My favorite phrase regarding good branding is "unique and memorable." Great brands provide a unique and memorable experience. Ironically, I can't remember where or when I first heard the phrase "unique and memorable" but I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to the new BusinessWeek look.
Study that "new" logo for a moment. Could it be any more generic? I guess so, if they would have gone with a black background instead, but the white-on-red look is pretty darned close to the opposite of unique and memorable.
I just received my copy of the first print issue with the new design. (To be honest, I didn't see a big problem with the old design and I seriously doubt it was the culprit for a decline in subscriptions. Nevertheless, someone felt that something had to be done I suppose, hence this new look.) I also recently read this article describing the rationale for the overhaul.
First of all, the headline "Imitating the Web, for the Busy Reader" makes me cringe. The article goes on to say that, "from an advertiser's perspective, the new BusinessWeek is designed a bit more like a web site." I think you could replace the word "advertiser's" with "reader's" and it would still be true. But is that really what we're looking for in a good magazine...for it to look more like a web site?
I go online for the most up-to-date news as well as to read short pieces of content. My eyes start to dry up and glaze over if I'm constantly scrolling or paging through an article. Magazines are where I go for more in-depth content; that, and some of the nicer ones do a better job with full-color images than you typically see online. But it's really all about depth, which is why I was also disappointed to read that "the magazine will feature just two long articles a week."
If they're going to dumb down the business news every week in this magazine where am I supposed to go for the more in-depth coverage? Why do I feel like my BusinessWeek subscription just morphed into a magazine version of USAToday?