WORLD: The rebranding exercise that Avid initiated just over a year ago reached an important milestone yesterday (12 April) with the unveiling of a new Pro Tools presence on the avid.com website, writes Mel Lambert. Meanwhile, it was announced at NAB the day before that Avid has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire digital audio console manufacturer Euphonix.
Along with deletion of the Digidesign name, the new website development represents a major step in the company's overall strategy to unite five-previously disparate companies - Avid, Pro Tools, M-Audio, Pinnacle and Sibelius - under a single brand.
The new English-language Pro Tools site will be followed within 30 days with replicate sites in French, German and Spanish for EMEA customers, in addition to Japanese and simple Chinese. Existing workstation products, plus ICON and VENUE mixing systems, will now be offered under the Avid designation.
The horizontal-branding rationale is logical; many customers own products from multiple Avid companies, making one centralised, unified website a more convenient option. Other benefits, Avid says, will include simplified product registration, a single log-in ID plus a one-stop source for product information support and downloads. Avid reasons that in today's rapidly-changing production environment, it no longer makes sense to maintain separate brands; it is also impractical, the company argues, to implement multiple marketing teams, websites, newsletters and separate methods for communicating with existing and future customers.
The new brand strategy will combine all business activities under the single Avid name and website presence, with five end-user segments: Retail, Professional, Post, Enterprise and Education. (Upon seeking further clarification, PSN-e was told that a Live Systems Business group will operate separately within the development organisation, with a focus on driving the development of live products more rapidly.)
According to Avid segment marketing director Adam Castillo, the rebranding strategy "underscores the synergy between production tools that are being grouped together to offer more efficient and more versatile solutions. It will also allow Avid to offer new systems that are customer-centric," rather that product-centric. Avid's design teams have been tasked to focus on four complementary markets: Independent Production, Post Production, Retail and Broadcast, "and to develop audio and video products that directly address our customer's requirements," says Castillo.
The revitalised avid.com website is intended to streamline direct access to Pro Tools user information, via an improved navigation structure. "At first, the website will be US-only," Castillo advises, "but over the next few months Avid will also be moving the international Digidesign websites." To help users get acclimatised, the company will be posting interim pages at digidesign.com, with direct links to important sections. In the near-future, the currently independent M-Audio and Sibelius sites also will be moved, like digidesign.com, to the new avid.com presence. But for now, these sites will continue to operate independently.
Following close discussions with existing Pro Tools customers, Avid reports that the majority of users identify with the product names - such as Pro Tools, VENUE and ICON - rather than component companies or product lines. "It is definitely a paradigm shift," confirms Avid audio product management director Max Gutnik. "By moving Pro Tools' [marketing effort] towards a customer- and solution-driven strategy, we can take advantage of expertise from our other brands, and ensure that Pro Tools users benefit from a broad-based development strategy." The core Digidesign audio team remains at existing offices in Daly City, Northern California.
In terms of synergy between component Avid brands, the product manager cites several specific instances. "Our interoperability between Avid editing systems like Media Composer and Pro Tools will be more formalised," Gutnik says. "Combining forces across all our product lines has provided more resources for Pro Tools' R&D department, thereby streamlining product development." Avid has also included Sibelius notation in Pro Tools.
It remains to be seen whether the horizontal rebranding and homogenisation strategy can stem off loss of market share to such companies as Apple, whose Final Cut Pro and Logic Series workstations are increasingly prominent in the video post and film communities.
Meanwhile, Avid says that the acquisition of Euphonix - announced at NAB and expected to close at the end of April - will enhance its ability to cater to a wide range of workflow requirements.
"This acquisition greatly expands our portfolio to offer customers a complementary set of workflow solutions - from independent producers creating music in their home studios to broadcasters preparing segments for national broadcast," said Gary Greenfield, chairman and CEO, Avid. "We remain committed to driving interoperability and modularity across a vast ecosystem of Avid and third-party creative hardware and software solutions. And, as audio and video workflows continue to converge, we are now well-positioned to deliver control surfaces that work across both audio and video applications, making the content creation process more cost-effective and efficient for our customers."
Avid says that it plans to further develop an open standard protocol that "greatly expands the ecosystem of compatibility" between the Euphonix control surfaces and a wide range of Avid and third-party audio and video applications, including Media Composer and Pro Tools. For existing Euphonix customers, Avid will continue to support EuCon- the Euphonix high-speed Ethernet protocol that enables its control surfaces to interface with third-party software.