Below is a brief (edited to protect the innocent) exchange I had with a reader in response to my post on the new Royal Gazette website which raised some good points and clarified some of mine:
I disagree with you when you say the changes are branding mistake. From an online point of view I think that the changes make a lot of sense. The demographics of online readers will be quite different from those of newspaper subscribers (and the RG isn't going to be able to convert online readers to paying paper subscribers, with or without brand continuity). In order to thrive the RG needs to engage a different set of users than are buying their newspaper. Ewart Brown's push against 'the daily' has definitely turned a section of the public against "The Royal Gazette" by portraying them as the voice of the old white establishment. My wife pointed out that the new logo is probably an attempt to modernize and decolonialize the RG's image. "Royal" is de-emphasized and they ditched the 'Ye Olde England' gothic/medieval font.
I don't entirely disagree, and think that the logo etc is indeed an attempt to modernize the image, but I don't see having two separately branded properties as making much sense.
But to me, if you have an image/brand problem you fix it, not create two parallel ones. The existing will undermine the new. I'd say modernize the paper as well, which is why I am critical of disconnected branding. The NY Times has it right, as does the WSJ etc. although no-one has figured out the monetizing online content well - other than the Huffington Post and/or Politico who succeed at aggregating and monetizing other people's content.
I think that the Gazette is going in the direction you're suggesting, I just think they should take the paper there as well. Ultimately the demographics of online and paper readers will converge, so maintaining two brands doesn't make long term sense. I suspect alot of people read both the paper, and online, although no longer embargoing content until 10AM may change that.
You are right about the Gazette's need to change its paper image as well. I think a well thought out redesign would have been best but they probably wanted to hurry the online changes out. I agree that they need to change the paper as well, but the new online look might not be what they want.