What’s in a Name?

What would you think if we changed the name of our magazine, Escarpment Views?
It’s not that we want to, after having dedicated the last five years to creating it and building the brand into a publication that people associate with high quality, go out of their way to pick up, pay money to subscribe to, and even pay for at a bookstore. Right from the start, we aimed to create a national-quality magazine focused on the whole Niagara Escarpment, from Niagara Falls onto Manitoulin Island, the most significant geographic area in Ontario. It appears that we have achieved this, for we may be perceived as a threat to other magazines with smaller visions.
Here’s the hypothetical situation, not naming any names. What would you think if a magazine with a smaller geographic reach objected to our use of the word “escarpment?” What if they took us to court over this? What if by some fluke of the judicial system, they won? What if there was a way to avoid this hassle, time and expense by changing our name?
When Mike & I started Escarpment Views, we did a name search and didn’t find anything to worry about. Even if there had been a small publication with a very long name that included the general geographic term in it, we wouldn’t have seen that as a problem. Who can claim exclusive right to general words like river, ocean, stream, lake, mountain, forest, desert etc? Why didn’t The Toronto Star take out the Toronto Sun when it started up? Didn’t The Star use “Toronto” first? And isn’t the sun actually a star? How come these media giants can co-exist in the exact same market without confusion by readers?
When we started publishing, Mike commented “If no one tries to take us out, that will be a bad sign.” It may be a compliment to our success and vision if sleeping media raise their heads and start squeaking.
So we’re considering a name change in order to stop any potential irritants, and to let us get back to our focus of leading the way in world-class magazine journalism that celebrates the wonders of the entire UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Niagara Escarpment.
I’m asking, what would you do? How would you change the name of Escarpment Views? If you had to. Hypothetically speaking.

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9 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. Roy Ramsay June 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Hi Gloria,

    Spending 5 years building a brand is significant. If you are making waves, then that is a good thing. You are doing something right. I fear that if you change your name you may loose the steam you have already built up. I believe they do not have a leg to stand on and they will lose this battle. If you have not registered your name as a trademark then you should begin that process now. Get it started and it should help you along the way.

    Stand tall, walk with determination in your step and don’t look back.

    Good luck!

  2. Gloria June 8, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks Roy! Encouraging words. Posted from Uncle Steve’s Park and Cabins on Manitoulin Island.

  3. Guylaine June 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    oooh…. Tough call! Sorry you’re having this problem after all your hard work. After doing a search online though I can see that the other magazine comes up first in the engines if you use Escarpment and a general term…so maybe it’s to your advantage to change your name anyway, so that you can be found easier. IF it was me, and the threat was real, I’d change it to something like “Niagara Escarpment Views”. That way it doesn’t change TOO Much so readers won’t recognize it. Also it would more closely identify exactly who you are… so that could be an advantage.
    Good luck with whatever you decide!

  4. Adam June 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Sorry to learn about your troubles. Ideally, I would say try to avoid changing names but if it has to be done perhaps you could consider reviving the old name for the Escarpment, the “mountain.” Locals still call it the mountain in Hamilton and Queenston, and this is how it was labelled by most early European settlers. Thus we have Mountain Roads etc in towns around the Escarpment today. Mountain Views magazine?

  5. Trudi Down June 10, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    I love the name and I agree with your initial thinking that “Escarpment” is a geographical term and cannot be “owned”. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to start a magazine and build a readership. You want to keep up that momentum. If this issue is going to sap your strength and, more importantly, the enthusiasm for what you and Mike are doing – then it’s not worth the hassle. A change to Niagara Escarpment Views is a good suggestion.
    Whatever you call the mag, I’ll be reading!
    All the Best,
    Trudi

  6. Gloria June 10, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Just back from an intense tour of Manitoulin Island & some visits to people on the Bruce. We saw a black bear cross the road!
    Thank you everyone, for your thoughts. Mountain Views is too close to a great magazine about outdoor activities in the Niagara Escarpment area of Georgian Bay, called Mountain LIfe. Niagara Escarpment Views might work. I do like the evolution of a magazine name rather than a complete change, if it’s possible. We’ll keep you posted on developments.

  7. Bruce Hood June 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Just ran across the magazine when we got it at Foodland in Hillsburgh – and love it!
    Not because my name is Bruce but have you thought of somehow incorporating Bruce Trail into your name…seems to pop up in many stories….just a thought!
    Continued success!

  8. Gloria September 5, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    We just received another comment on this blog post, which in itself is very interesting, seeing as this is an old post. The author of the comment has made a guess at the name of the other magazine, and even though he may be wrong, we don’t want to name any names. So I’m not able to post his comment without doing some editing. I would do this if it were a letter to the editor for print, so I feel justified in doing that here. The author’s comment is worth posting, however, so here is what Pierre writes, with my edits in square brackets:

    “What about calling your publication Niagara Views? I [think I] know the other magazine that you refer to, and I know that they have been calling themselves “[name withheld]” for far longer than you have been around… so I’m sorry but I can’t say that I blame them, or the judicial system for asking you to change your name.
    Brand confusion is a real problem, and if you feel that your publication is “leading the way in world-class magazine journalism” then you certainly wouldn’t want anyone mistaking your product to that of “other magazines with smaller visions.” For the record, [name withheld] is one of the most loved, well-read, innovative, professional publications in our area, and I’m a little shocked that you feel the need to bash them verbally on your website. As “Guylaine” noted above, it’s not difficult to crack your code, and saying “not naming any names” isn’t fooling anyone. Promoting tourism, local businesses and the wonderful area we live in should be the focus. Can’t we all get along? Disappointed.

  9. Gloria September 5, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Here are my notes in response to Pierre: Thank you for submitting your comment. We always appreciate our readers’ engagement, whatever their opinions. “Niagara Views” wouldn’t work because it gives the impression of limiting our focus to the Niagara Region alone. Please note that the judicial system has not asked us to change our name. We are considering doing that for our own reasons. We have not seen any evidence of brand confusion but we agree that we would not want there to be any such confusion. We also agree that promoting tourism, interesting businesses and the entire Niagara Escarpment should be the focus, at least of our magazine. We believe that we should compete with other publications in terms of this focus and the quality of editorial. We are also disappointed that it seems that some magazines would rather toy with the judicial system than compete with content and customer service. So Pierre, we agree on several points.

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