Liberating who and what your company really is

OpenDrives has been fortunate enough to experience rapid growth over the past two years—this despite the lingering influences of a worldwide pandemic and the associated market fluctuations caused by economic uncertainty. The ability to expand during times of market distress is a hallmark of a strong company, but it’s also a reflection of OpenDrives as a company committed to a singular vision of technical excellence in the data storage market. It takes confidence and courage, after all, to invest into growth, into new employees, products, and directions, when rough seas may be just ahead.

What is rebranding anyway?

I am a life-long marketing and communications professional who places the highest value on organizational branding as the most effective indicator of corporate identity and the surest way to align the company with its strategic vision. As such, I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by the challenge of refreshing a brand (also known as strategic repositioning).

The exercise is equal parts self-exploration, storytelling, and strategic ideation—coming to a deeper and richer understanding of where the company has been, where it is, and where it’s going, and then developing a true and compelling visual and textual narrative of what this all really means for prospects and customers. After all, the only thing customers should care about is how a vendor can enable their own efforts in their core businesses, giving them increased leverage against competitors and helping them thrive in their respective industries.

Authenticity is key

We can all point to various rebranding efforts that appear fabricated and are not in line with a company’s obvious market strategy. At best, these are attempts to redefine a brand before the organization has actually internalized the necessary change or implemented a new strategic direction. Perhaps they feel that by portraying the business and its offers in the desired way it will inspire the organization actually to become so? In this case, the brand repositioning becomes an exemplar for what the company wishes to be (but not necessarily is at the present time). But is it authentic? Never leave the market and potential customers to ponder this question.

In other situations—and we all can probably think of examples here—the rebranding effort itself is a pure façade, trying to paper over an organization, a corporate culture, and a business strategy that cannot or will not change, but still wants to appear in a different or more favorable light. Suffice to say you know them when you see these types of companies portraying themselves in a way that hardly reflects what and who the company really is. Successful marketers know the dangers in telling outright fabrications just to attract attention. Trust me, It never ends well for the organization or their customers.

The evolution of the OpenDrives brand

I’ve been fortunate enough to shepherd along a brand evolution at OpenDrives that earnestly reflects the changes and growth trajectory of the company and its products. It’s been an authentic repositioning that is in complete lock-step with our strategic direction. Nothing fabricated–every single aspect reflective of who we are.

OpenDrives’ reputation was forged in the media and entertainment industry, in which creatives who were also technologists first designed their own supercharged storage solution to solve the performance problems their post-production teams were experiencing first hand. What our founders created was a highly performant storage appliance that was faster and more capable than what the mainstay storage vendors were (and still are) selling. M&E companies responded quite favorably and became some of our earliest and most devoted customers.

And yet, the company has evolved from those early hardware-focused days, never straying from its innovative, problem-solving roots mind you, but evolving as our customers have required into a software-driven organization. Our powerful Atlas Core software enables us to extend our storage solutions into so many different workflows, workloads, use cases, and industries. Through software, we’re able to instill simplicity, flexibility, scalability, and modularity into what we bring to market. Always for the customer, and always to help them achieve more by unleashing their own innovation and creative engines. Put simply, OpenDrives helps our customers outperform in all the ways they need to in order to survive and thrive in the market.

Over the past year, as OpenDrives has evolved even further, adding to our staff and performing critical R&D into new markets and solutions, I wanted to make sure that our brand reflected just how far we’ve come, and where our go-to-market strategy is taking us. I was tempted to tweak the entire performance/outperformance narrative and brand imagery, but quite frankly that’s still at the core of who we are and what we do. That would be walking down the road of those façade-building organizations that use new branding as a cover. We still embrace what made our offers special in the beginning.

The answer literally was right in front of me, though. By emphasizing the “drive” portion of our name as a verb rather than a noun, I was able to convey how the concept of “open” drives us to outperform as a company. From an open-mindedness that enables us to really listen to prospects and customers, to the open standards, protocols, and integration methods we embrace as a collaborative technology company, it is the concept of “open” that makes us unique—we are Open! This is who we genuinely are as a company, and it was always broadcast in our name.

Everybody benefits from a rebrand

You don’t have to reinvent your company as the by-product of a strategic realignment. As a matter of fact, the alignments and course corrections should come first organically as your organization evolves and grows. Rebranding and strategic repositioning are the artistic efforts to put the appropriate spotlight on your true DNA and corporate growth trajectory in order to show your customers (and potential customers) who you really are and, more importantly, what you can do for them.

I do want to point out one thing that’s often overlooked: the internal audience within your organization (your own employees) is as important as the external one (your customers and prospects). The entire process is like holding up a mirror for the company to view and see itself clearly, to understand what you value and what your core principles are, and to behave and collaborate as a fully synchronized team. This, of course, ultimately benefits your customers, too, but it really helps your entire company get there as a team.

Once I opened myself up to the possibility that my rebrand was in front of me all along, sitting right there in our corporate name, all the pieces fell into place. It was simply a matter of emphasizing different parts of what make us special as an organization, accentuating what truly has been driving us all along. Holding up the mirror so we could all see where we’ve been and where we’re going—together.

These corporate self-discoveries are the true joy that I find in authentic branding and marketing.