Reed Elsevier reverts to Cahners brand in U.S.

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After months of debate, the company known as Reed Elsevier Business Information, formerly Cahners Publishing Co. until last June, will change its name March 2--to Cahners Business Information.

The trek back to the 52-year-old brand equity of the Cahners name included several unforeseen twists since the moniker Reed Elsevier Business Information first was proposed.

At that time, the idea of establishing the Reed Elsevier name in the U.S. was uppermost in the minds of management. So was the idea of giving a new identity to a company that was about to absorb the Chilton Business Group to indicate the merging of two cultures.


But in October, parent company Reed Elsevier announced it would merge with Wolters Kluwer NV, a deal that wraps up in March.

"Reed Elsevier Business Information--a really fun, catchy name to begin with--just did not seem as exciting when you need to work in the Wolters Kluwer name," said Bruce Barnet, company president-CEO.

The company publishes more than 120 titles focusing on 14 major business sectors. Yearly revenues exceed $1 billion, Mr. Barnet said.


Management thought a name reflecting the new size and direction of the company was needed. More than 2,000 names were researched that would lend a new identity, much like K-III Communications recently did by renaming itself Primedia.

"What we finally decided was to keep it simple," Mr. Barnet said. "Cahners is a name that is well-known and respected. We will switch from publishing to business information to reflect the company now has a wider scope. But to invent a new name and establish it" would cost millions of dollars, he said.

With the new name in place, Cahners Business Information will move forward with a dual corporate branding strategy.

"What is sacrosanct out in the market is the brand name of the individual properties. But the second name of the parent company can also be established," said Mr. Barnet. "If you study branding, you discover that those who have done this well, like 3M, have had the most market-oriented brands and the umbrella brand of the parent."

Brian Kardon, senior VP-marketing, said the dual branding strategy "will really help us launch new products. The company Cahners has got a long, successful track record. By having an umbrella brand, it will also help us with cross-selling opportunities because advertisers will see us as a family of products."


Much like Nabisco Biscuit Co. places its red triangle in the corner of all packaging, Cahners is developing a new logo that will be on the covers of all of its titles, Mr. Kardon said.

An in-house-created corporate branding campaign will run in its publications and other selected print media, beginning in April or May.

Copyright February 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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