that."

Microsoft already does some enforcement of the brand, explained Karl Noakes, general manager of Microsoft Partner Strategy and Programs. "We do some mystery shoppers where we do check, and we do contact partners that are misusing the brand," Noakes said.

Microsoft partners are getting more sensitive about the subject, though. With the new Microsoft Partner Network taking effect, the old Microsoft Gold Certified brand is being phased out this year in favor of the labels gold competent and silver competent, both of which are supposed to be harder to obtain than the old Gold Certified logo.

Some partners who are achieving the new silver competency are worried that until the Gold Certified Partner branding is grandfathered out of the channel, they will be at a marketing disadvantage against less-qualified partners. While Roskill said there is little that Microsoft can do about the necessary grandfathering period, Microsoft can be more aggressive against partners who are abusing outdated Gold Certified brand materials.

(Ed's Note: For more news from the Microsoft Partner Network Interactive Leadership Forum, click here.)

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 16, 2011