Did Huffington Post Really Rebrand?

 

The Huffington Post recently announced that it had “rebranded” itself as HuffPost, to signify the exit of its founder Arianna Huffington and accept how people generally refer to it.

Recall that FedEx relabled itself, in 2000, from Federal Express, to reflect the appellation that customers and investors had assigned it.
 
Companies frequently adopt new names — out of desperation, after mergers, to look cool and hep, to abbreviate, and for simplicity. But, is this practice tantamount to rebranding?

Typically, it is not. Relabeling, per se, is not rebranding. A label is not a brand.

Wow. Most people think it is.

It is imperative that one understand branding before fathoming rebranding.
 
Misinformed

Branding is like sex: most people learn it on the street and, consequently, are misinformed! Worse, the desire to become informed is surprisingly rare.
 

 
Stef Kight wrote this piece on Axios: “Why the Media Is [sic] Obsessed with Rebranding.” After her title appear the logos of HuffPost, Daily Beast, BuzzFeed, and The Washington Post.

Following the logos is this line: “Over the past few months several media companies have come out with new slogans, logos, or names.”

Newsflash: This sentence encapsulates the common misconception about branding — that it entails names, slogans, and logos. That is why so many companies get it wrong.

The brand is a value proposition; it reflects an emotional connection with your audience. It sets the purpose and direction of your company and is the ultimate bottom line.

Anyone can create a slogan and a logo. Hillary Clinton used several in her campaign, to no avail. BuzzFeed’s new tagline is “Reporting to You.” Huh? Embarrassing.

The Washington Post just created a new tagline: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Seriously? This is the same publication that secretly colluded with Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign and still bashes Donald Trump, with extreme bias, on a daily basis.

When Donald Trump announced his entry into the presidential race, The Huffington Post announced that it would place all news about him in its entertainment section.
 
Out of Touch

Clearly, like WashPo, like The New York Times, like CNN, like MSNBC, HuffPost is biased, appealing to a left-of-center, Trump-hating audience. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it is honest about that and doesn’t pretend to be objective. But, HuffPost insists that its formally abbreviated moniker allows it to “speak to a broader audience.” Nonsense.

The key to HuffPost speaking to a wider audience is to actually speak to a wider audience, by changing its attitude, its actions, its presentation. I doubt this will happen.

Morning Consult just published a media poll: 51 percent of Americans said the national political media “is [sic] out of touch with everyday Americans,” compared with 28 percent who said it [sic] “understands the issues everyday Americans are facing.”

Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty of Politico just published an excellent piece on the alarming systemic liberal bias in the media — explaining why Americans don’t trust what they read.

There is no way that changing names, slogans, and logos will remedy this lack of trust. Only objective, accurate, professional journalism, now almost nonexistent, can do that.

Remember: Names, slogans (taglines), and logos can represent brands but never constitute them. Ignore this axiom at your peril.
 
Parting Advice to CEOs

By becoming HuffPost, The Huffington Post did not rebrand. At best, this relabeling is merely a distinction without a difference.

The only way to brand or rebrand your company is to know your constituents, develop an emotional connection with them (regardless of your industry), communicate effectively and memorably to them in their language, and deliver the value they demand and expect.

Otherwise, anything else you do is an amateurish waste of time, money, and ink.

 

About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of two books:
Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line and
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.

 

© 2017 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.

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