“You are a brand,” Steve Yegge, technology prodigy and renowned industry blogger, told listeners in a podcast on software marketing last July. Yegge stressed that branding is essential for open source technologies that strive to compete with Microsoft and other proprietary vendors.
Corporate software vendors like Microsoft have been all over the branding game for a while, but open source vendors have been slower to embrace dogmatic self-promotion.
There is still a gap between IT consumers’ perceptions of open source software and the ideological fuel driving the work of its developers. Corporations are hesitant to weaken their brand appeal by associating their software with open source.
As pointed out in a recent article on customer relationship management software branding, the danger for open source in this environment is that it’s a buyer’s, rather than a seller’s, market. The saying “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t hold anymore, says Yegge.
Open source’s next big move will not be the decision on whether to go commercial. Rather, it will be its ability to produce an identity that buyers — ideological and commercial — can brand as a positive thing.