Extending Your Brand – New York Times Style

by Ric Merrifield

Extending Your Brand - New York Times Style“All the news that’s fit to print” is the longstanding motto of The New York Times that has served them well.

What a great brand.

Fashion, sports, science, politics, sports, business, arts, travel, the arts, etc, it’s all in there and extremely high quality reporting every day. Incredible photography as well. They made the shift to online as elegantly as any of the major paper publishers and I believe that they will survive the growing trend of people not reading newspapers any more as shorter digital content becomes more prevalent. Do I think my son will ever have a paper delivered to his house? No. And I think the expression “it was in the paper Wednesday” will fade because we don’t think of news as the daily chunk that a newspaper is, we get our information from many sources throughout the course of the day.

That’s just the way things are going.

But they have figured out a way to hedge their bets with The New York Times Store. I have been aware of the store for a number of years (as far as I know it’s only an online store – I see the ads printed in the paper that is delivered to my house every day). I have seen countless ads for the store with the timeless image of Y.A. Tittle, helmet-less after a crushing loss as a New York (football) Giant. It sells for about $200 signed by Tittle. The Tittle photo is one of many in a standard ad that has run for the store for years. That has always struck me as a simple but logical extension of the brand of the paper to sell copies of the photos it prints. Probably not a gigantic business, but worth the effort.


But things have taken a turn for the far more interesting. Now the store is selling things that have nothing to do with content – things that were never printed in the paper. They have extended it to all things New York in a brand-consistent high quality way. Now you can buy everything from “game used” ball cuff links made from balls actually used in New York Yankee games. You can also buy an actual brick from the old Yankee stadium that was recently torn down, and I would trust the authenticity of these things entirely because of my trust of the brand.

And to top it all off, they included off-the-charts great customer service which is consistent with how the customer service at the paper has performed.

I actually got one of the bricks from Yankee stadium for my Dad for Father’s day this year (he grew up going to that park) and the order was delayed. How did I know that? They called to tell me. I had also ordered something else, and they sent me the wrong thing, and they called me to apologize even before it arrived. After I spoke to an improbably responsive “Ryan” twice in about five minutes, the items were overnighted to me (at their expense) well in time for father’s day. When I asked about the logistics of returning the items they sent to me in error, they simply said “we will worry about that later.”

I haven’t had service like that in years. It was one of those rare customer service experiences that was so great, I told several people about it.

This makes so much sense to me, that The New York Times rethinks their brand in a direction that has no dependency on how many papers they sell. My prediction is that we have only begun to see what this store is going to offer – it’s not going to happen in a New York minute, but in the coming months and years this store will be a very common place for us to shop for presents and gifts.

P.S. I am not a big believer in events like Father’s day, and I know my Dad doesn’t care about it at all, but he sure thought that brick was cool.

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Ric Merrifield is known at the “Business Scientist” at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA and is the author of “Rethink“. He blogs about ways to rethink through getting out of what he calls “the ‘how’ trap”.

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