Poly

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Yes, Poly. A simple, two syllable word is the new name of the combined Plantronics and Polycom.

I had heard rumors that a new brand was in the works, so I had given it some thought myself: Which name (Plantronics or Polycom) is better, and how to rename the company and still leverage brand equity. It’s not an easy one to solve, but I think they did good.

I’ve never liked the name Plantronics. The name has been in telecom longer than me, so it’s a brand I just accepted. I’ve always had a positive association with the brand, but the name didn’t really convey anything. That didn’t seem to matter much as most telecom professionals new and respected the brand, but times are different.

Plantronics has way more competition than ever before. Not only are its largest customers making their own headsets now, but the consumer space has exploded with quality (and junky) headset, headphone, and personal speaker devices. Plantronics isn’t just selling just to NASA engineer types any more – now prospects include hoverboard dudes.

On the other hand, I’ve always liked the name Polycom – albeit a bit tarnished from its heyday. The new name clearly leverages the Polycom brand, differentiates it from the past, and shortens it (seems like “communications” and “networks” are regularly being dropped from brands these days). It’s a simple and appropriate company name.

I am pleased with the naming, but more impressed with the larger branding. I like the new logo of three lowercase Ps. Together, they form what looks like a speaker saucer, a lot like the one in the Smithsonian. Also, and this is not obvious, the overall shape of the logo is a triangular. I take that as a hat tip to the original Polycom logo. I was never a fan of the three circle logo change they implemented a few years back.

Logos are as hard as names, and they managed to create a distinct, symmetrical, bold (orange) logo that will fit nicely on headsets. I normally don’t get caught up in colors too much, but most of Poly’s products are indeed black, so the orange provides an effective contrast. It’s also modern and retro at the same time similar to the GE meatball: the poly logo is a propeller.

I like to pretend that names and logos don’t really matter, but they do. They need to be distinct, ideally (though rarely) meaningful, short, memorable, and international. Poly hits on all accounts. Poly is Greek which means its easy to understand and generally understood to mean many. As in many models, many headset connectors, many solutions to many problems with many products.

When the Plantronics-Polycom deal was announced, I had concerns. Do two companies under pressure help each other or increase the pressure? But I like what i am seeing (and hearing). The new brand is a start, and I also like the new Polycom Studio for video rooms. I’ve been enjoying the new VVX 450 on my desk.

Poly is absolutely doing the right thing by focusing on hardware AND software. This remains difficult for many companies and there’s still a bias toward software. Headsets, in particular, are increasingly viewed as a hardware commodity, but they are not. Poly is taking their decades of expertise into the future with rich analytics and management.

There’s many things to like about Poly.

Dave Michels