Please note that this article predates Nettiapina Oy by a couple of years.
Please note that I’m not a developer or member of the Midgard team. I have very little knowledge of the discussion in the community, so the text below may very well be worthless drivel.
Midgard can mean many things. As Bergie points out:
For some developers Midgard means the libmidgard object persistence and replication library, and its various language bindings. For some it is MidCOM, an MVC framework for PHP that can be used to build any kind of web services. For some it is a component specific for a task like event registrations management or direct marketing. And finally, for some it is a full end-user application suite like Midgard CMS or OpenPsa.
I see the CMS as the primary product.
It should be noted that I’m an ex-Midgard consultant and a hobbyist site builder. I’m kind of an “end user” for the product – able to install and operate it on a reasonable level, but seldom really participating in the community discussion or development. I’m exited of new development around Midgard, but probably not going to utilize much of the new functionality. I use other tools for direct marketing. To put it bluntly: for me “Midgard” means “Midgard CMS”.
Midgard is quite complicated system in all, with a lot of potential to build on. The installation has gotten much better in the last year or so, but the system does and will require root access, therefore making it quite hard to compete with PHP content management systems that are installable on any hosting account. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing – just that the typical user is quite probably not like me, but a developer. Perhaps the whole thing would be best marketed to the developers, thus leaving the CMS as “just another module”.
I see these as the essential questions:
- What is the target audience for Midgard? Are you going to market for a person like me, or a hardcore developer – or both?
- What about companies or corporations?
- What is the core benefit or product highlight for each group?
Choosing the right target audience is an essential thing in marketing, even if the marketing doesn’t cost you any money. It helps to organize the scarce resources better, but also to keep the message clear and easy to comprehend. Of course, you can have several target groups and marketing points, or even “paths” for different target groups if that’s needed. I would keep one main message, and keep the other interesting points under it.
Targeted marketing also helps to present different message on different forums: for example “Midgard CMS” for generic use, and “Development platform” for developers. The point here is that you should tailor the message to the person you’re communicating with.
On naming and name changes
Midgard 2 and MidCOM 3 are bringing significant changes that may reposition the CMS and platform on the market. Name change could communicate that there’s something fundamentally new and different about the product. A “new beginning” with a new name might even spark newfound interest in the CMS or project.
On the other hand, launching and keeping several separate brand names is often thought to be expensive. In open source software, it’s not about money, but the hard work, resources, time and persistence to get the new name out. Midgard is “brand name” for the project. Even though not as well-known as Drupal or Plone, it’s been around for years, and can be found around the net. Simply throwing in a totally new name may not lead anywhere, unless you’re prepared to market it, and a name change might confuse the existing users.
You need go no further than Mashable to get a daily torrent of new and exiting startups and webapps, all with cute and clever names that no-one can remember. It’s getting hellishly difficult to present and differentiate your newly branded software and profile in this crowd.
Names like “Midgard Platform” and “Midgard CMS” are somewhat dull, but they have advantages: they tell what the product is, and they contain the main brand name. In my opinnion, underlying techical stuff is not that important when naming or marketing a product such as this. The audience is usually interrested in the features and benefits – not the exact components, interfaces and whatnot. You should avoid cramming too much information in the marketing message.
I see renaming and rebranding as a two-edged sword. Also: Viking-style names are not the easiest to remember.