As part of its parent company’s global launch of a new branding architecture, storage and networking distributor GE Access has changed its name to Access Distribution, a General Electric company.

The branding effort, which is scheduled to be completed by January, affects approximately 200

divisions of GE Corp. Eleven business units within the company will keep the GE monogram in front of their names. These include GE Commercial Finance, which Access Distribution falls under, GE Healthcare, GE Infrastructure and GE Advanced Materials. The GE logo will also appear next to the company’s slogan, “”Imagination at work.””

Mark Kulaga, director of corporate marketing and communications at Access Distribution, said the name change dates back to a year ago when GE decided to “”simplify”” the 128-year-old firm that was founded by inventor Thomas Alva Edison to customers.

“”The previous 20 years have been building GE from a conglomeration of companies and acquisitions,”” said Kulaga. “”Now we’re trying to take all of those companies, acquisitions and business divisions and simplify GE to the market.””

Kulaga added Access Distribution had made recommendations through its executive management that were passed on to GE Commercial Finance, where the final decision was made and handed down to the distributor.

Last week’s announcement was the last phase of a month-long rollout that started with internal stakeholder meetings in the first week followed by an internal branding campaign in the second week. Departments within Access including shipping, receiving, sales, product marketing and human resources were given a template letter to distribute to their constituents such as vendors and customers, notifying them of the change.

Aside from the 600 Access Distribution employees worldwide having to change their voice mails and e-mail extensions, Kulaga said it’s pretty much business as usual.

Britt Hilton, director of sales at Myra Systems Corp., a Vancouver, B.C.-based Sun Microsystems iForce partner, agreed.

“”The only difference is the e-mail addresses and they answer the phone differently,”” he said, noting the last time the company changed its name it was a bigger deal for some partners. “”There were concerns among some people whether they wanted to continue their relationship with GE.””

Access Graphics, formerly a Unix specialist and Sun distributor, was acquired by GE in 1998 to become GE Capital IT Distribution Group, which changed its name to GE Access in 2000.

“”It certainly doesn’t cause any confusion in the marketplace as to what we do or who we are,”” Kulaga said. “”We’re able to keep the Access name.””

Kulaga added that keeping brand name is key to the company’s past and future.

“”It gives us brand equity and recognition for the last 15, 20 years and also allows us to take the word ‘access’ and move it forward with branding, messaging and value propositions around it. You always want to keep the value of the old brand and move forward with the new.””

Kulaga is already looking forward to the possibilities that the new name presents.

“”It allows us to take some messages around what we do. We provide access to technologies, products and solutions. We distribute them through our reseller network into the end user.

“”I get a twinkle in my eye because I think there’s some really creative things we could do with the name moving forward. It’s kind of complimentary and contradictory.””

Kulaga added that Access Distribution has a new font called GE Inspira that will be used in PowerPoint presentations and other marketing materials in the coming months. GE is also in the process of changing the tone of its ads to a more playful one. A new colour palette of 14 colours will appear in upcoming ads.

In other news, Access Distribution announced the latest addition to its Online Solution Selling Resource Library, which launched in January and is available exclusively to Access Distribution resellers. Called Financial Services Module, it helps resellers sell financial services to their customers by explaining financial benefits to their customers.

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