A rebranding to remember

The New York Times recently ran a feature piece called “In Colorado, a Rebranding of Pot Inc.” The piece is about the co-founders of Cannabrand — an advertising agency aimed at marketing marijuana. Their strategy? Showing the world that “normal, professional, successful people consume cannabis.”

The article caught my attention for two reasons. One: the idea is brilliant. As the piece points out, what grown adult wants to walk into a shop with bars on the windows and salespeople in sweatshirts to ask for a quarter of Alaskan Thunderfuck (which, according to hightimes.com, “will thunderclap your senses with its fruity badassery.”)? Offering a high-end option to achieve a similar result has been a successful business plan in many industries, why not pot?

Additionally, this article stood out because it is yet another in a long line of media pieces about rebranding, leading me to wonder if it’s a good idea for Imprint.

Over the past six months, I have read an article about the Republican Party rebranding to attract a more “current” audience, one about a small business called Isis wanting to rebrand (for obvious reasons), and a Metro News article about Rogers using their new NHL deal to rebrand the company into “a slick and forward-thinking purveyor of the most coveted content in the country” in order to repair its relationship with customers (I’m glad Rogers at least acknowledges it has a problem with customer satisfaction).

These are just three specific articles that come to mind, but it seems that over the past couple years many major corporations have tried their hand at a rebrand, but what does rebranding really mean?

In many corporate cases, it seems as though a change in colour scheme or logo is the extent of the so-called rebrand, but does changing a logo really change a customer’s perception of the company? I think not.

This misconception seems to be a common one, for when I Google “successful rebranding” I get list after list of then-and-now style logo redesigns mistakenly labeled a rebrand.

Whether it’s caused by a merger, bad publicity, or old age, rebranding should be a wholesale change starting at the heart of a company. The goal can be anything: become known as an environmentally friendly company; focusing in on a product or service to become known as the best in that field; or updating practices, products, design, and images to become known as more current.

Imprint has been around for nearly 40 years and I have been the editor-in-chief for almost two. In my two years there have been some improvements (if I do say so myself), but nothing major. And in the era of folding newspapers (folding as in going out of business) it is important to stay current and make big changes.

To do this, we need to do more than just update our logo. We need to offer an up-to-date product, be the best we can be at offering that product, and move forward from there.

I don’t know how much time I have left at Imprint, but the time I have left will be dedicated to this idea.

Lastly, some of you may have noticed I changed the name of my column. Some might say I “rebranded” it. And that might be where I got the idea for this column in the first place. The Greater Fool was fun while it lasted. When I started it I was still an eager journalist thinking the best was yet to come for my journalism career. Maybe it still is, but I don’t believe it quite so strongly anymore.

Imprint might not be a perfect representation of the state of newspapers right now, but being its editor-in-chief has provided me insight into the business of newsprint and the inner workings of a 17th century product trying to remain in a 21st century world. It’s no cakewalk.

Since starting The Greater Fool, hundreds of newspapers have shut down, thousands of newspaper employees have lost their jobs, and “newspaper reporter” has been ranked the worst and second worst career in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

So it’s time to introduce The Jaded Journo. A column written by a person who still believes the career of newspaper reporter is an honorable one to pursue but knows that it will be incredibly difficult for any bright-eyed, bushy-tailed recent grad to do. I am the person who now feels a maternal worry for every single Imprint volunteer who walks in the door and says “I want to be a journalist.”

I am simultaneously pessimistic and optimistic about the future of journalism.

I am the jaded journo.


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