SAP hops off .com brandwagon

The German software maker is the latest to try to distance itself from the stigma of the dot-com bust by shedding the .com and e- from its product names and marketing efforts.

Alorie Gilbert Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Alorie Gilbert
writes about software, spy chips and the high-tech workplace.
Alorie Gilbert
2 min read
SAP has become the latest technology company to try to distance itself from the stigma of the dot-com bust by shedding the .com and e- from its product names and marketing efforts.

The company has officially changed the name of its set of business-management applications from mySAP.com to mySAP Business Suite, a company representative said Tuesday. SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, also changed its corporate tag line from "The best-run e-businesses run SAP" to "The best-run businesses run SAP."

With the word "suite," the company also hopes to emphasize the compatibility between its applications, said SAP spokesman Bill Wohl. Plus, the term "e-business" is a bit redundant, he added.

"If you're not an e-business, you're not a business," Wohl said.

Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting, applauded the move.

"It's about time," Greenbaum said. "I think .com has ceased to be a ticket to fame and fortune, and is more of a liability than anything else."

Certainly SAP isn't the first company to cast off the .com from its brand. Numerous companies have discarded the popular suffix and other Internet jargon in the aftermath of the New Economy meltdown. But SAP has adopted and thrown out a number of American-style brand names and corporate logos over the last several years, seemingly in an effort to cast a more fun and friendly image. Its various stabs at new brands show how challenging the marketing of complex business technology can be.

After all, this is a company whose name stands for "Systeme, Anwendungen, Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung" or, in English, systems, applications and products in data processing. Its flagship product, R/3, competes in the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software market. Making all that seem warm and fuzzy would be a challenge for even the most experienced marketing guru.

SAP introduced mySAP.com in 1999 during the height of the dot-com hysteria. But the name at first caused confusion among SAP's customers because the company used it to alternately describe its Internet strategy and a set of products, said Greenbaum.

Another name the company has quietly discarded is EnjoySAP, an initiative it introduced in 1998 to make SAP's user interface more attractive and intuitive, and strangely evocative of the tag line for Coca-Cola. Though the name is a thing of the past, Wohl said the initiative is still alive.

"That wasn't exactly SAP's finest moment," Greenbaum said of the name.

Another kiboshed strategy was a multicolored logo that cast the letters of mySAP.com in rainbow colors.

The question is whether it's also time to retire the "my" in "mySAP," which is meant to suggest that the company's applications can be customized in much the same way that people can tailor the Yahoo Internet portal to suit their needs.

"Stay tuned," said Wohl. "We think we have a strong brand franchise in mySAP. We're not ready to change it just yet."