How IDG’s CMO Reinvented The Legacy Print Brand In A Digital Age

Find out how Josh London, IDG’s first CMO, changed the organization’s narrative by unifying the story of multiple magazine titles across several markets—set against the changing backdrop of the global media industry.

How IDG’s CMO Reinvented The Legacy Print Brand In A Digital Age

by Mark Jones And Nicole Manktelow

Posted on 10-08-2017

For Josh London, IDG’s first CMO, changing the organization’s narrative required a monumental global effort. Find out how he unified the story of multiple magazine titles across several markets, set against the changing backdrop of the global media industry.

You’re a new CMO, the company’s first ever. You’ve come on board after a much-scrutinised change of ownership. Your business operates hundreds of publications in the ferociously competitive trade media sector, and your staff members are located in more than 100 countries around the globe.

Your mission is nothing less than to change the entire story of your company—both inside and out.

These were the circumstances facing Josh London when he took the reins as chief marketing officer at International Data Group (IDG) in 2015. Research revealed consumers were largely unaware of the company’s breadth. The challenge was to get the highly distributed global giant to speak with one voice.

“Historically we’ve been extremely decentralised,” London said. “In the past, if I wanted to reach CIOs, I’d go to”

Now, with integrated teams selling across titles, buyers can reach CIOs when they are most receptive to an advertising message, both on and across the entire IDG portfolio.

“When those other items were revealed to them, not surprisingly, readers started engaging more, and our advertisers started taking advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities globally,” London said.

One of the most challenging aspects of a rebrand is bringing long-term employees with you on the journey, especially for an organisation with more than 13,000 people in 147 countries.

To drive the brand unification through IDG’s disparate offices and properties, London and his team worked to identify key driving-force personalities who could become advocates for the new approach across the globe.

“One of the ways we did that was with a welcome kit, which re-welcomed long-standing employees and new employees alike to the company,” London said. “It explained how we articulate ourselves, our value proposition, and what we believe in.”

Like the streamlined internal communications plan, simple consumer-facing changes belied the complexity of the business case behind them. New branding needed to reflect a wide range of titles and existing brand awareness. In some cases, individual publications like PCWorld and MacWorld held greater brand resonance than IDG itself.

“We did something very simple and also very subtle, which was to associate [all titles] with the master brand. So instead of just CIO, we use CIO from IDG. That subtle reinforcement says ‘There’s something more here,’” London said. “We also did backlinking where it makes sense and content sharing between publications, but it really was about saying, ‘Instead of this room that you’re used to entering, there’s a grand house for you to explore.’”

Join The CMO Show hosts Nicole Manktelow and Mark Jones as we dive into the details of IDG’s monumental rebranding effort and learn how one of the world’s biggest media and research companies reinvented its legacy print brand in a complex digital age. CMO Show is a podcast about brand storytelling and the future of marketing. To listen to previous episodes, visit the website or follow along on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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