As I was prepping for my interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in December 2011 I, like any good potential new hire, checked out the current status of the products I’d be managing. My initial reaction wasn’t quite a spit-take but it was close.
There was no cohesive identity between brands. There was no way to navigate between them seamlessly. They had broken components. They sent traffic off the parent site. There was nothing tying them to their printed counterparts other than the parent brand masthead. One year later we changed that.
The problem at hand was the notion that “Classifieds” were old. How could we make them new again? How could we call them what they actually were? Finally, we landed on JSMarketplace. JSMarketplace called the classified section out by it’s core mission — buying and selling goods between users — no longer beholden to classification numbers that had become irrelevant some many years prior and tied it distinctly back to the JSOnline brand identity*.
Additionally, the JSMarketplace umbrella allowed space for the subsequent sections to be broken out by their specific genres (as a user searching for a home isn’t necessarily going to be searching for a job at the same time) while maintaining strong ties to one another, firmly establishing that the sections all belong together.
Jobs became JSJobs, Cars became JSAutos, House and Home became JSHomes and JSRentals. Each brand married to the parent brand and each still retaining their own core identity. As a team of one, each of these brands still have a ways to go before being close to perfection, but the movement made to create identities for each of these brands true to their mission was a huge win across the board.
Design for these pages was an effort varying between different players depending on the project. This ranges from third-party vendors (of which I manage the relationships), in-house design and development teams, advertising, marketing and sales departments.
*In October 2013 the decision was made to return the masthead to read Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and maintain the url jsonline.com. The disjoints between this and the greater brand identity merit a further discussion.
All examples provided were at one point the live site for the vertical or are currently live on JSOnline.com properties.