Not that I want to sit here and comment on the tempest-tossed magazine industry, but I spotted a news item last week that got lost among the business section. Bloomberg, the financial data and media company run by New York Billionaire-Turned-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has bought the popular BusinessWeek magazine.
One shocking figure is how cheap an entire magazine operation will go for these days. According to Gothamist, “… The deal’s terms weren’t disclosed, but BusinessWeek reported that it may be in the $2-5 million range.” Holy crap, that’s nothing! There are folks who can pay that with a personal check. Then again, the magazine is also $31 million in debt, which will now go to new owners Bloomberg. I guess that’s the downside.
But the real reason I’m writing about this is because they’re changing the name! The mag will now be known, appropriately as Bloomberg BusinessWeek. While the new name is a classic example of monolithic brand extension, it’s also completely unwieldy. This feels almost as awkward as the recently formed Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
I’m anxious to see if we’ll see another redesign of the magazine’s logo, which isn’t terribly old itself. Bloomberg has a different typeface at work, and a different overall feel within its brand identity, so will that affect the publication under new owners?
I wonder if Bloomberg will start gobbling up magazines and launch a line of branded titles the way Condé Nast has Traveler and Portfolio and the like. As long as the content stays true, why not? Bloomberg already has a strong brand association with business and financial media, so why not extend to print? However, there is something to be said for independence in media sources. Conglomerates, whether in newspapers, tv, or in magazines, can get dangerous when it comes to influencing the wider world. I’m sure someone can pose an argument for super-independence within the financial sphere, especially after the year we’ve had. Oy.