Poly Enters the Scene (Plantronics + Polycom = Poly)

After months of waiting, the news is finally out.  Plantronics has a new name.  Polycom has a new name.  The new name = Poly.

You may be wondering, “why a name change,” and “why Poly?” Was there something wrong with either name – Plantronics or Polycom. Not really. And in many ways, there was (is) strength in either or both of those names.

Possible reasons for a name change:

  • The company is entering a new market where its legacy brand recognition adds no value or could even damage its credibility. That is not the case here.
  • A belief that one or both of the legacy names have stopped working or somehow brings more negative energy or a poor reputation to the table. We do not think this applies here.
  • A determination that the Plantronics name in headsets and the Polycom name in phones and video conferencing are not synergistic – or even compatible. We do not believe this was the case here. We expect that over time, people would have accepted a Plantronics group video system or speakerphone, or a line of Polycom headsets.
  • Concerns that the divide between the two legacy firms could not be resolved via a simple assimilation. For example, if the Polycom name was to disappear entirely, would Polycom staff (or resellers or even customers) have a major issue seeing themselves as Plantronics staff, resellers, or customers? Would there be minor leakage or major loss as a result? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
  • The possibility (or reality) of a mis-match in brand recognition. Today, Polycom dominates in enterprise speaker phones, and its name is clearly visible. In many organizations, the Polycom name has become almost generic, like tissues vs. Kleenex. (“I need a Polycom installed in conference room seven,” for example). In contrast, many (if not most?) users probably couldn’t tell you the brand of their UC headset.
  • The desire to spend time and money choosing a new name, creating a new logo, replacing / updating existing marketing materials (website, signage, brochures, etc.), and buying new business cards for thousands of people. And this doesn’t consider the time required to develop and message out a new vision and mission statement. Hopefully this wasn’t the reason.
  • The desire to be the butt of, “Poly want a cracker,” jokes for years to come.
  • To eliminate the “us vs. them” mentality that is almost inevitable after an acquisition of this kind. Having a new name that is neither the name of the acquirer nor the name of the acquired is a step in bringing together the two workforces into an integrated, harmonious team. And yes – we expect this is the #1 (and maybe the #2 and #3) reason for this move.

So now back to the name. Poly is Greek for many. Translated into Poly speak, that means poly (many) people offering its poly-customers and poly-prospects access to poly new ideas and solutions to enable poly new collaboration and teaming experiences with support provided by poly engineers with poly certifications and poly years of experience, etc. At least that’s the idea.

Name choice aside, my read is that the creation of an entirely new entity and brand is Plantronics’ way of saying to its Polycom brethren, and the world at large, that this is more than just adding a new product line to the existing brand. This is Plantronics’ way of paying homage to the power of Polycom, its people, and its loyal customers. And not just in words and internal memos, but by giving up its own branding in favor of the greater good.

OK. Now for the fine print. The company has spent months – quarters actually – reaching this point. And creating a new company and brand is a solid initial step. But this is a light snack, while success here will require a four-course meal (yes – I’m a bit hungry as I write this).

The new Poly will undoubtedly spend the next few months messaging the focus and vision of the new brand. That is a must. However, the real question is whether this new entity will also usher in an environment of uber-innovation, uber-agility, and hopefully uber-accomplishment. That’s the opportunity here – the formation of a new company ready to do business in today’s environment. And that requires more than a new look and feel. It requires a new, next-gen mindset.

Overall, we like this move and the message it gives to the battle-weary Polycom troops and the Polycom loyalists. But to beat the likes of Logitech, Jabra, Cisco, Crestron, and others, Poly will need to take things to the next level of speed, efficiency, and execution.

Poly want a bigger piece of the enterprise communications market? The opportunity is certainly there. You just have to reach out and take it.