Names such as Accpac, MAS, Timberline, and even Peachtree will soon become a memory as Sage North America chief executive Pascal Houillon announced major rebranding efforts that will result in all of the company’s software becoming simply the company name and a number.
In 2012, Sage will begin marketing and rebranding initiatives to remove the old brand names—beginning with Peachtree likely becoming Sage 50 in the U.S. —in an effort to help increase Sage brand awareness, much the way it has across Europe, according to Houillon. This was the primary focus of the new CEO’s first keynote address as head of Sage North America, at the Sage Summit 2011 in Washington.
Houillon spoke to a room of thousands of Sage channel partners, noting that building a “strong brand” in North America will be a priority for him, Sage executives, and the channel.
“When I first arrived here from Paris I put my Sage credit card down and I expected them to say, ‘Wow, you work for Sage,’ but there was nothing,” said Houillon.. “When I went to a bank to open an account and told them I am the CEO for Sage North America, the banker asked me if I would be interested in one of their small business accounts. I was shocked. Making the brand strong will be difficult. Today I announce a significant step towards that. We will drop the use of our brand names such as Accpac, Peachtree, and MAS, and by 2013 you will see this start to happen.”
Houillon stressed that across Europe the Sage brand is widely known, and its products all have the Sage brand followed by a number. He said he is “confident” this is the best strategy for the company and the future of the brand in North America.
“I’ve been with Sage for the past 22 years and many of the things we are trying to do here I’ve already seen work in France, Germany, U.K. and other parts of Europe,” said Houillon. “If we and all the people in this room use our customers as our guides, we can only succeed.”
Some partners were informed of these changes prior to the keynote, and their reactions and questions were videotaped and aired during the address. One of the key concerns over the re-branding was the high costs partners have endured during Sage’s history of brand adjustments.
Dennis Frahmann, Sage’s executive vice president of marketing, addressed these concerns, stating many of the Sage North America brands were “weak.”
“It is a very emotional subject [changing the brand] and why we are doing this is to create a strong brand,” said Frahmann. “Ask yourself what are the costs we are experiencing as a weak brand. You are paying enormous costs with Sage being a weak brand in North America. You are selling who Sage is and then the product. There are enormous costs in marketing a weak brand.”