Avid, the parent company of music product makers Digidesign, M-Audio, and Sibelius, has decided to assert the brand of its mothership more aggressively. As near as I can tell, that means you won’t see the M-Audio, Digidesign, or Sibelius brand names any more – along with video maker Pinnacle. You’ll see, presumably, Avid Pro Tools? (Right now, you see the Digi site with an Avid banner across the top that says “Digidesign is Avid.” But that was true before, so I don’t really know what this exactly means.)
Avid has also unveiled a new logo made, cleverly, to look like transport buttons on video and audio equipment.
I have to say, I have extremely mixed feelings about this, for a number of reasons. And by mixed, I mean mixed – this could be really positive, or really … not. The good news is, having one brand and one brand strategy probably does make a whole lot of sense. The (potential) downside:
- Avid may be the weaker of the brands here. It’s known among video people, but not necessarily even beloved there. Digidesign and M-Audio, meanwhile, touch wider user bases, and have real resonance with musicians.
- Will combining video and audio products actually work? Will a single brand really help? Sony has tried to do just this, with less-than-stellar results – perhaps because the video, audio, pro music, and “consumer” music markets (and their many factions within those umbrellas) are so particular. Sony has much bigger brand recognition than Avid (understatement), but even that hasn’t really made products like Acid or Sound Forge or (for video) Vegas substantially more popular. It works for Apple, but that’s because people associate Apple’s products with the computers they buy – and, well, they’re Apple and normal rules don’t seem to apply.
- You can’t read the new logo. Sure, the triangles are clever, but you can’t actually read the letters. Also, aren’t old-school hardware transport buttons a bit dated in this day and age? I’m going to assume all of that gets sorted out in practice, so I’m not actually worried about this, but I did have to point it out.
On the other hand, Avid’s combination of Digidesign, M-Audio, and Sibelius, plus the Avid/Pinnacle stuff on the video side really is a whole heck of a lot of what the music and video production world is about, and that hasn’t been clear. So despite the caveats and dangers, there is potential here. It’s all in the details.
And more important than branding is how Avid relates to its customers, and how the company operates. If that goes right, the brand will respond.
The press release promises not just a new identity, but a “new strategy” and “a new operating model.” But it isn’t clear, yet, what that actually means in the real world, particularly on the audio end.
The press release isn’t terribly encouraging, though, as it immediately shifts to Avid-centric, ultra-high-end / pro video solutions. Those products are extremely important. It’s tough to know just how anyone could find a way to relate that to a person buying a $100 plastic MIDI controller at the other end of the market, so I don’t envy the job of the business folks at Avid. At the same time, I do believe it’s possible to run a business that covers that gamut.
I’m going to talk to the Avid folks about this next week to get a better understanding. But because I expect many pro audio folks will react similarly on first brush, I decided in the interest of bloggy disclosure to go ahead and publish my initial reaction.
Let us know your questions or thoughts, and I’ll pass them along to
Digidesign/M-Audio Avid next week.