New York – Gerson Lehrman Group Inc. (GLG), the leading expert network provider, has quietly launched a new rebranding strategy. GLG has reformed itself into two new brands: GLG Research, which encompasses its current expert network offerings, and G+, a new Twitter-style social networking site.
The new branding appeared stealthily without any press releases (at least, not yet). The main website, www.glgroup.com, now takes you to the home page of GLG Research. GLG Research houses the bulk of GLG’s business, which connects clients with experts through telephone consultations, meetings, surveys and reports. The website has been redesigned, but other than the new name, the content looks similar to the previous home page. Council members (experts) are highlighted, while events and analyses are listed.
The new brand, G+, is buried in small type at the bottom of the GLG Research page. G+ is a free website which highlights real-time commentary on a range of topics. Like Twitter, you can follow experts and/or topics. Unlike Twitter, the postings are tagged and content is better organized. Also unlike Twitter, G+ draws on GLG’s community of experts, so there is limited spam. As a result, searches are more productive on G+ than Twitter.
Because the product is still new, most of the postings are from GLG insiders: research managers, engineers and other employees. A search on “Gerson” revealed 138 GLG employees contributing to the site.
The business rationale for G+ seems to be to drive traffic to its core business. G+ showcases experts and events that can be paid for through GLG Research. We suspect that GLG has more social media capabilities planned for G+. This is an excerpt from a current job posting: “Familiarity with various commercial and open source backend systems around Video streaming, ecommerce platform and/or search and text processing tools and/or infrastructure related technologies is helpful.”
G+ also signals how GLG wants ultimately to be viewed: as a social media service not as an expert network. If G+ gets traction, GLG can say it is the professional version of Twitter, just as LinkedIn is positioned vs. Facebook. More pointedly, IPO reception will be warmer for a social media company than for an expert network.
The timing of the rebranding suggests that one motivation for GLG is to reposition itself in the wake of the insider trading investigations, although GLG itself has not been implicated in any way in the investigations. However, it is likely that the rebranding exercise began before last October, when the insider trading investigations began to first make headlines. Our guess is that the rebranding was in the works before the investigations made news, and the low profile of the rebranding reflects a desire to distance its timing from the investigations.