Branding a trade publication: most do a poor job

BtoB’s Daily News Alert brought us this bulletin today:

Hanley Wood changes name of ‘Green Products and Technology’ to ‘EcoHome’
Washington, D.C.—Hanley Wood, a b-to-b media company that covers the housing and construction markets, has changed the name of its recently launched Green Products and Technology to EcoHome. The new name debuts with the May issue, the second of four planned for 2008….

The name change aligns the magazine more closely with Hanley Wood’s annual EcoHome Expo and Conference and EcoHome Web site, said Frank Anton, CEO of Hanley Wood.

That got me thinking about names for publications. In general, trade publications do an unimaginative job of naming. They usually go for a descriptive name. Yawn.

It appears that Green Products and Technology would have been OK with Hanley Wood except for the apparent need to align with the EcoHome Expo and Website.

The publication industry is pretty hide-bound. There’s little differentiation in the manner publications are marketed to readers and to advertisers. I’ve been in on many a media presentation over the years – I mean like forty or more years – and they still sound the same. They still quote readership and circulation numbers. They still conduct and present preference studies. They still price competitively by CPM.

This applies even to the newer publication introduced in the Internet Age – Fast Company, Red Herring, Industry Standard – even though each of them have better understood branding. This is most ardently applied through content and an independent editorial stance. Most BtoB publications just won’t upset advertisers in any way.

Anyway, those are the thoughts sparked by the article. As for EcoHome as a name for a magazine, an expo or a website, well, lets just say they could have done better. But it’s certainly better than a utilitarian descriptive like Green Products and Technology.

Martin Jelsema

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