Brand Communication

Heads for the “Republik”

In the last few weeks, after extensive brand profiling, we have developed a clear brand profile, a new claim and a small advertising campaign for the online medium Republik, which can be seen in Zurich these days. The campaign has not gone down badly with Republik’s readers. More than 80 “publishers” have commented, most of them positively. Reader Andi Rieser, for example: “I like your campaign, I want to know it, that’s why I subscribed to Republik, thank you!” But of course there are also critical voices. Helen F. from B., for example, writes: “Marketing professionals are not needed in this world. They are just a part of the economists and therefore pseudo-scientists”. Much more interesting is the criticism of reader Andrea Victorino: “It irritates me that this survey was done for free by the agency Heads Corporate Branding. Is the resulting publicity for themselves the reward?” I would like to explain a little more, because there is indeed a charge, but not in the form of money.

Our commitment to the Repulik closes a big circle for me personally. 35 years ago, on a July morning, I stood on Zurich’s Werdstrasse and looked up at the big “Tages-Anzeiger” logo on the facade. I was just 17 years old and starting my commercial apprenticeship at Tages-Anzeiger AG. For me, the “Tages-Anzeiger” was the “Washington Post” of Switzerland. It made me proud to now work at a newspaper that stood for independent, tenacious and uncompromising journalism. Although as a commercial apprentice I spent most of my time in accounting, the purchasing department or in sales, I was inspired by the social benefits that the newspaper provided. That’s what we call purpose today. This purpose was so strong it made me stay on after my apprenticeship – for a total of 16 years. From commercial apprentice to PR assistant, to sponsoring employee, to PR manager, to head of communications at the “Tages-Anzeiger”. Years of work that never made me doubt the meaning of my work. “We stay tuned” was the paper’s long-standing slogan. And the editorial team did stay tuned, especially in its best days under the leadership of Roger de Weck. I left Tamedia just before the Internet shook media companies to their core. From a commercial point of view, I could understand the company’s subsequent development, because Tamedia remained the cash cow to which the far-flung publishing family had become accustomed. But journalism was only possible with compromises in content; the editorial department had to become smaller and smaller, the purely commercial area larger and larger. So the original purpose fell by the wayside. “Content for people” was the company’s claim. Today, the journalists in the (print) newsroom of the “Tages-Anzeiger” can see in real time what readers prefer to click on online. In short, I lost my favourite newspaper. I mutated into an NZZ reader and still enjoy its precise writing, but I missed an investigative and independent medium. Then came Republic. Right from the start I was worried that the great initial success would make the editorial team careless (read: REPUBLIK – Medienmarke mit Apple-Effekt) But what the editorial team published in the following twelve months in terms of outstanding, unique articles and how many new ideas the medium gave me in such a short time exceeded my expectations. So when I read this summer that Republic was not growing fast enough and that this could threaten its existence in the long term, I was alarmed.

So my team and I thought about whether, in addition to all the other work we do, we shouldn’t get involved in a socially and democratically relevant cause for free. We saw the potential in brand management and believed we could contribute to the growth of the medium.

The Republik understood where we saw potential and were interested in our support. So we got to work. After a few weeks, we presented the Republik team with a fairly critical analysis, a positioning proposal, a slogan and a campaign approach (read about it on «Wollen Sie es wirklich wissen»).

The Republik team were incredibly open to our analysis, curious and self-critical. And we were delighted by the high level of agreement with our suggestions. The slogan also fits the Republic’s bright minds: They really want to know. Now we wish the Republic from the bottom of our hearts that there are so many who really want to know. So many that the future of the Republic is assured. That, dear Andrea Victorino, would be the reward for our work.

— Ralph Hermann / 15.11.2019