Landor aids Brocade rebranding 

San Francisco branding firm Landor Associates saw a high-profile project take off as client Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (BRCD) rang the bell onthe Nasdaq trading floor, unveiled its new look and announced the purchase of a major competitor, all on the same day.

The firm had a good 2006, showing what analysts described as strong business growth despite an increasingly dark series of headlines about the backdating stock-options practices of previous management, which led to investigations by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice and a late-2005 shareholder lawsuit. None of those things influenced the decision to rebrand, Brocade VP Tom Buiocchi said.

"The momentum was growing upward here," he said.

Landor’s work for Brocade began in early 2006 and was spurred more by its existing and planned acquisitions of Therion, Nuview, Silverback Networks and McData, and the subsequent diversifying of its products, Buiocchi said. The firm and its competitor, Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) of San Jose, dominate the storage-area networks market, Brocade’s original product.

"Certainly, when we started with them, they had aspirations greater than where they are currently," Landor client director Terresa Christenson said. "They really wanted to look at their brand positioning and brand strategy."

Landor made Brocade executives and staff members think about their firm and its goals, Buiocchi said. Landor designed the firm a new logo, a "B," which roughly resembles angel wings lying down, heading from left to right. The active-looking nature of the logo was deliberate, Christenson said. A new slogan came with the logo: "Challenge with intent."

"This was an identity that didn’t look over its shoulders," Christenson said.

The roll-out on Jan. 29 was accompanied by an announcement of the acquisition of McData, a competitor, and billboards on the Nasdaq floor, on U.S. Highway 101 and in Times Square. Brocade also bought advertisements in The Wall Street Journal, redid its Web site and had a "bagels and badges" party for both old and acquired employees so they could change their company IDs to re-branded ones.

It’s a fairly good time for a brand change, according to senior analyst Brent Bracelin of Pacific Crest Securities. Brocade was coming out of five years of "brutal competition," but now it and Cisco lock up 95 percent of the total storage-switching market, he said.

"It’s a near duopoly. We would expect their pricing to improve," he said.

Senior analyst Samuel Wilson of JMP Securities said Brocade has had a "phenomenally good" year, but that future success will depend more on integrating McData than on any branding effort.

"They’ve got a new logo and they’ve got a new schtick, but in the end it’s marketing dollars," he said.

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