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Editor's Note-Twin Cities Business
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Editor's Note-Twin Cities Business

What's in a name change?

No, that isn’t a normal headline at the top of this column. It’s a new logo for this magazine, to be formally adopted next month. Yes, something is missing: the word "Monthly."

Twin Cities Business Monthly is precisely 131⁄2 years old, and for all of that time, at least a few members of our company’s management group believed that the name was too long. You and I have become accustomed to it, but people hearing the name for the first time will repeat it twice and still forget it. Leaving telephone messages, I hear myself saying: "That’s Twin . . . Cities . . . Business . . . Monthly . . . magazine . . . . Almost: Twin Cities Business Monthly. I would have given it a shorter name."

Some time ago, we presented an award to a Minnesota business leader who thanked us publicly and said that it was his practice to read "every issue of the Twin Cities Business"—and here there was a long pause—"Journal?" A sponsor of an event we put on recently referred to us as Twin Cities Monthly. A former columnist called us the Twin Cities Monthly Business Journal. Argh.

The catalyst for the name change was a redesign of the magazine, which will be completed next month, but is already evident in this issue in livelier illustrations of features and special focuses. Art Director Scott Buchschacher, whose work brought dozens of design awards into our offices, became stretched thin as the offerings of the magazine expanded. He has been joined by Chris Winn, a longtime art teacher and illustrator who helped design the very first issue of Twin Cities Business Monthly, in which we promised to deliver a publication "informed, lively, colorful, and unpredictable." At that time we also promised to produce "a business magazine that doesn’t look like a business magazine."

As Winn designed sample covers, it became clear that if they weren’t going to look like business magazine covers—if they weren’t going to feature middle-aged men and women in dark suits—we were going to have to highlight the word "Business" more prominently. After we did, "Monthly" looked like an awkward appendage. We began to ask ourselves if we dare drop it altogether. It was not a decision to take lightly, as writer Phil Bolsta explains in a story about naming companies in this issue.

Not everyone was thrilled with the change. One of my associates contended that it would send a false signal of distress. (I promised to note in a column that we had record sales and profits in 2005, and to repeat the announcement that we were named the nation’s best regional business magazine.) It was argued that the change might suggest that the magazine would no longer be published every month. (There will be 13 issues in 2006, including the annual Business Information Guide, and we hope to add a second annual in 2007.) Wouldn’t the shorter name suggest a strong Twin Cities orientation, even though the magazine is read at 72 percent of all companies in Greater Minnesota that have more than 50 employees? Probably so, but the old name did that, too.

The experiences of others offer encouragement. Investors Diversified Services shortened its name to IDS, changed it to American Express Financial Advisors, and lately rechristened itself Ameriprise, all without loss of market share. Lutheran Brotherhood became Thrivent. I remember disliking the name Reliastar when it was adopted by one of Minnesota’s premier insurance companies—but have become so accustomed to it that I had to go to the Internet to relearn its former name (Northwestern National Life Insurance Company). Our two key competitors both changed their names in recent years, and neither hurt themselves by doing so, darn it.

It is true that several of those companies were able to introduce their new names with multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns. By contrast, we have mailed our advertising clients reprinted media kits, notepads, and some mints in small tins imprinted with the magazine’s new logo. The primary vehicle for promoting the change to readers will be this column.

Twin Cities Business. I do hope you won’t miss the word "Monthly." My associates and I promise, as we did 131⁄2 years ago, to do our best to produce a magazine that you will want to find time for, month after month.

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