Microsoft Cloud Marketing "ROB"

Stewards of best practices, process, and outcomes discipline


Microsoft Cloud Marketing is growing at a record-setting pace and needed a uniform way to manage, create, evaluate, and approve naming across the portfolio. We knew from analysts and customers that a descriptive and self-evident portfolio aids wayfinding and bolsters customers’ ability to find what they need – leaving only a few “lighthouse” names that enhance or extend the overall value proposition of our master brand or family brands.

Microsoft turned to Northbound first to create a disciplined process and set of best practice guidelines that would centralize naming management. Next, as naming within Cloud Marketing continued to grow in volume, Northbound was brought in to help manage the process, including stewarding and educating PMMs, thereby driving excellent outcomes.


Document best practices and create a streamlined process for name generation within a portfolio that must work together to engage customers and drive customer understanding.


  • Overall naming process and guidelines
  • Naming templates for creating, submitting, and managing the process
  • Day-to-day project management and consultation
  • Portfolio audits

Naming as a discipline, and a first step to customer clarity

Microsoft Cloud Marketing was rapidly growing as a critical part of Microsoft. This translated to an increase in the volume of naming from one or two per quarter, to half a dozen or more per month for each product division.

To maintain excellence and a constant drive toward customer understanding and clarity, Microsoft Cloud Marketing sought to create a streamlined way for the team to be guided in the naming process—from understanding and documentation on best practices to stewarding the naming process, culminating in a consistent way to submit names, with all the right context, for approval.


Excellence in partnership

Northbound’s support for Microsoft Cloud Marketing occurred in stages, as new needs emerged. In 2012, we worked to document a naming process and create simple guidelines for how teams should approach naming. In 2013, we began facilitating one-off naming with teams whose names fell outside the standard feature naming. In 2015, we reassessed and revised the guidelines to go more in-depth, revamped and simplified the naming template, plus audited the Azure portfolio to understand where the opportunities were for greater consistency, clarity, and “lighthouse” naming. In 2016, we began managing and stewarding PMMs in the process of readying names and their naming templates for submission to council and executives. In 2017, we adjusted cadence to accommodate an increase in naming activity around company events, such as Ignite and Build.

For the last two years, we have honed a streamlined, more efficient system for moving what is now dozens of names each month. We accomplish this through partnership with PMMs, tools that enable team collaboration on project management while ensuring no detail is lost, and a deep understanding of both the naming guidelines and the Cloud Marketing portfolio.
Throughout the past seven years, we have regularly led naming architecture, strategy, and creative projects that required more guidance or independent creative than could be achieved in the regular “ROB” process.


An inspired partnership

As a result of our efforts to codify the naming process and crystalize best practices, naming is now a beacon for better brand strategy throughout the Cloud Marketing organization.

Over the years, we have continually innovated new processes and practices to drive excellence. And we have done it through a concerted effort toward being service-minded. Success, in fact, depends completely on our ability to win the trust and partnership of our PMM counterparts. It’s that partnership that helps our Cloud Marketing brand clients elevate their line-of-sight and be seen as strategic leaders within their organizations. As our partnership has deepened, we have identified and then executed other innovative ways to tackle naming challenges, both in terms of managing the volume and in driving excellent work.

We’re proud of the work, the process, the best practices, and the names we’ve created with Cloud Marketing. Most of all, we’re proud of the partnership that’s enabled a higher level of strategic naming across the organization, driving customer clarity and success.



  • Hundreds of names each year that drive customer clarity
  • A process and set of best practices that are well-understood and embraced throughout the business unit
  • A committed partnership that helps elevate brand and Cloud Marketing leaders for excellent outcomes
“Northbound’s team is truly outstanding for naming and brand strategy. I was impressed with their creativity, speed, and agility to get up to speed on technically-complex products and services.”
Ada Agrait
General Manager
Cloud Marketing

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