This has been a very strange week in many aspects. On the one hand there was this Lotus community call with the very provocative title “Is the Lotus Brand Going Away?” and on the other hand I had a very important personal engagement that absorbed about all of my spare time and therefore limiting my possibilities of following what was going on in the community.
Now I listened to the Community call as did about 200 others and more importantly I followed the chat because that was where the real discussion seemed to be going on. The reason for that was that with that title IBM stirred up a very fundamental topic about the future of Lotus as a brand that has been going on for a while in the community. But the presentation that was given didn’t even mention the word “Lotus”. This brought on a storm of comments in the chat followed by blog posts and twitter remarks all week long. The ‘yellow’ community seemed on fire and it wasn’t positive. Now I’ll admit, I was disappointed by this community call as well but still the negativity in some of the remarks really surprised me. Ed Brill’s explanatory blog yesterday hopefully calms things down a bit.
To be honest, I do not know what to make of it all. I mean IBM changing product and brand names isn’t a new thing. I can still remember one of the first meetings we had with the Domino Document Manager Redbook team in which we actually discussed which, of the many names the product had during its life cycle, we would use in the Redbook.
And let’s face it, the Lotus brand name is definitely loosing out with customers. After years of Lotus bashing by competitors and radio silence on the marketing side from IBM there’s just too much negative spin around it. Even if the products themselves are great. And that makes it an easy target. It’s becoming more and more about the name and less about the products. So maybe re-branding the Lotus products to benefit from the much stronger IBM brand is the best way to go.
Now of course there is the underlying question of what the future is of Notes and Domino. That’s actually where the real pain is in all this. The fact that the Lotus name is so deeply ingrained in these products and the fear that with loosing the brand we will also loose these products is what really caused this stir in the first place.
In his blog post Ed Brill took this question head on: “Some ask whether Notes/Domino have a place to fit in that story. The answer is yes“. I choose believe him. These are great products and even if they wouldn’t be under the Lotus brand name they definitely have a future. We just need to get out of the defensive position they’ve had in the last few years and concentrate on developing the radical and exciting new features that will take them into the next age. Re-branding them therefore could actually be a good thing, if done right.
Will that hurt? Definitely, especially within this lovely yellow community that has taken so much pride in promoting the Lotus brand for so long. And re-branding to Big Blue alone wouldn’t be enough so I’m curious to see what is going to happen.
Change is always scary and it isn’t always to the best but in this case I think it could the beginning of a new and exciting future and more importantly, I think it’s needed. So bring it on, I’m sure we can handle it..!