Inside IDG's rebrand: How the media giant looks to connect marketing and tech

Last week, International Data Group, better known as IDG, launched a wide rebranding and revamping of its marketing designed to elevate its profile and better reflect its integrated business model. The 50-year-old publisher, which reaches an audience of more than 280 million, has become a thoroughly modern media company with almost 90% of its revenue coming from digital, surpassing its print revenue in 2009.

In the past year, IDG has moved away from marketing the company through its well-known brands such as CIO, Computerworld, Macworld and PCWorld to showcasing the IDG brand as a whole. Part of that process entailed bringing on Josh London as its chief marketing officer to help create a unified marketing function across the company to match the rebrand.

For any company, rebranding can be an exciting, yet tedious effort. Completely rehauling a company's messaging takes the process to a whole other level. This campaign is the first company-wide branding initiative IDG has carried out.

The brand strategy, London told Marketing Dive, was to "better articulate the scope of the company's media, data and marketing services capabilities and the insights, intent and engagement that IDG has always been known for."

Remaking marketing at IDG

For the rebrand, IDG hired global brand agency Doremus for brand strategy development and for insight on positioning, personality and promise. The creative and activation of the new brand was handled in-house. In terms of rethinking the overall marketing strategy, London said the team spent time "getting underneath the hood of the business" to uncover opportunities and figure out what they were doing right.

"We talked to people inside and outside of the business, and conducted research to understand how IDG and our offerings are viewed by our customers and prospects (and former clients)," he said, adding, "One message I heard consistently from our clients during our research phase was that IDG is a true partner – one that cares deeply about our clients' long term success."

That kind of feedback gained through research can help shed light on the path a company needs to take to execute a successful rebrand.

An important aspect of the new marketing strategy was emphasizing IDG’s knowledge of technology media and ability to create custom content through a data-driven approach to reaching buyers. London explained a challenge they came across was that through research the team found that many IDG clients had an outdated picture of the company.

As the media world continues to adapt to the digital- and increasingly mobile-first reality, the advertising community at large has had to shift its approach to how it conducts business.

Part of the new marketing was reinforcing the depth of IDG's relationships with tech buyers globally via its websites, 179 international magazines and 700 annual events. London said the rebranding and marketing of IDG covered everything from the big-picture approach to tactical details.

"The evolution of the media industry and the way marketers connect with their customers has fundamentally changed," the CMO explained. "So, it was important for us to communicate how we've evolved our business over time in response to how marketers need to communicate with their audiences. Our new tagline speaks about technology media that drives 'Insights, Intent and Engagement,' referring to the three areas of our business – media, data and marketing services."

Involving employees in the rebranding

London said the team was excited about the employee communications initiatives developed as part of the official rebrand launch. Because IDG operates in 97 countries and historically has been decentralized through its media brands, he said the team felt it was important to have something to unite the company under one voice.

"On day one (of the rebrand launch), employees around the world will receive a special present on their desks. They'll receive the 'We are IDG' brand story book that describes why we’re undertaking this important effort, as well as items that represent what makes IDG unique."

London will also personally visit offices worldwide presenting the new branding initiative, architecture and guidelines.

Rebranding can be a tricky proposition for a well-known brand like IDG. To track the success of the endeavor, London said some of the key performance indicators the team will be watching will include customer awareness of the new positioning, traffic to external websites, leads generated, earned media, contribution to the sales funnel and social media sentiment.

The chief marketer said the rebranding and revamping of IDG’s marketing marks an exciting time for the company especially given the current transformative mood of the media industry. 

"We've built meaningful relationships with our customers because of the trust and integrity IDG is known for," he stated. "In technology media, it can be tough to differentiate one competitor from another. It was important to us to make sure that our culture and our unique ability to bridge both the art and science of technology media came through in our new positioning."

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Top image credit: IDG