Dissecting Mosaid's high-tech rebranding

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David Sali, Ottawa Business Journal
October 8, 2013

David Placek knows that better than almost anyone. So when the executives at Mosaid approached his company, Lexicon Branding, about changing the Ottawa firm’s name to reflect its shift from product development to patent licensing, he happily took the job.

“Mosaid is a little difficult to spell and its pronunciation varies,” says Mr. Placek, whose California-based company is responsible for coming up with such well-known brand names as BlackBerry and Swiffer. “I think that Mosaid just did not as a name reflect who they are and where they’re going.”

With the help of Lexicon and Ottawa-based marketing firm McMillan & Associates, Mosaid rebranded itself as Conversant Intellectual Property Management last month. The old logo – which wouldn’t look out of place alongside graphics generated in the disco era – was ditched in favour of a cleaner design in which the ‘c’ is mirrored by a partial ‘o,’ as if the two letters are engaging in a conversation, with a period as a “decision point” in the middle, explains McMillan creative director Alain Brunet.

Part of the challenge of working with Mosaid was the business it’s in, where firms are sometimes derisively referred to as “patent trolls,” says Joanne Gallop, a strategist at McMillan, which came up with the logo design.

“The (patent licensing) industry as a whole is tainted by some companies that don’t behave terribly well,” she explains. “Conversant can’t really change the industry’s reputation in one fell swoop, but they can certainly work on their own. What we worked with them to do was develop a description that expressed their responsible approach to the business.”

Mr. Brunet says the new name and logo work hand in hand to help create an image of a responsible, accessible company.

“Conversant really means being (an) expert and knowledgeable in your field, but there’s also this sense of conversation that naturally comes through the name and is part of how they do their business,” he says. “They enter into respectful dialogue rather than some of the more aggressive companies. So we wanted to bring that forward into the logo itself.

“In a way, it does describe the perfect scenario, which is we have a conversation and we come to a mutual agreement. That’s essentially what the logo was designed to invoke.”

For the most part, the new branding achieves what it set out to do, observes Don Masters, president and creative director of Mediaplus Advertising, whose firm has done work for Ottawa Tourism and the Rideau Centre.

“They wanted people to take away that they were approachable and accessible, and I think that they’ve captured that very well,” he says.

“A lot of tech companies these days are very aware of the need to not come across as being too techie, if you know what I mean. I think keeping the human element in a high-tech brand is probably the biggest challenge.”

It also passes one of the key litmus tests for a successful logo, he adds.