10.15.2013

Should Martha Stewart Living become Martha Stewart?

I received an interesting notification from Facebook last week informing me that the Martha Stewart Living page would be changing its name to simply "Martha Stewart" on October 22nd - dropping the word "Living" from its identity. I found the notification curious and started to wonder if perhaps this is part of a rebranding strategy the company is embarking on, to hone in on the name of the company's founder in order to increase the magazine's newsstand recognition. Should Martha Stewart Living magazine become simply Martha Stewart magazine? Keep reading...
On a radio program this past summer, the new editor-in-chief, Eric Pike, noted that they were working on making the name Martha Stewart appear bigger on the magazine cover. Why not simply name the magazine after her? The timing is perfect: the name and all that it stands for is recognized around the world, the Martha Stewart brand is well-established and has already identified itself as one that produces lifestyle content (the word Living seems almost superfluous given what we know of the brand) and many people already refer to the magazine, casually, as Martha Stewart magazine; "Did you see the article in the new Martha Stewart about taxidermy?"

Quite a few other magazines currently use the word "Living" in their titles, including some of their chief rivals, Country Living and Living Etc., not to mention spin-off home and lifestyle magazines, such as Vogue Living. There is no other magazine that has the words Martha Stewart in its title, however, and playing up the name might be just what the doctor ordered - a way of isolating and highlighting the brand from all of its copycat competitors. After all, there can be only one Martha Stewart on the magazine rack! Anyway, I took the liberty of designing some covers (above) that use only the name Martha Stewart in the title just to give myself a sense of what it might look like and whether or not I would respond well to it, visually. Tell me what you think? Do you like Martha Stewart Living or just Martha Stewart?

25 comments:

cascadiadays said...

I think it's a great idea. It seems like all the other mags started using the word "living" after she made it what it was so it's time to move on. If Oprah can have her own name on a magazine then Martha can. Just don't call it "Martha".

Darrell White said...

They are both excellent, Andrew. They look very refreshing. I would buy both based on the covers. And you know I wouldn't say that if I didn't think so. I like the silence of the one on the right.

Skyler Franklin said...

Simply, wow! ... Andrew you are Canada's Martha Stewart.

David P. DeVito said...

I never thought about it before now, but how macabre a title after she passes. Maybe healthier to change the name now in a positive note.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting development in the Martha Stewart world. Last year on this blog, I posted a comment saying that I believe Martha Stewart's name SHOULD be bigger on the magazine because (for example) if someone is at the grocery store looking for a good Thanksgiving magazine for ideas and Martha Stewart's big name is shown, buyers immediately know it will be fantastic because of who she is and what she is known for. I am all for renaming it Martha Stewart magazine.

Pru said...

I just want more Martha. More about her and her homes and her practices. I read Martha's column and her articles over and over again. The heading doesn't bother me so much - although I agree with David P that it will be a bit weird when she isn't here. There are way too many 'living' magazine titles on the shelf though.

Regine said...

Living should stay.
Living should have an exclamation point added!
Stewart embodies "living" and is the driving force that started a new genre of business that has enriched our lives; lifestyle.

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Pru, I actually think it would be more macabre to read a magazine called Martha Stewart Living when the lady herself is not. The idea was to give the brand "Betty Crocker" longevity with the name.

Pru said...

Oh I hadn't thought of it in that way Andrew! Although without any articles on Martha after she isn't here (I feel bad writing that though) I don't know whether I would be so interested in the magazine. I'm still inspired by the magazine as a whole but not as much as I used to be.

Dee @deeConstructed.com said...

I don't know, after slamming Gwyneth and bloggers on the whole yesterday, maybe they need to take her name OFF of the cover completely. That can't have good results...

Rowaida said...

Hi Andrew, I think that is a wonderful idea to have the magazine named Martha Stewart. Wow love!

Kenn said...

When we first chatted about the possibility.. I was instantly hesitant to like the idea of changing the name... but you know, I really like the look of it.. I'm sold.

Paul Stoddard said...

I really like them, especially the holiday issue. I think it could be a good move to drop the "Living" name, way to many other magazines with the words living in the title. Do you know if there will be a new Holiday issue this year?

Frederic Kahler said...

my gut reaction today was actually to drop the "Martha stewart" - to downplay her role for the time being, to let her demographic "team" up with the younger MSL staff, which is overqualified, another little problem. your covers are lovely but I see them as coffee table books. we still are not seeing bound annuals of MSL.

Kevin said...

Andrew, MSLO is so very fortunate to have your blog at their disposal, as something of an ongoing focus group representing the thoughts and opinions of their core audience. Absolutely beautiful design work on these covers!

Ronnie said...

agree with Kevin Link and love the typography. On one hand, the magazine and brand represent Martha in person while on the other, she is hardly present there or on either of the suggested covers, or any of the recent real ones. How does that bond a new naming with an old persona? I would definitely expect to see more of her presence.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm. . . .is that comment from Kevin Sharkey. (I'm guessing it is indeed. . . . )

Anonymous said...

Lately, every time Martha opens her mouth, the value of the "Martha Stewart" name decreases in value. First the Apple iPad incident and now dissing Gwyneth and bloggers.

Christina said...

They need to hire you. Like now.

AJ said...

Am I right in thinking no cover of Living has featured Martha herself so far this year? Seems a bit odd??

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Thanks for all the great comments! AJ, yes, you're right: no cover has yet featured an image of Martha, aside from the special Halloween issue.

Anonymous said...

When my husband asks "can't we recycle these Martha Stewarts?" (Me:"NO!") We all know what he's talking about. Drop the Living.

Kristina said...

Yes, I almost never use the "Living" portion of the title. Its always Martha Stewart Magazine in my mind. I think the change would be a good one, although not very drastic.
I like the covers you did Andrew! They are modern but remind me of the older issues that I love so much.

Anonymous said...

I like dropping the 'Living' part. In fact, just MARTHA might be interesting. There are few people who ever make it big enough to be known by one name and she definitely is one of them.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten the impression that they were easing Martha Stewart herself out of her own magazine. They feature her less and less (when actually, I think the public wants to see her more and more - especially with her grandchildren). One recent issue only had one picture of her in a beekeeping suit, where you couldn't tell for sure it was her. I was shocked by the trend I've seen the magazine moving in. Hopefully, with the new editor, they will correct some of the downward drifting I've seen of late. Also, she is really missed on tv. someone should really jump on that and make it worth her while to have a show again. Nothing currently on the air compares to Martha Stewart's shows.