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What’s in a name? A brand, a magazine, or a taboo…

August 21, 2009

Meredith Corp., publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal and Family Circle among other magazines, reintroduced itself to the media world last week via an ad campaign in the trade press by stating that “Today’s Meredith is designed for today’s media, combining all the channels with the marketing expertise you need to connect with consumers at the speed of life.”
LadiesHomeJournal1LadiesHomeJournal2

What caught my attention is that the word magazine appeared only once in the new vocabulary of the company’s ad campaign. Magazines, as we knew them, are now referred to as “national media brands.” One of those “national media brands” is Ladies’ Home Journal. Well, I guess the magazine is also attempting to reintroduce itself. The September issue of the magazine is testing what seems to be a new name, or a new brand, or dare I say a new “national media brand.” LHJ, in bold blue color, replaces the Ladies’ Home Journal name on the cover. The test issue also reverses all the color from the regular issue. What’s blue in Ladies’ Home Journal is brown in LHJ and vice versa.

Now, the folks working at Ladies’ Home Journal may fondly refer to the magazine as LHJ, but do they really think the readers outside the magazine’s offices refer to the magazine as LHJ? If we are truly in the process of reinventing ourselves and reintroducing ourselves, should we make it easier for the readers to find our brand or should we make it harder? I hope that this test is not a sign of what “reintroducing Meredith” is going to be. Ladies’ Home Journal is a much bigger brand in the women’s magazine field to be reintroduced as LHJ… and so are the remaining magazines published by Meredith.

I hope that the word “magazine” is not going to be a “taboo” in the vocabulary of the “Reintroduced Meredith” and the same is true for Ladies’ Home Journal. There is a big difference between a “brand experience” and a “magazine experience.” Please do keep the “magazine experience” well and alive and the “brand experience” will follow.

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9 comments

  1. Good point! Products do that cr*p all the time. They think their readers are such hardcore fans they too refer to as the acronym or a shortened version. You really should only do this when you think the name is a hinderence (i.e Kentucky Fried Chicken going to KFC)


  2. I find it even more interesting that as statistics reveal that women are responsible for 85% of all brand purchases and most bands are trying to reinvent themselves to be more appealing to women that Ladies Home Journal would dilute if not extinguish their true star power – Ladies.

    she-conomy.com


  3. Leave acronyms to the the banks and insurance companies. LHJ doesn’t mean anything, and I suspect it won’t be long for the magazine to stop meaning something to its readers if this is the road they choose to pursue. If the word “Journal” is so taboo, then perhaps they should have gone with Ladies’ Home in large type with Journal tucked in unassumingly underneath. The color scheme of the cutlines on the “new” cover are light and refreshing compared to the “old” cover, but I suspect that was done on purpose (fab for new, drab for old). Pity that the magazine industry can be its own worse enemy.


  4. LHJ? FHM? (And yes, those make me think of KFC!) What a terrible decision on the part of Meredith! Why don’t they just go ahead and kill it off now rather than suffer death by a dozen focus groups …


  5. First off, I recognize how difficult these times are for magazine publishers, and it is possible that the LHJ strategy will achieve the desired results Meredith expects.

    Ladies Home Journal was started about 125 years ago. Is it possible that a name change is needed to attract the future generation of readers? Is rebranding their magazine to LHJ actually going to increase their customer base? Do they think more people will type LHJ.com into their browser? Or does this hipper name attract a new generation of readers but alienate older customers?

    To me, this seems like another classic case of a magazine potentially forgetting its DNA. @Angela, the FHM parallel is right on. Does Meredith want to compete with Good Housekeeping or Cosmo?

    I believe focus should be placed on creating and marketing a more robust set of unique articles for their target demographic. Rebranding a magazine always risks losing existing customers in hopes of achieving new ones. This is a very aggressive strategy given the times.


  6. I’m inclined to think that Meredith would not have gone to LHJ without knowing that most of their current readers either identify with the magazine that way or are aware of what it means. At the same time, this is a title that has lost 1 million copies in circ in the last decade so at some point you have to make changes – hopefully they work. Either they will work, or if they don’t then you have to look seriously and deeply and ask yourself if the title’s time has come and gone. It’s sad, but it happens.

    I worked with this title back when the unlamented Family Media company owned it and there was a lot of concern about the magazine was losing it’s footing back then. And that was a very long time ago.

    On the other hand, all this “business speak”, “national media brands” is corporate MBA barf inducing nonsense. But it’s not going to go away. The accountants took over years ago and they’re not going away. You can either join them, or beat them at their own game. I choose the latter.


  7. LHJ strikes me as a trade magazine title or something. But as someone else pointed out, I’m sure Meredith focus group-tested this idea, etc. Nonetheless, with newsstand sales being such an important part of the women’s magazine sales, this strikes me as a bad idea. The content in LHJ is remarkably lame and low-brow; to draw new readers, they’d do better concentrating on better content.


  8. I always enjoy finding a “good” blog. Thanx and I’m going to add you to my RSS feed.


  9. [...] magazine publishers on your blog recently, you wrote that “There is a big difference between a ‘brand experience’ and a [...]



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