A Case of Magazine Rebranding

Sidebar to Publishing as Branding

In 1997, two Miller Freeman magazines faced a dilemma. The market they had served for more than a decade was rapidly consolidating. DBMS and DBPD both covered the database software market. (The “DB” in both of them stands for “Database”). The trouble was that while databases were more critical than ever, the sellers of database software were merging or being acquired by larger enterprise software companies. The hundreds of small companies that once provided advertising for DBMS and DBPD were hurtling toward a future in which only three major players would remain: IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft.

The readers’ information need was also changing. As database technology matured, readers no longer had to focus on which technologies to use, but on how to build business applications with the technologies they already had. This new information need was accompanied by readers’ changing job responsibilities: as database software became central to business operations, DBMS and DBPD readers moved from the technology “back office” to the business “front office.

Here we observed shifts in market, information need, and demographics. The first step in addressing these changes was to analyze the market opportunity: We saw emerging companies that focused on database-related business applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning and Business Intelligence. When we determined that it was viable and growing, we turned to the subscriber data. The existing readers were well entrenched in their new functions and with some careful additions and deletions we believed we could deliver an audience that advertisers would covet.

When we looked at the editorial identities of the two magazines, it was clear: no amount of tweaking would realign them adequately. Consequently, we shut them down, combined the staffs, merged the audiences, and designed a new magazine brand – Intelligent Enterprise – for our existing readers. The new magazine had a new editorial lineup, writing style, and a new design that reflected the shifts we had observed. – David M. Kalman.