Avocet branding - What do you think?

Martin Kotulla (SoftMaker) martin-k at softmaker.de
Sun Mar 29 12:45:25 UTC 2015

Frankly, I don't like much the idea of using bird names:

1. Most people outside the English-speaking countries have no idea what 
an avocet or bunting is. They will not even recognize the terms as bird 

2. How do you want to make people understand that a bunting is 
better/newer than an avocet? You either need to have multiple releases 
in succession for people to recognize that it is a numbering/naming 
system. Or you need to explain this system to our users, again and again.

3. A thunderbird is a (mythological) bird. Explain to the users what 
role a second (real) species plays.

4. You wrote that you would use customized artwork to announce a 
release, but Thunderbird in general would use the conventional branding. 
>From a branding/marketing viewpoint, this is not good. Create artwork 
and stay with it. The most hardcore branding advocates will even dictate 
the background color the artwork is placed on.

Imagine we get some good online reviews for TB 38 with a black avocet. 
These reviews stay up for years, and they will often show the artwork. 
When people go to download TB, they will not see this artwork anymore 
but only the "conventional" one, or even the next bird artwork. They 
will be confused.

5. Are you ready to run worldwide trademark searches for "avocet", 
"bunting" and every bird name that we will use from now on? Whenever 
some company in god-knows-what-country claims a trademark violation, we 
can fight for the brand "Thunderbird" because it's been in use by 
Mozilla for years worldwide. But avocets and buntings?

I picked an arbitrary country (Australia) and ran a trademark search for 
avocet. It is in fact registered in Australia for "Computer software in 
the field of oil and gas exploration and production". For me, that's too 
close for comfort. We can probably defend our use, but do we have the 
money for that? And that was just the first country I tried.


What I definitely agree with is the idea of decoupling Gecko version 
numbers from Thunderbird version numbers. There is no reason why a 
component (admittedly a major one) should control the version number of 
the software that uses it.

Numbers are still the best way to convey the idea of "new release" to 
the users. If they see "Application 6.0" is out and they are still at 
3.0, they will understand they are hopelessly outdated. Same with 
"Application 2016" when they are still using "Application 2011".

Unfortunately we can't go back from version 38 to version 9.0 or 10.00. 
You can never decrease a version number without major confusion. My 
suggestion would be to switch to years: Thunderbird 2015, Thunderbird 
2016 etc. In years where there are two major releases, they would be 
2017.1 and 2017.2 (or Spring 2017 and Fall 2017. Old die-hard Clipper 
users will love that...)

The artwork in your post is beautiful, though.

Martin Kotulla
SoftMaker Software GmbH

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