Time Warner, NY1 & Brand Management

March 21 2013

In my frequent talks about branding, and in speaking with my clients, I always start out by saying that your logo is not your brand. Your logo is an expression of your brand, providing a means to connect the consumer to your company or product. It is a symbolic expression of your brand, but it doesn't define it . It's a tool, one amongst many, that help the consumer to identify, connect and viscerally relate to who you are.

In its twenty-year existence, NY1, the all-news channel dedicated to New York City and the greater metropolitan area, has become an institution. We turned to it for our Hurricane Sandy coverage and to watch Mayor Bloomberg's testy news conferences, Neil Rosen's take on the movies, and Shelley Goldberg with her ageless blonde pageboy to tell us where to take our kids this weekend. And who doesn't love to watch key news anchor Pat Kiernan read the newspaper headlines to us every weekday morning? It's our morning tea, coffee, and weather person all rolled into one.

Last week, in an effort to make viewers aware of their ownership and the channel's exclusivity to TWC subscribers, Time Warner announced that they would be rebranding NY1, changing the name to TWC News and getting rid of the simple, yet iconic, blocky blue logo. The New York internet media reacted immediately, and not very happily. Gawker posted an article titled "NY1 to be Rebranded as 'TWC News' Because We Can't Have Nice Things." But anchor Pat Kiernan went on air and tried to assure viewers that nothing will change, saying  that the "logo is less important than the content."

In some ways, he is right, but not entirely so. What he was trying to say is that the anchors and content of the channel will stay the same, no matter what the logo looks like. At the same time, he was saying that there is going to be a brand disconnect between the station, its history, how it is known and loved by its audiences, and the new name and logo. He was asking you to stay put and not abandon NY1 no matter what happens at the corporate level. What he was really addressing was the issue of brand mismanagement, and a lack of sensitivity at the corporate level.

Time Warner might want to consider a name like TWC/NY1 News, or NY1: News From Time Warner. There are a number of options that would be evolutionary, not revolutionary, and that would hook the old NY1 into the bigger landscape of the Time Warner brand. Pat was saying, 'we're still here' and we will be, Pat, no matter what the logo looks like. That is not always the case for a brand, but in this case, we just can't give up our morning coffee and you.


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