The other day I blogged about creating a shared "meta" brand we could all use to amplify our combined marketing weight. Here are a few clarifications and comments based on reading feedback here and elsewhere.
It's Not About Logos
Some people thought I was talking about logos. Logos are certainly a usual (though not inviolable) part of branding, but they aren't the totality of successful branding. As such, the idea is really not about logos, though some logo work may happen. For instance, integrating the downstream logo (if that's how they do things) into a wallpaper or elsewhere may occur. That would be a way to satisfy and align with the distributor's practices, but it's not what creates or destroys the shared brand image.
What does build up that shared brand image is consistency in visual, audio and textual messages embedded throughout the product and support materials.
It's Not About KDE's Brand
This is not an attempt to replace $BRAND with the KDE brand, because it's not about KDE's brand (exclusively, anyways). It's about a shared brand in the client-side F/OSS consumer market that can be employed wherever KDE is used.
It's an attempt to build a brand together with the KDE project as a participant along with those who package KDE. It just so happens that we not only create some great artwork (though certainly not all of it; there is great artwork elsewhere too), we are a natural and neutral place to coordinate this.
I don't think any of the distributions could make an honest case for a common brand; it would be too suspect by other distributors, or would be shouted down by them out of competitive concern. It's even been tried before.
When I spoke about a common logo for the application launcher, I was specifically thinking about something that isn't the KDE logo which people could all ship in their packages. I don't know what such a thing could be, and it's definitely a longer term task and I'm not sure it's possible to unify that. It is the probably most difficult point to come to an agreement on, and it probably wouldn't be a K inside of a gear, though, judging by what gets shipped right now.
Distributors Matter Here, Other F/OSS Projects Less So
I am reaching out to distributors of KDE because they make the final decisions as to what hits the user base in most cases. They therefore have the biggest impact here of all the actors. They also have a relationship with KDE already and a vested interested in all of our success.
Harmonizing branding with other F/OSS projects aimed at the desktop is probably a little out of reach right now, and it still wouldn't create immediate change what the end user sees as the distributors make that set of decisions. If there was more harmony here, it may make it easier for distributors to support the effort, but it's the harder achievement.
We can always look beyond distributors later, of course. For now I'm just looking for what's directly in reach, and it's really up to the people behind those other projects to decide whether they care about this kind of thing themselves.
Branding is Unnecessary, Maybe Even Evil
For those who say that: you are right .... for you. For you it isn't necessary. For you it may indeed even be "evil", or at least unwanted. However, I'm not doing this for you, or even for me, directly.
I'm doing it for the people who actually do "need" it in order to make a decision to use F/OSS. It happens that the overwhelming majority of people in this world fall into that category, and I think that if working on branding and marketing helps bring software Freedom to those individuals then it's worthwhile.
You can ignore the branding and marketing, and I'll be sure to return the favor when working on it. However, it's unfair to the rest of humanity who would benefit from such a thing to deny marketing efforts just because you don't personally need it.
Linux Is Awesome Enough
Yes, Linux is awesome enough for Linux but it's a wide, wide brand with virtually no acceptance or meaningful recognition in the consumer market. While it's done well on the server side and there are balkanizing brands like Google's Android, there is not really an identifiable "client side Linux" brand position. The F/OSS desktop also extends a fair ways beyond Linux these days. For all of these reasons, we can't afford to just ride the marketing tailcoats of Linux as a brand name alone. We can certainly work with it, but we need more than it alone.
It's All Dooooomed Because Nobody Will Take You Up On It
That's perfectly possible. I've already been contacted by some distributors, however, so we'll see how far it gets. But maybe when it all shakes out it just won't work as proposed.
Failure is a risk of trying, but the risk of failure should not prevent one from trying.
I consider this a "fair chance" try that we all deserve. If it does fail, there are other possibilities, though they are probably a lot less efficient, useful and friendly.