In late September 2007, IBM announced that it would bring back the Lotus Symphony brand. Lotus Symphony was one of the first MS-DOS based office suites. IBM later acquired Lotus. This software, however, runs on open source, the Open Source Sun software called StarOffice. The good news? It’s free.
So why would a person get a free download of Lotus Symphony over free download of Star Office? Branding. The branding comes from Lotus (a great brand preserved) and then a sub-brand, Symphony, all a part of IBM, though the IBM label is not as prominent as Lotus.
That the name Lotus Symphony has returned tells yet another lesson about preserving brand names. It’s fun to keep an old name around. And the old product doesn’t have to be exactly the same thing, just similar. Not only do consumers like it, it honors the legacy of people like Mitch Kapor.
The point of saving old brand names isn’t just in selling more stuff, though it helps (although in this case, IBM has to only give away free downloads). The point? It gives everyone a sense of narrative. Because when the world changes as much as it does, having something familiar around, even if it is something as utilitarian as Lotus Symphony, is kind of nice.
Especially if its free.