Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Force Mobility! Cyberwar! Is Sotera a Re-Brand or a New Brand? Let's Talk...

There are likely to be many reasons why Global Defense and Technology Solutions has changed its name to Sotera Defense Solutions. In the case of this mid-sized defense contractor, though, why would it have called the change it announced on April 5 a “re-brand?”

Milspeak buzzwords aside, let's go back to basics – what is branding? The American Marketing Association says that “a brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme.” So the new Sotera identity is a brand.

What does it stand for? The company's press release notes:

...the name Sotera is derived from Greek mythology and represents the spirit of safety preservation and deliverance from harm. Officials said the new name reflects the company's focus on meeting national security needs.

That's what the company's new website says:

We deliver Technology and Intelligence Services and Field Mobility and Modernization Systems to protect the safety and economic well-being of our nation.

So it is not a re-brand but a new brand. Analyze it and we'll get to the core of the company's revised position. (In fact, Soter is an ancient identifier of Zeus as protector; more recently, Sotera is a Greek girls' name, and both forms mean savior.) Consider that Sotera has just been purchased by a private equity group for about $315 million, and that the purchaser is an affiliate of Ares Management LLC, it looks as though the new owners are going to go through the entire Greek pantheon eventually.

Despite the generic logo and color scheme, there's good news: Sotera's stakeholders are so defined, so focused, that there's little chance the company will ever be a strongly branded player even in the defense industry – an arena whose players are rarely noted* for strong public brand awareness. Sotera will simply continue to be a good source of highly specialized military/intelligence services and a good money-maker.

Let us merely hope no one ever calls for a cyberwar scenario analysis and ends up with a hospital patient vital signs monitor...from Sotera Wireless in San Diego.

*For this post, put aside the “classic” defense contractor brands such as Boeing; as well as the politically notorious ones And clearly, Signalwriter would like to hear what the company's Loren Peduzzi and Ares's agency representative, Bill Mendel, say they're going to make of all this. Thanks in advance for the blog fodder, you guys.

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