Recently, I was having a conversation with a customer who heard a competitor refer to Zift as the “gorilla in the marketplace.”

My first reaction was to go on the offensive. Or is it defensive? Either way, I wanted to argue the point. After all, Zift is my baby. And that’s calling my baby a beast. But as I started thinking about it, I became fixated on the phrase itself. And gorillas. How did these magnificent (and endangered) creatures get associated with being not so magnificent in business? I realize that the intention is to malign Zift (or any other “gorilla” company) as a 500-pound brute beast that can’t possibly provide the same manner of care for its customers as so-called “boutique” offerings in the market. Clearly, they don’t know much about Zift – or gorillas.

Gorillas are strong, but they are also built to maintain balance and support their size. With tens of thousands of active partner users around the globe, we have the largest partner community and offer the most comprehensive Channel Marketing Automation (CMA) platform available today. I’ll take this in the strength column. The suppliers we work with are also among the largest channel marketing organizations in the world.

It’s a fact that our partners and suppliers are often not looking for a boutique approach to CMA. They require more sophistication and power in their channel marketing technology, not to mention deeper industry expertise. But that doesn’t mean we back away from providing the personal service required to deliver success for our clients. We’ve earned a reputation for being an incredibly powerful platform while preserving a personal touch with our customers in terms of support, education and guidance, regardless of the size of their business or partner community. Far from inhibiting us, the size and strength we’ve worked hard to achieve empowers the highest levels of care for our customers. Our recent acquisitions and steady growth are indeed helping us provide unparalleled Through Partner Marketing Automation (TPMA) capabilities, fueling innovation with a deeper research and development team, and fostering lower costs and faster time to value. However, one of the most exciting aspects of our continued growth trajectory is our ability to provide even more services and support to our customers. Few can meet the standards set by our enhanced global support team or tailored Managed, Professional and Concierge Services.

Gorillas are also extremely protective of their families (where a lot of their tough rep comes from), and I am proud to have Zift follow this example by stepping above and beyond to support the communities in which we work. To formalize this commitment, Zift has recently joined the Pledge 1%, a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business. Zift is pledging 1% of its equity, employee time and product to charitable pursuits. We’ll also be launching our own Pledge 1% in the Raleigh-Durham area to encourage other local NC-based companies to take the pledge themselves. This is an initiative where you better believe I will continue to beat my chest.

Back in 2006 when we created this company, the goal was to make channel marketing easier and more effective for organizations of all sizes. If ten years later, we are being referred to as the “big guy” in the space, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. We take our role as being one that many smaller organizations aspire to be a compliment and privilege.

So if someone thinks we’re a gorilla, I’m fine with it. After all, I think most people would be happy to have a gorilla backing them up.