Microsoft Azure Stack

A bridge to the cloud

Azure Stack_Main

Microsoft was losing out to AWS in cloud adoption. To compete and gain share in the cloud, Microsoft created a Windows-based offering that would mirror the Azure architecture while allowing customers to use their on-premises data centers. The benefit of this approach was that the risks of cloud migration would be reduced and customers would be free to migrate to the cloud on their own terms. Technically, it was a Windows offering. However, the opportunity for Microsoft was in getting on-premises customers to embrace a hybrid cloud model.

Microsoft looked to Northbound to help determine how this offering should be branded and named.


Create a brand strategy and name for an offering that has the potential to speed customer adoption of and migration to the cloud.


  • Naming strategy
  • Naming creative
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A strategy that points to the future, and a name that signals continuity

If it is Windows, should we call it Windows? If the cloud is seen as risky, does that make the Azure brand risky? And how do we use this launch to gain traction in hybrid cloud and help boost Azure migration and use?

Northbound conducted a kick-off working session with the product marketing team to understand the business strategy, the product attributes, customer benefits, and the ultimate goals of this offering for Microsoft. Northbound then crafted a non-traditional naming process, designed to gain alignment across business units, in which we shared dozens of names against a variety of strategic paths in an effort to illuminate the best brand and name strategy. Through this process, we were able to align the teams around a descriptive yet provocative naming strategy that leveraged the momentum of the Azure brand, while reassuring customers of the continuity and control they would have. While super splashy, suggestive names were intriguing, they would not thread the needle with customers. And while purely descriptive names fit the naming guidelines, we needed something that positioned this offering for the future, not just the present.

The result was Microsoft Azure Stack.

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  • Wide adoption by the industry, not just Microsoft insiders
  • Instant customer and partner understanding of the value proposition
“The Northbound team knew how to handle stepping into a gray situation and being a voice of strategic excellence. The choice to brand the offering Azure, at the time, was not obvious. They helped align the team around the best path forward, with a name that perfectly landed the value proposition with clarity and a creative spin.”
Fabio Soleibe
Microsoft Product Marketing

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