Businesses, at their most basic, fall into two categories - either providing a product or a service. The two are often interchanged, and arguably a service is a product, but not the other way around. FedEx's "product," for example, is the shipping service they provide, not the packaging the customers use.
When starting a business, whether a one man shop, or growing into a small business, this distinction is something to keep in mind, specifically when it comes to your brand. Unfortunately, I did not realize the importance of this until several years after Big Bang released the Universal Imaging Utility (UIU), and it has likely cost us.
The advantage a FedEx, or any other "service" oriented business, is that their name is synonymous with the service they provide. If truly successful, it even becomes a verb. It's not unusual to hear someone will FedEx a package. It's what they do and who they are.
On the other hand, consider Research In Motion, or RIM if you prefer. Now most technically savvy readers will know who RIM is and what they do. The rest of the known world knows them as BlackBerry. Their product branding is so strong, that most users of BlackBerry devices likely don't know that Research In Motion is the company behind the product.
Let me explain how the branding has worked for Big Bang and how it has affected us. When Big Bang first released the UIU, we distributed it through Binary Research International, the original creators of the Symantec Ghost product. It was a natural choice. We worked with them providing Symantec Ghost training services, they were still involved with Symantec and selling Ghost world wide, and they had a huge database of existing Ghost customers. Our experience was in supporting the software. Their experience was in selling software. Perfect!
Because distribution and sales was not our expertise, we relied very heavily on Binary to market the UIU, and they did that very well. However, we did not insist they market Big Bang, and to an extent, that was a mistake. Their job, as a company that specialized in bringing products to market, was to promote the product to increase sales... and to promote themselves in order to obtain more products. This caused us two issues.
First, our customers, the end users implementing our Universal Imaging Utility software, did not know who Big Bang was. We did not do nearly a strong enough job of getting our name out there. Rather, the UIU was the focus. So, like RIM and BlackBerry, we have created a situation where there is a disconnect between our product and the company. While the business was first taking off, no one thought anything of it. However, as we grow and look to release new products, we don't have the name recognition we would like as a company. Our UIU "Power Button" logo is far more recognized than the Big Bang logo, which has caused our marketing team no end of problems. How do we want our customers to identify us, by product or by brand name?
The other issue that arose with our distribution and marketing model, is that customers associated the UIU with Binary Research, not Big Bang. I can't begin to tell you how many times we have contacted a customer only to be told, "We only deal with the manufacturer." We are the manufacturer! But as I said before, Binary's job was to sell themselves as well as our software. To this day, despite the hassles, I do not begrudge them this. That's how their business as designed, and in order to grow and thrive, they wanted more products to bring to market. It makes perfect sense - for them. We didn't realize early on though what a problem it would cause for us down the road. We have spent the last year trying to educate our customers about who Big Bang is. In some cases, these customers have been using our UIU software and support for years! It has been a hard lesson to learn.
Consequently, my lack of foresight regarding "product" branding versus "company" branding has cost Big Bang a considerable amount of marketing equity. It's something to consider during all the excitement of bringing your first product to market - hopefully there will be a second product! I can only apologize to my sales and marketing staff, and hope they will forgive me.