I've recently completed something that has been a long-held professional dream for me: leading Progress through an exercise to re-communicate its brand.
You may have picked up on a few hints that something like this was about to happen from my previous blog posts on creating emotional connections between our businesses, the power of a great story and how the best brand assessment comes from within, it was my way to relieve a little pressure on keeping such a big secret!
Some people would describe this process as a 're-brand' but I don't think that does it justice - the word 'brand' is often misused and misunderstood. Branding is more than a color palette, and whilst one part of the project involved re-designing our logo and making our creative identity more bold, the most important thing was capturing and expressing the values we have as a business because these are what people relate to.
An image on its own is just an image; the things that we do and the way in which we do them is where the value lies. Whether it's delivering technical, functional or operational expertise to our customer and partner communities, or the way we greet our colleagues in the morning, every interaction and the way in which it's carried out builds our brand equity.
I knew that we had a tremendously loyal and talented community of partners and developers, and millions of end users relying on our technology every day. For over thirty years people had been quietly using the power of Progress to create transformational business solutions, selecting us over more well-known software providers. We had partner and customer loyalty, great technology and a team to be proud of so why weren't we telling the world about it? As more than one partner put it: "Progress is the best software company you've never heard of". I liked the first part of that sentence, the second part kicked me and my team into action. I made it my priority to combine the power of the attributes that our customers and partners value so highly, our pride in our people, and the way that we visually express this, to provide a strong, consistent, emotive reaction.
In discussing this with our CEO we agreed that in terms of budget, it was going to be strictly 'business as usual' - there was to be no multi-million dollar big-agency contract. We didn't need someone to tell us what Progress stood for but what we did want was some external creative input to fuel our ideas. With that in mind we worked with boutique agency New Kind to help us finesse the process and provide some fresh thinking on what became our 'Spark'. We shook off the blues of the past and used our Progress Exchange 2013 conference to burst our new brand identity into life. It's safe to say our Dutch teams were very pleased with the orange!
The delight of the Dutch aside, the response it prompted from across all of the communities that we serve was incredible. From the customers who have Progress at the heart of their business solution, to the partners who have bet their businesses on our platform; and from our operations teams to our sales force across the globe, it was a resounding 'yes!'. They are glad to see Progress confidently expressing what makes us, and our technology great. They want us to shout about what can be achieved on our platform and how incredible our partners and customers are. They knew it was the right thing to do because by creating a tangible expression of the trust, confidence, positivity, capability and expertise that comes from working with, and for, Progress everyone does better business. Because when it comes to the purpose of branding, that's the bottom line.
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