Imagine going back in time to your childhood, imagine sitting again in the school playground with a white chalk in your hand. Playground has a large black tarmac surface. You stoop down low to the ground and draw the biggest and smoothest circle that you can with your big white chalk, you manage to draw an irregular eclipse of about three meters in diameter. That’s good enough. Now with your adult eyes, I can tell you that circle that you just drew represents the population of the world, the universe of human beings as we know it, or the mathematical Greek letter symbol, the capital letter E for Epsilon.
What are these little markers? #0
Simple click outside the dialog or touch else where on the page to pop this dialog down.
Now you know!
Now imagine walking to the centre of your big white circle and then getting on your hands and knees and then drawing a substantially smaller circle that is so tiny, it is one-inch in diameter with your white chalk. That tiny circle represents the current brand Java EE, these are all technical and non-technical people who have business with the umbrella specification. You have to widen your hearts and mind. Think of not only software developers, operation, administrators, but architects, business managers, directors and HR people, facilitators who have to deal with this brand. You see this tiny circle represents the community and also the brand.
I am definitely inside this tiny circle, because I have written two books on Java EE 7. You probably already know about Java EE and work with it professionally as a developer. If so you are also inside this circle. If you develop code with Spring Framework you are also standing inside this circle definitely. What concerns me is the integrity, identity and reputation of the future new brand selection for Java EE and how it will be seen and emoted about outside of our tiny circle into the wide world.
But first, let’s learn about what brands are,
Whats are classic brands?
Here is my simplified, but not simplistic definition of a brand:
A brand is an emotional trigger that causes an empathetic mental sensation, a stimulus of memory and a feeling that strongly associates to a business product and/or a collective representing human endeavor, which is most of the time financially for-profit, but can be altruistic.
Note that the stimulus can be positive or negative depending on the context, the person experiencing and the perception of the business product, the underlying business being the brand. The stimulus is always dynamic and can switch back and forth between positivity, neutrality and negativity over time.
So let’s drill down. What exactly is a brand?
- A brand is an identity
- A brand is an >image
- A brand is a relationship
Let’s take a famous brand like Coca Cola #1. It has a clear identity of a fizzy soft carbonated black sugary sweet drink with a name. There is a popular image and over one hundred year marketing log for the drink. There is a relationship between the company that sells the drink and the people who choose to drink the product. There is even a relationship between the Coca-Cola the company and people who flatly refuse to drink the product.
Let’s look at another brand, Bentley Motors #2, which is famous for selling luxury cars that the average working-class person cannot afford. Expensive is part of the identity and the perceived desired value is also the relationship.
Here is a popular indicator of the brand Bentley and how it relates to an altogether different domain than car manufacturing.
“There’s no [IT] skills shortage…only a skill shortage at certain price points, just like there’s a shortage of [available] Bentleys at £15,000.”
Brands are difficult to pin down, because marketeers have continuously broken the mold inventing new ways to psychological methods to drive home the association (in a good way) so that ordinary prospective customer remember the product. So let’s drill down even further into the rabbit hole.
Constituent Parts of Contemporary Brands.
- Brand Logo – a graphical symbology, image and identity such as McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s swish or Volkswagen’s circle VW (clear throwback to the agricultural semantic meaning of the word)
- Legal instrument – represents a copyright, a patent, an image right or naming rights – an example of this could the Nike’s silhouette image of Michael Jordan’s jumpshot where he is jumping high with his legs splayed apart as he dunked a basketball into a net.
Company – such as Coca Cola.
- Shorthand – an abbreviation for perceived better quality, value for money and desirability, the German car manufacturer BMW (Bayern Motor Work group) is a clear example is often compared to other luxury class leader’s such as Audi and Mercedes Benz.
- Risk reducer – reassures the customer when they are a difficult territory; old business thinking from “always buy Microsoft, because they are top of the operating systems”
- Personality – the design of a smartphone such as iPhone X appears to differentiate to others on the market.
- Positioning – the brand name for different car makers often exudes quality attributes such as being faster, stronger and better depends on the selection and here is another example between supermarkets and food stores. The smaller outfits Aldi and Lidl have taken market share away from the large superstores Sainsburys, Tescos and Asda, because of the perception of price, value and quality and political uncertainty about leaving the European Union and economic uncertainty; the cost of living.
- Cluster of values – a characteristic that a brand shows multiple potential benefits to customers. Traditional department stores such Marks and Spencers and John Lewis are example of these in Britain. In the United States, Macy’s and Nordstrom are similar brands that demonstrate clusters of values: openness, variety, honesty, quality, time efficiency and value for money.
