SaltWire Network Brand Launch
Overview of this campaign
For years, the newspaper brands under TC Media had been in dramatic decline. The publications had been homogenized with all location personality stripped away. Individual mastheads had been compromised, local relationships with communities diminished and the stature of once-great brands, all but lost. Internally, no investment was being made. Even simple things like branded pens became a thing of the past. Employees felt hopelessly marginalized.
When SaltWire Network was formed, it became clear a strong parent brand was required; we needed to signal the return of power to newspapers across Atlantic Canada. At the same time, the SaltWire brand couldn’t overshadow the brands of the individual publications. TC Media had previously prioritized the parent over the local brand, but SaltWire would depart from this practice. Both the public and our employees needed to see this.
Our launch activities, therefore, focused on elevating the importance of the local masthead, while simultaneously raising awareness and understanding for SaltWire. We also needed to be cautious in our communications. A small, private company acquiring the assets of a publicly-traded company in an industry where most were divesting, rather than investing, was a risky move. With that in mind, launch activities needed to create excitement and optimism, but couldn’t create excessive fanfare.
Given these factors, the launch the SaltWire brand was intentionally slow and steady, taking place over an eight-month period. That is not to say it wasn’t powerful. It was highly coordinated and integrated, with every activity serving to reiterate and reinforce three key principles:
- We’re returning these publications back to the communities they serve.
- We are committing to being an essential source of information.
- We are investing in our people and our communities.
From the new name to the the year-end thank you ad that ran in December 2017, the launch of SaltWire focused on reiterating that we are both individuals and part of the greater whole.
Results for this campaign
Everything about the brand and communicating our three key principles began with the name. SaltWire Network connects to the ocean, the grit of our people, the essential nature of what we do, the history of our industry and the interconnectedness of our organization. Creating this name set the tone for everything that followed.
That started with launch day, during which we prioritized our employees. A highly coordinated announcement was planned with all 850 employees simultaneously participating in either a joint conference call or in-person announcement across more than 30 locations. In 15 of those locations, a senior representative from The Chronicle Herald was on-site to welcome TC Media employees into the family and ease concerns.
This was the start of an eight-month long process to both “cleanse” the old parent brand and restore strong publication brands. This included distributing publication-branded water bottles in the days that followed the announcement (a seemingly small gesture, but profoundly meaningful to staff), updating mastheads to their original colours (many had previously been branded with a TC- orange colour that nearly all employees disliked), the launch of 27 new websites, new publication signage and much more. All of which received rave reviews, restored identity back to the publications and signaled big changes to the public.
The hallmark of the brand launch was an initiative called The Open Up Project. Launched in September 2017, this initiative activated the principle of “investing in our people and our communities.” The Project is an Atlantic Candadian conversation about local media; what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong and how we can serve our communities better.
In a two month period, we visited nine communities, conducted 20 internal brand presentations, engaged 445 employees, hosted 695 guests at seven community events, and received 1521 individual pieces of feedback.
The brand will continue to be implemented across the Network on a regular basis and through phases two and three of The Open Up Project.