ColdFusion needs a name change
In marketing, your brand is pretty much everything. You lose control of your brand or image and well you can usually kiss your product goodbye in time. Case in point, Coke - great brand and they work extremely hard for over a hundred years to maintain that. As a result, it's nearly impossible to find someone who doesn't know Coke and something of the brand. They may prefer Pepis or Dr Pepper but they typically have nice things to say about Coke. Another case in point, Toyota and their recent troubles with their vehicles. The real problem, they face, is the damage to their brand is so great that future customers may look elsewhere for their next car.
My wife and I bought a GM car last year and I did a simple experiment during the process. The car she loved even before we started looking had a number of similar clones. All the clones were from different branches of the GM family. Here's the fun part, the wheel base, transmission, engine, etc. were all the same. The only different was the skin and brand name of the vehicle. She hated all the clones but loved the brand that was designed for her.
The simple fact is people do judge their books by the covers. We may not like it but it's just the way people work. Managing your image is critically important specially in the IT industry. Let's face it, most people/companies stick to the technology they fall into. They rarely make changes unless forced and when that day does come and they are looking for options - branding becomes extremely important. We're talking about the growth of a technology and its community. If the branding is off, things will go bad over time.
The one thing Adobe has been fairly consistent about is its terrible brand management. This probably has to do with the fact that the majority of products are purchased or acquired through mergers. Here's a sample list..
Photoshop - purchased form the original developers
ColdFusion - from mergers Allaire, Macromedia and now Adobe
Flash - FutureSplash purchased from the developers and then acquired by the Macromedia merger
Dreamweaver - from the Macromedia merger
The basic pattern appears to be to acquire products/technologies from outside and then ride them out with a rapid version release schedule and low cost, overseas development. This is a strategy and yes they have made money with it. But, take a look at the branding on most of their product lines, it's not great. I've seen people who have used Photoshop for years and yet get pretty ticked off that after a couple of years they find themselves 2 versions behind on the product.
We have also seen a lot of problems this past month in the branding of Flash. In my opinion, Adobe has also handle this extremely poorly.
Even new products tend to also get mismanaged branding from the folks at Adobe. Flex, AIR, Livecycle have all experience this first hand.
Yes, I'm sure Adobe has sales figures that show growth in many of their lines. That doesn't mean they are managing their brands well. Let's face it, the closest competitor to Photoshop is Fireworks and they're both are owned by Adobe. Adobe has been extremely fortunate not to have many direct competitors. That will likely change over time.
Branding has a long term impact, you won't see it in the quarterly sales figures. Domino's Pizza figure that out. Adobe, I suspect, will too.
ColdFusion has suffer more than most. Allaire was too small and Macromedia was too focused on their other product lines. Adobe appears to have deeper pockets, but that doesn't translate in better branding. The 'ColdFusion' brand at this point is very damaged. It's not entirely fair but the that's where we find ourselves.
We can only hope that Adobe learns from its mistakes and starts implementing better brand management, but in the mean time there are things the ColdFusion team can do to help turn things around. I usually don't recommend this because rebuilding a new brand is never easy, but..
It's time to change the name!
Seriously, the 'ColdFusion' name was horrible to begin with since it referred to a pseudo-science. It hasn't done much since. The technology is great and truly revolutionary. The brand has never once reflected that - and that's been a real problem for all of us. When you hear someone mention their negative feelings towards ColdFusion, it's usually referring to the CF 5 and older days. The technology is almost completely evolved into a different species since then, and it's time to start over and create a new and proper image for this technology. Adobe should work very carefully and find a new image for this great product, and no that doesn't mean appending the name with 'LiveCycle' ;)