Jason Dea's Pages

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I watch NASCAR for the crashes... revisited

The following is my most read blog post.  This was written 2 years ago - almost to the day - and to date has had over 2500 views.  A lot had happened since then.  Novell was acquired by Attachmate and I've since moved on to a new opportunity at Empathica.

As I read it I reflect back on how daunting a task something that sounds as simple as re-branding is.  I recently saw an article about HP having had an opportunity to update their logo for which they passed on. This sparked much uproar online about the opportunity they missed.  Well, if my experience tells me anything it's that re-branding and changing the world's perception about you takes much more than a new logo.  Or even a new vision statement as with what Novell tried to do.  It takes a full company effort, and the new brand you want to create needs to be compelling enough to have widespread adoption in the market at large.   Very few companies have been able to do this successfully, particularly large ones.

In fact in 2012 we can all watch in real time how this same exercise will unfold at RIM.  Once having defined the smartphone, they now struggle to change the world's perception of what they do and why they do it.  I'm sure some will suggest a logo change, or a new vision or mission statement, but the reality is it will take much more.

Maybe they can even pick up a lesson or two from NASCAR...


I watch NASCAR for the crashes...
I have been reflecting on Intelligent Workload Management and Novell these past few weeks. I won’t go in to details on the strategy, as there is plenty of material on that from much better sources than myself.
My brain instead tends to work in tangents. Intelligent Workload Management has gotten me thinking about NASCAR. Yes, stock car racing. Not long ago, NASCAR was a niche sport, relegated to popularity in the south, and frankly having very negative stereotypes associated with it everywhere else.
Then a guy by the name of Brett Yormark came along to run NASCAR sales and marketing. Yormark had a sole focus: to change the most important thing he saw about NASCAR… PERCEPTION. By bringing in a major sponsor Nextel, to replace RJ Reynolds, along with other changes to the brand. Yormark took NASCAR to a new audience, up market, with a new public perception.
NASCAR has now become the second most profitable professional sport in North America just short of the NFL. Not bad for a bunch of guys crashing in to each other.
Here at Novell, we are in the process of a similar evolution. Our products have always been loved by our customers and our engineers have consistently delivered market leading technology. Our biggest challenge is perception. Intelligent Workload Management is a fresh way of looking at how our products and solutions fit together for a powerful vision. Both the engineer and salesperson in me are extremely excited by the possibilities this market holds, and the ways that IWM can change the role of IT in helping business run.
We have the products, and more importantly the people here to deliver on this vision. Intelligent Workload Management can do for Novell what Brett Yormark did for NASCAR.
Lucky for us, we can do it, without all the car crashes…