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What’s in a Brand? Defining a Company

In April 2018, I was in Hawaii on business when Joe Burton, my soon to be boss, gave me a call. He was then CEO of Plantronics, which had recently announced that it would be acquiring Polycom, where I was CMO. “I’m thinking about the name for our new combined company,” he said, “and I figured you’d probably want to be involved in that.”

Having the opportunity to take two companies with strong brands and origin stories and turn them into one new company -- you just don’t get that chance very often in a career. My answer was yes.

It’s hard to believe that was just under a year ago, and here we are today at Enterprise Connect, introducing Poly, our new brand -- a new company -- to the industry. While this show is always packed, it’s a time of reflection for those of us who have been envisioning this new company and brand. Here’s the path we explored and how we want you to think about us, as Poly.

1. Honor Legacy

We had two brands, each with its own storied history. The headset that transmitted the famous “One step . . .” of the first moon landing. The conference phone used by leaders of nations and captains of industry. Two companies focused on making connections with better audio, better video, better quality. In rebranding, we wanted to honor the brand equity, history, and positive associations we already had, while also working to plant a stake in a country that hadn’t yet been discovered.

2. Short Matters

Data shows that shorter names perform better in our digital world -- easier to say, spell, and type. For those of us in global business, that’s especially true so that a brand translates just as easily in Japan as Brazil.

3. Consider Fusion

We thought about some sort of fusion -- lots of brand literature suggests that this is a great way to nod to the past while still moving forward. In our case, “Polytronics” and “PlanCom” and “PolyPlan” and “PlanPoly” … didn’t work. But for the right brand, one of them might.

4. Get Emotional

The brand attributes that we saw all showed that while we scored well on quality and reliability overall, we didn’t have a whole lot of emotional connection in either brand. We thought hard about simply taking the name from one of the two companies.

5. Find Meaning

In Greek, “poly” means “many.” Four letters, two syllables. And what did our new company stand for, if not the many? The many employees who are coming together. The many modes of communications we enable. The many ecosystems we cross with our smart hardware and cloud connections. Once we found that meaning in the word for our company, we had a rallying point.

The name and the logo, of course, are just the start of our rebranding story. You can read more about our journey to Poly on our blog at www.poly.com.