As a part of their rebranding strategy, Sage announced in October 2011 that their MAS 90, MAS 200 and MAS 200 SQL product lines will now be called Sage 100. This is a new branding strategy by the company in an effort to align their product branding in North America with their European division which is based in United Kingdom. Having a wide range of product lines, the business software giant wants to streamline all their software solutions with their company name which is Sage. For the company, this is an excellent strategy but does it really create a positive impact to its partners and end-users?
Analyzing the Rebranding Strategy from a Marketing Standpoint
Branding is one of the most crucial factors in identifying a product. It takes a lot of effort to establish a brand. This includes the building of a positive reputation for a brand name which creates identity to a certain product and separates it from its competitors. Experts believe that a well-established brand must not be change easily as it can create a huge impact in the market. In the case of Sage’s top ERP solutions namely MAS 90, MAS 200 and MAS 200 SQL, changing their names to one product suite known as Sage 100 as many partners expressed it, is not a wise one.
The term MAS means Master Accounting Series. This is the top of the line accounting software since the early 1990’s which captured a large market share both in Europe and America. Throughout the years it went beyond its accounting functionality and evolved into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Having this said, the MAS product lines are not only established as a brand for more than 20 years but also captured a significant share in the ERP market. The brand name has already been patronized and endorsed by Certified Public Accountants, Bookkeepers, IT and business professionals in many countries. It has also laid a solid foundation in the industry and changing the name might possibility create a little confusion. MAS customers will still be looking for and use the term MAS instead of Sage 100 whenever they talk about the product.
Rebranding Affects the Search Engine Marketing of Partners
Because ERP software is a very expensive product, software resellers (partners) choose business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy to distribute the software to customers which are mostly small to medium size companies. The sales cycle may sometimes take a few months to over a year to close. Because of this, most MAS resellers take advantage of SEO to market the product over the internet. The brands MAS 90 and MAS 200 are already optimized as keywords in many websites and changing it to Sage 100 can hurt their SEO efforts and market visibility over the internet.
Any SEO professional knows that optimizing keywords to rank top on search engine searches takes a lot of effort. Changing the name to Sage 100 means that these software resellers need to start from scratch and optimize for a new keyword. Selling the software online through SEO is one of the main strategies of many big resellers and this rebranding strategy can cause a huge impact.
The New Rebranding Strategy
Sage 100 Standard will now be the new name for MAS 90, Sage 100 Advance will now be the new name for MAS 200, which is a client-server version of MAS90 and Sage 100 Premium will be the new name for MAS 200 SQL. However, the functionalities and features of these solutions will not be changed except as normal with updates and upgrades.
It would be like General Motors saying we no longer want to call it a Corvette but the new name will be the C-100. Sorry but people are still going to search for a Corvette, not a C-100, no matter how much you want them to. Even when Microsoft acquired Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta, they did some Microsoft rebranding per se, but they still kept the name somewhat in tact because the general public already knew the names. (i.e. Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains or Dynamics GP for short).
Is this rebranding a really good strategy for an established brand? Only Sage Software and the resellers can tell. If the company will lose market share and the resellers will decrease in revenue then it goes to show this is a bad move. The new Sage 100 product lines will be distributed starting October 2012 and only after then can answers be found.