- Vision – a characteristic of brand that represents leadership, inspiration and direction – this can be temporal or permanent Virgin Galactic Spaceship One, Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space X are future thinking brands. Boston Dynamics autonomous robotics and Google’s self driving cars are other examples.
- Added value – a characteristic of a brand to demonstrate quality over other competing brands – the example of the supermarket price wars Aldi over Asda and vice versa, car manufacturers perceived value of Volkswagen over Skoda and Skoda over Volkswagen.
Characteristics of the current Java EE Brand
The current Java EE 8 brand exhibits certain brand characteristics.
- Java EE definitely has a graphical logo, but it is hardly ever used or promoted Bentley Motors #3
- Java EE is a legal instrument, which is now has a new home under the Eclipse Foundation
- Java EE was an indirect company, even though Java Community Process (JCP) managed it. Oracle had a powerful veto on the EE platform.
- Java EE is certainly a risk reducer for business. Because the overall specification is based on standards, then customers are able to choose which application server provider or servlet container to deploy their enterprise and web application.
- Java EE is an umbrella specification controlled by the JCP and it is a collective of individual specifications. Therefore Java EE has a cluster of values.
- Java EE has personality, I believe in the negative consequence through the bad memories of Enterprise Java Beans (EJB version 1.0 and 2.0 and the awful reception of the J2EE).
- Java EE has slight positioning to the other side world in conjunction with the Java Virtual Machine. Try explaining to a novice IT director the different between Microsoft .Net platform and the Java platform to see my point.
- Java EE has a shorthand, but of course, for Enterprise Edition.
THe logo is not the brand, Oracle did not promote it enough at critical times in the project’s lifespan.
There is a lot of value in the current brand. Let’s take a break here and in the section we will look case studies.
Java EE is an information technology brand and I feel it is worth looking examining and learning from other successful technical brands. This will be a short overview of the critical points that make each one ticks.
On 1st April 2011, The W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium) announced the HTML5 Logo and Branding #4< for its efforts to promote the next web standard. The overall graphic language design of the emblazen shield logo was stunning. It clearly underlined the mission statement of W3C “This logo represents HTML5, the cornerstone for modern Web applications.”
What parts of this brand were particularly insightful?
The successful parts of this brand were:
- The bold graphic language of the logo, for most people it was visually attractive and inspired
- The sub module parts of the broad HTML5 specification remit such as WebSocket, WebWorkers, CSS 3.0 were depicted a smaller logo brands. There is definite vision and the W3C knew where they wanted to be in five years
- Participants and the wider community were encouraged to promote the brand without penalty using the Creative Commons license. This is clear example of positioning.
- There is a goto-webpage with all of the information about the brand, including where to buy tee-shirts and how to generate SVG logos for your blog and web pages. An example of the positioning and there I say it emotional empathy.
What can Java learn from this brand?
Java EE Next should consider a strong graphical language for a new brand logo. Let the shield logo speak to the world. The highly graphic approach appealed equivocally to the web designer and developer communities. Java EE should encourage futher community perception. The Eclipse Foundation could follow W3C role as the chief supporter, financial backer and manager; and give priority and extra kudos to the constituent Java EE technologies like CDI, JAX-RS, Security with similar graphic sub-logos.
Firefox and Mozilla
Which Java EE software engineer has never heard of Mozilla Corporation and their very successful web browser, Firefox. The existence of the flighty wiley fox and the globe were a knockout delight when Mozilla first pushed their brand out in the early Noughties. Firefox has been rocking desktops in the corporate office ever since its release and Mozilla took the heat out of Microsoft’s proprietary Internet Explorer 5 and 6 web browsers. Firefox was a big hit, because it was leaner and based on web standard.
The successful parts of this brand were:
- Attractive logo and graphic language around an eye-catching language with high regard of social ethical values. Mozilla continue to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Internet. Firefox has very strong identity.
- Establishing the identity of Mozilla Corporation with a long-term vision.
- The mass appeal to even non-technical people around the world. Firefox is a personality brand.
What can Java learn from this brand?
Java EE Next can learn widespread appeal from the original Firefox brand. It even now stands the test of time for well over a decade. Firefox represents the cluster of better humane values in the 21st century and yet keeps a hold of a deep technical audience, who are grateful for web development standards, despite recent controversies around homosexuality and one toxic managing director #5.
There should be no surprise to find that Spring Framework and now recently Spring Boot feature in brand case study. Every Java EE developer, designer and architect will have heard of and probably built an application using Spring Framework and it is modules. Spring “the brand” might be seen as some as the bane in Java EE’s back side, but without this framework, then it fairly doubtful that we would have see JCP adopt “ease-of-development” features such as support for the POJO programming model, EJB 3.0, CDI and most recently MVC.
