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Ovid (2709)

Ovid
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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Monday September 28, 2009
11:09 AM

Branding Perl

[ #39687 ]

Word association is an interesting game. Basically, I say a word and you the first thing which pops into your mind:

SQL
Database
PHP
Easy
Ruby
Rails
Perl
Rocks

Well, that's how you hope this might go. For many outside the Perl community, you might hear "dead" instead of "rocks". By allowing the blogosphere to define the Perl brand, we've put ourselves on the defensive, reacting to what others say rather than taking the brand management into our own hands. In short, "branding" Perl would be to identify a concept with Perl in the public's mind. I would like the average person to think "ubiquitous and cost-effective" when they think of Perl, but that might not be the right approach.

As part of our marketing efforts, one marketer pointed out that we're not just looking at marketing Perl or the community, we're trying to market a concept. Without a clear understanding of the brand[1] we're representing, marketing efforts can be unfocused. A particular individual who's asked not to be named did some research and came back with a branding proposal from a PR firm which specializes in creating a brand image. We pretty much shot down the proposal. Aside from spelling and grammatical errors (!), it spent a lot of time explaining how the branding would be defined in terms of how the Perl community thinks it should be defined.

I did not find a single item in the proposal which related to connecting the brand to what consumers want. If we rushed off to brand Perl as the "data munger's dream" but everyone wants "dependable and fast", we've pushed ourselves into a niche. What's worse, we might be perceived as useless for anything outside of our brand association.

In short, if you want to hire anyone to do branding, make sure they can connect what you can deliver with what people want.

Back to the drawing board for us.

1. It's worth noting that a brand doesn't pigeonhole you if done correctly. Many general purpose programming languages (Java, for example) have done a great job at branding without people thinking they're one-trick ponies.

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  • Sad to hear that the branding exercise turned out so poorly (though not entirely surprising). I suspect that any attempt to work with a marketing agency that is not focused on marketing technology is going to result in something similar.

    There's also lots to be said about the " pinko marketing [pbworks.com]" approach, for brands that have such a huge user community: i.e., marketing from the bottom-up vs. top-down.

    I jotted down some thinking on the "branding Perl" question in a recent blog post: "Getting to the root of P [newint.org]

    --
    Keeping technology simple since 2003
    • I really like the post you linked to and some of the responses. I can agree with the message. Back when I sold cars, I learned a couple of interesting things. First, selling Japanese cars was hard because I didn't give a damn about cars. Customers came in armed with invoice price lists, Consumer Reports, news articles, etc. They really were focused on value. When I switched to selling American cars, many people came in to "buy American" and while the cars were demonstrably a lesser value -- 3 versus 5

      • I must admit, I also like the "Creative power" messaging also. For me it's reminiscent of "Making Easy Things Easy and Hard Things Possible" -- which has always resonated for me when thinking about Perl's strengths.

        But that "creative power" message is probably aimed squarely at developers, and not business executives. And that's where I was going in the post referenced above: There could be -- and probably should be -- different messaging to each potential audience. For developers, Perl is "creative power

        --
        Keeping technology simple since 2003