Catalogue-Driven Technology Company, Sigma, Refreshes Brand With Distility

The Company

Sigma Systems, a Toronto-based global provider of catalogue-driven Idea-to-Install products for communications, media and high tech companies. With its powerful technology platform for product catalogues, pricing and sales quotation, order management and provisioning, Sigma makes it easier for companies to sell, install and service their products.

The Challenge

In July 2013, Sigma Systems sealed a deal to buy Tribold Limited, a company based in London, England that had grown into the world’s leading provider of Enterprise Product Management software. The acquisition enabled Sigma to fill a product gap and establish a foothold in the European telecommunications market.

It also changed the company’s identity overnight, from one that cohesively conveyed a mature, solid company to a contrast of two personalities.

“The company we acquired viewed itself more as an aggressive young startup – agile and bold,” says Rick Mallon, VP of Marketing and Product Management at Sigma Systems, which has 350 employees and offices in Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan and India. “Bringing those two personalities together was very difficult, but it was critical that we change our messaging to reflect who we are now, and what we want to be known for in the marketplace.”

The Solution: Distility Brand Strategy Workshop

About a month after it acquired Tribold, Sigma Systems began shopping around for a branding agency. Rebranding internally was out of the question, says Mallon.

“There are very strong personalities at the executive level at Sigma and the acquired company,” says Mallon. “We had very different ideas – a recipe for disaster, so I knew right away we needed a third party to come in and help.”

The company looked at several firms in Europe and Canada before narrowing its choices down to two companies: a European agency and Distility Branding in Toronto. Sigma chose Distility.

“Price was a factor, but just as important were the positive reference checks and Distility’s innovative process for helping companies come up with their brand and brand messaging,” says Carolyn Anderson, Sigma’s Global Director of Marketing and Communications. “The fact that the branding workshop was just one day was also very important to us. Not only did we not have a lot of time to spare on rebranding, we also needed to get it done as soon as possible.”

The Result: A New Brand in a New Category – All in 1 Day

Ten members from the leadership team of the newly merged companies came to the Distility Brand Strategy workshop, which was held at St. Andrew’s Club & Conference Centre in Toronto. Working on iPads supplied by Distility, the rebranding participants shared their ideas and views on Sigma’s new brand identity. It was not an easy task, says Mallon, because they were essentially discarding two strong and well-supported brands to create a new identity.

What made a huge difference in the process, says Anderson, was Distility’s unique workflow and proprietary technology, which work together to advance participants from exploration in the morning to consensus and commitment in the afternoon. By day’s end, Sigma had a new brand promise, personality and position, captured succinctly in the Distility 1Page Brand Strategy.

“When you look at our product suite, it allows telco operators to take their products and quickly get them into ordering systems and install them into networks,” says Mallon. “So we decided to brand ourselves as the Idea-to-Install company, basically creating a new category.”

A Stronger Employer Brand, Shared Through a Common Language

Sigma’s new brand also gave the company a powerful platform on which to build and articulate its values as an employer. Distility CEO and brand technologist Axle Davids worked with Jocelyn Bryce, Sigma’s VP of Human Resources, to define the company’s brand as an employer.

“People are the most critical factor to the success of a merger,” says Bryce. “We wanted to energize our people and get them behind our brand, but to do that we had to codify the values of our company and our team.” Davids and Bryce met after Sigma’s Distility Brand Strategy Workshop to brainstorm ideas around Sigma’s culture and values. Davids also met with Tim Spencer, Sigma’s President, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder.

“He interviewed Tim to learn more about his background, leadership style and overall approach to people,” recalls Bryce. “From that meeting, Axle pulled some of Tim’s language into how we formulated the end result of our employer brand value.”

An Inspiring Visual System that Clearly Articulates the Brand

With its brand defined, Sigma asked Distility to execute its visual system, including its wordmark, a new colour palette, designs for envelopes and letterhead, business cards, and website skin. Soon after, the company unveiled its new brand at a company-wide event.

“The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, people liked the messaging and they liked how it was articulated visually – the new wordmark and colour scheme were pretty popular with everyone in the company,” says Mallon. “There’s no question in my mind that with Distility, we got a better set of coherent messages and got our two companies together faster than we could have otherwise.”