My dad's tagline for Ad Age was "The national newspaper of marketing." Then we switched to "The international newspaper of marketing." Since 2007, we've had nothing to describe who we are and what we do.
Maybe we felt it wasn't necessary to explain ourselves. After all, we've been around for 83 years. The New York Times, which has been publishing a lot longer than we have, is "All the news that's fit to print" (which doesn't say much for its digital offerings, now driving its circulation).
So why do we need a new tagline now? And can one line adequately describe who we are, in print and online?
Well, it's actually more than just a tagline. We are using it is a guiding principle as we add and develop new products to the growing Ad Age portfolio.
Elena Balint, director of brand marketing for Ad Age, who came to us after years at American Express, undertook a brand-identity project for our publication with the help of Possible Worldwide, our agency partner on this project.
Among our objectives, Elena explained, were to clearly reinforce Ad Age's core value and relevance to the industry and harness the tension between heritage and innovation—a tough task but maybe made easier by our switch to what we call our "new tabloid" format.
Here's how our objectives translated into our newly developed brand manifesto: "With over 80 years of battle-tested expertise, you might think that Ad Age has seen it all. Well, we haven't. And we never will. You see, it's not about what has happened. It's about using the knowledge of what we've seen to help you see what's coming."
For Elena, it was best to imagine Ad Age as if we didn't have a print publication "at all" she said. "We are so associated with print that in order to think about the brand, we had to concentrate on our new generation of products and services. We had to change the mind-set from "I read Ad Age' to "I need Ad Age.'"
Elena makes it clear that what other publications do or don't do didn't drive our thinking. "We are strategically using a tag to communicate what we already do. Ad Age is the heartbeat of the community, and we are dedicated to its success, especially in the midst of constant change. The tag sets the tone for this. And then our editorial, products and services deliver on it."
Allison Arden, Ad Age publisher, made clear that our new tagline works for both the editorial and marketing sides of our business.
On the marketing side, she explained, we set out on the brand-identity project to guide us as we put new and existing products into the marketplace and also to "clearly articulate our brand promise to our customers and partners."
Allison believes the message is the same for all our constituencies: We are always keeping our audience informed and preparing it for what's on the horizon.
Abbey Klaassen, Ad Age editor, thinks the "what's news" part of our new slogan is pretty self-explanatory, "but it's interesting to think about how "what's next' has meant different things at various stages of Ad Age's life—the emergence of TV as an ad medium in the middle of the last century, our coverage of cable several decades later, followed by the internet and now mobile and data."
"What's news to what's next," Abbey says "succinctly captures what we aim to do editorially at Ad Age. The tagline is our heritage, we've just never put it into words. But now that we have, it serves as a signal—internally and externally—of our editorial ambitions today and in the future."