The Branding of Java (or Sun?)

How many out there have seen/heard/known about Java and how many of you also know about Sun Microsystems, as the company behind its creation?

That was the central question over which Sun changed its NASDAQ ticker to JAVA from SUNW. Jonathan Schwartz; the blogging CEO of Sun; who is spearheading a change at the company writies in his blog about Java, the need to change and the naming of the worldwide brand.

…Java touches nearly everyone – everyone – who touches the internet. Hundreds of millions of users see Java, and its ubiquitous logo, every day. On PC’s, mobile phones, game consoles – you name it, wherever the network travels, the odds are good Java’s powering a portion of the experience.

What’s that distribution and awareness worth to us? It’s hard to say – brands, like employees, aren’t expenses, they’re investments. Measuring their value is more art than science. But there’s no doubt in my mind more people know Java than Sun Microsystems. There’s similarly no doubt they know Java more than nearly any other brand on the internet.

I know that sounds audacious, but wherever I travel in the world, I’m reminded of just how broad the opportunity has become, and how pervasively the technology and brand have been deployed. Java truly is everywhere.


JAVA is a technology whose value is near infinite to the internet, and a brand that’s inseparably a part of Sun (and our profitability). And so next week, we’re going to embrace that reality by changing our trading symbol, from SUNW to JAVA. This is a big change for us, capitalizing on the extraordinary affinity our teams have invested to build, introducing Sun to new investors, developers and consumers. Most know Java, few know Sun – we can bring the two one step closer.

Schwartz recieved a ton of comments/e-mails on this decision. Some good and others bad.

In a previous post he explained the meaning of a brand?

The saying goes, “a brand is a promise.” On a personal level, I’ve always felt that statement was incomplete. A promise is the lowest common denominator of a brand – it’s what people expect. Think of your favorite brand, whether search engine or sneaker or coffee shop or free software, and you’ll know what I mean – a brand is an expectation. If you experience anything less, you’re disappointed. A promise seems like table stakes.

But a brand must go beyond a promise. To me, a brand is a cause – a guiding light. For fulfilling expectations, certainly, as well as dealing with the ill-defined and unexpected. It’s what tells your employees how to act when circumstances (and customers) go awry, or well beyond a training course. My first real experience with that was a personal one.


What’s a brand?

It’s not a logo, an ad campaign or a money back guarantee. At minimum, it’s a promise that helps to define those items. Beyond that, it’s a cause that gives definition to the ill-defined, that tells you how to deal with the unexpected or the uncomfortable. It’s what motivates you to hire that fellow at the front desk, and to foster his instinct to feel, “Eureka, I found an opportunity to build an evangelist!”

That’s not about money or resources or training or contracts. It’s a cause. One your employees – and more critically, your customers – willingly join.

In the follow-up post to the ticker change he explains the process behind naming the Java Brand by sharing a e-mail from James Gosling, the creator of Java.

So, who named Java? Marketing organized the meeting, the consultant ran it, and a whole pile of us did a lot of yelling out of random words. I’m honestly not real sure who said “Java” first, but I’m pretty sure it was Mark Opperman.

There certainly wasn’t any brilliant marketing mind who went through a coherent thought process.

Schwartz concludes, “As with a lot of innovation, not every decision – nor product name, blog or line of code – starts on a spreadsheet. Opportunity’s often far harder to measure.”

An amazing story.


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