The successful parts of this brand were:
- Spring Framework as a strong identity and depending on which engineer you speak to they are for or against it, just like Marmite (check out this brand yourself #6).
- Ever since Spring launched a green tree leaf as a logo, this is the graphic language that has survived across the many different corporations and businesses behind the framework from Interface 21 to Spring Source to VMWare to Pivotal. This is a characteristic then of positioning and risk reduction.
- The Spring brand depicts personality “being the bane”, risk-reducer other companies want to follow other business who use Spring technologies or hear about it
What can the next Java EE brand learn from this brand?
There is a pragmatic side of building a new brand. People may hate you or love you and your brand. How they choose will depend on the sense of corporate sensitivity of the businesses backing the brand. Consistency of the logo, graphical style and environment is your best friend, especially if your business expects to go through severe digital transformation.
Other notable mentions
I could chosen several other brands to case study, I will just list these technology brands instead:
- Adobe Flex and Flash (a brand so powerful that even Steven Paul Jobs had a go at it in 2010!)
- Ubuntu the ecologically and social inspired Linux distribution
- Linux Foundation and derivation of penguins
- Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint
- Oracle relational database (strong visual red colour in its banner, website and merchandise)
- Red Hat with its distinctive fedora (yet another strong visual brand, originally from Linux eco-system)
Considerations for a new brand selection Java EE brand
A future Java EE brand must have these criteria:
- Must have a strong graphical image, a logo to die for and visual language (identity)
- Must be contemporary and drive the vision to the future
- Must be social and empathetic (cluster of values)
- Must be inspirational and convincing with mass appeal (cluster of values)
- Must continue to be technical-driven (risk-reducer)
The most difficult part of the selection process is choosing a brand name. Under the rules, the new name cannot infringe on the Oracle’s trademark guidelines. It simply means that the new brand name cannot start with the word “Java”. The new name must confirm to Eclipse guideline.
- Would you be happy to have the new brand name written on your curriculum vitae (CV)?
- Would you proudly stand behind the new brand name?
- Does the new brand name inspire the next generation of Java engineers?
- Would you happily sit a certification exam with the new brand name?
Now that Enterprise Edition is effectively over as far as Oracle is concerned, what does it mean for Java Mobile Edition (Java ME). Oracle has not revealed the destiny for mobile, at the time of writing. In my opinion, holding onto, then to the acronym EE makes no sense anymore. So we can break with convention, if we choose to.
What if we chose a brand name from the animal kingdom in the way that Mozilla did with their Firefox web browser? Admittedly, companies have been exploiting characteristics of animals for over hundred years. Think of how many car manufacturers grabbed the virtues of speed, cunning and daring from an race horse, a lion, cheetah, tiger and etc. Yes, these male sexualised from the point of view of human beings, animals have been done to death, but take a look at our reference implementation application server, what is it called? It was originally anointed by Sun Microsystems as Glassfish. When Oracle abandoned commercial support for GlassFish, what was the brand name of the successor? Payara Fish. Perhaps there is something in this creature inspired brand naming. What is the name of the successor to JBoss as an open source application server? They called it Wild Fly.
Recently in Britain, we have been privileged to watching a magnificent ocean wildlife documentary series on the BBC called Blue Planet Planet II, narrated by world famous naturalist, Sir David Attenborough #7. We have seen brilliant cinematography of the deep blue oceans including the Australian Barrier Reef, all sorts of crustaceans, whales, sharks and jellyfish. Trust me, it has been fantastic educational viewing on Sunday evenings.
If the brand name is to be inspired by a creature, could we not look to a bird of flight as well as fish in the sea? How about a flamingo, an albatross, a petrel or even a red kite. Albatrosses have a tremendous wingspan about three metres across, the largest in the bird kingdom. An albatross could represent the characteristic umbrella specification nature of the platform.
If we are stuck for creature names in our inspiration, could we choose the brand new name based on geographical location. Jakarta has already been taken by Apache Software Foundation, being the main city on the island of Java. Has anyone yet written a framework and named it Antarctica? A big issue is actually, drawing a logo or coming up with great graphic design.
Let’s come up for air. Let’s breather.
We clearly fighting an identity paradox around our tiny circle of one inch diameter chalk. In the end, we who exist in this circle are conflicted. However, regarding a new selection of Java EE brand, we have to think outside of the box, excuse me, the white chalk circle. It is going to really hard to find this new brand selection and for the Eclipse Foundation to agree to it. Whatever name we chose has to be inspired and be relevant for next ten to twenty years going forward, and we certainly have to happy to have that brand selection name on our CV representing us to the rest of the world.
Transcribed for the 23 November 2017