Creating a brand identity — from The Gator Nation to name changes for Dow Jones News Fund, American Society of News Editors and Radio and Television Digital News Association

In class today, we discussed The Gator Nation campaign as a case study of branding, integrated marketing (public relations and advertising), and the use of social media.

Branding helps an organization create an image that goes beyond the concept of a product or service. After watching The Gator Nation television commercials, the students brainstormed on what The Gator Nation brand represents. Diversity. Community. The ability to accomplish great things. Lifelong friendships. Positive feelings. Being supportive of others.

The Gator Nation. It’s a name. It’s a concept. It’s the UF brand.

Media organizations are grappling with how to recreate themselves as a new brand — moving from decades of success in their approach to delivering news (and other content) through newspapers, radio stations and television stations.

Even listing those sounds dated. We’re now reading news on our laptops and smartphones. We’re listening to satellite radio or downloading podcasts of NPR broadcasts. We TiVo to record the television programs we want to watch for when we want to watch them.

News organizations are looking to branding concepts as a way of changing perceptions about what they are and what they are doing. One way to change the concept of the brand is to change the name of the organization.

The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund announced today that it is changing its name to the Dow Jones News Fund.

According to the news release: “The new name reflects outreach to news services, websites and digital media in the past few years and a projection that there is more to come as the industry evolves. ”

Dow Jones joins two other media organizations that have changed their names as a reflection of changes in the industry.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors changed its name in March 2009 to the American Society of News Editors. The organization at that time also changed its bylaws to expand its membership “to offer full membership to deans, directors and endowed or distinguished chairs of accredited journalism schools, directors of online-only news and/or nondaily news organizations and foundations and training organizations that focus on journalism.”

Then in October 2009, the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) changed its name to the Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

These name changes have not only meant changing the Web site’s URL or ordering new letterhead but reflect a major sea change.

ASNE and DJNF have presented themselves as organizations representing newspapers — meaning newsprint publications. Within recent years, news has been shifting to other delivery platforms in addition to or rather than newsprint.

For RTDNA, that name change reflects that more of  the news that had been traditionally delivered via television now includes digital delivery, which could be HDTV but also means television stations using the Web to deliver news in broadcast and print form.

The term “legacy media” or “old media” is used by some to refer to what have been the standards of the media — newspapers, telelvision and radio.

“New media” refers to media that focus on the Internet, blogging, mobile devices and social media.

So the legacy media organizations are attempting to step out of the definition they initially embraced to take on a broader and more forward-thinking image. The name change is an important step in announcing a changed brand. But what they are doing to actually make a change is the true test of the new(s) brand.

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