Building the whole brand

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Many publications are trying to develop innovative ways to reach advertisers who are short on print-spending dollars and savvy consumers who think outside the traditional circulation realm of subscriptions and newsstand sales. Given these circumstances, it is important for print media entities to redefine their position in the marketplace by allowing brands to evolve and collaborate.

A magazine brand must identify its niche — what it does well — and expand its content and audience. The print marketplace is saturated with publications that continue to boast “newness” to appeal to a younger demographic (that is spending more time on digital properties than ever before). These titles forget the loyal readership base that continues to buy into brand legacy. The goal for publishers looking to reinvent their product is to embrace those elements that they have already perfected, and then evolve by simultaneously introducing fresh ideas into the brand equity.

As the new owner of The Source Media Group [“SMG”], along with Black Enterprise Greenwich Street, one of our strategies has been to extend our editorial content to encompass the broader lifestyle of Hip-Hop, which is now unarguably a part of mainstream culture. In fall 2008, we re-launched phase one of TheSource.com, introduced Source TV, Source Radio and Source Mobile networks and redesigned The Source magazine to speak to our unique, multigenerational audience across all platforms. We also added new topics, including health, technology, travel, art, film and business, in addition to continuing our extensive coverage of music, fashion, sports and automobiles. In this manner, The Source has become all-inclusive — a resource for all things Hip-Hop — which is not only attractive for readers new and old, but, just as important, to those advertisers looking to reach a wider demo.

It is equally important for publishers to integrate efforts in-house and with others in the same sphere. What media-thinkers call “integrative marketing” is really collaboration. What's different about “The new era” of The Source is that we are committed to cultivating this dynamic brand into a formidable media partner from an advertising, marketing and circulation point of view. We don't see our marketing initiatives as separate entities from events, editorial or advertising; we see the big picture of a media brand with multiple legs all working to drive awareness, circulation and revenue. TheSource.com supports The Source magazine, and Source Mobile supports Source events and so forth.  

In an economy that does not allow for extensive spending or big media buys, we've taken this concept one step further. The Source Media Group is entering this new era with an evolved brand that not only reflects the evolution of Hip-Hop but also meets the needs of our advertising and marketing clients.

L. Londell McMillan is the co-owner and executive publisher of The Source. Reach him through Sweta Shah at sshah@5wpr.com.

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