If theres one thing the business world should have learned from the dot-com debacle, its that brand equity goes at least as far, if not further, than a good business concept. But not everyone seems to have learned that lesson.
Novell recently joined forces with Accenture and Nortel Networks to create a new company called Volera. While the concept of selling intelligent caching solutions is a sound one, Volera isnt necessarily the vendor that jumps to mind in this space. Like the dot-coms that came and went before it, Volera faces an uphill battle—and that trek looks more like technical climbing on a sheer cliff than a strenuous day-hike—in making its name a staple in corporate America.
This is a far different task than what established companies face when they change their names. Accenture doesnt exactly roll off the tongue like Andersen Consulting, but at least it has a long list of customers it can tell. Thats much the same exercise that integrator Solutech just went through when it changed its name to Quilogy, following a dispute over the Solutech URL. Even 3Com, which has lived through several reinventions of itself, has opted for repositioning everything but the Palm rather than spinning out new companies.
Establishing a new company, no matter how big the backers, is tough. It requires building customer and partner loyalty and a major branding/demand-generation campaign. Of the three, its the branding/demand-generation piece thats the toughest. If you have an established brand and can present a solid value statement for customers and partners, chances are good your company will make it. But building that brand requires more than just big names. It requires a mix of the right market conditions, lots of cash, and marketing know-how that seems all too rare these days.
When Intel jumped into the venture capital business several years ago, startups dropped the Intel name all over the Web. This new "Intel Inside" campaign was based on dollars rather than silicon, but it didnt do a whole heck of a lot to salvage these startups. Neither did the combination of Intel and SAP in Pandesic, which attracted media attention at its launch and was never heard from again until it closed up shop.
Launching new companies is always risky, and its particularly risky when the economy is unstable and corporate buyers are questioning whether their vendors and suppliers will be around for the long haul. Volera is well-financed and there is a need for intelligent caching. Nevertheless, its one thing to stake a claim in the business world. Its quite another to create a name that will last.