The press release arrived in inboxes Thursday afternoon, and within minutes it seemed everyone in media or branding was scoffing at it.
Tribune Publishing Co. (NYSE:TPUB) today announced that the Company will change its name to tronc, Inc., a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels. tronc, or tribune online content, captures the essence of the Company’s mission. tronc pools the Company’s leading media brands and leverages innovative technology to deliver personalized and interactive experiences to its 60 million monthly users. The name change will become effective on June 20, 2016.
Yes, that’s tronc with a lower-case t, a portmanteau of tribune online content. The ticker symbol will be TRNC. And the “engine” of all that “content curation and monetization” will be called troncX, because nothing says “innovative technology” like an “X” in the name.
Tribune Publishing Co., based in Chicago, owns some of the oldest and biggest surviving newspapers in the United States, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. The company, like the rest of the newspaper industry, has been struggling for years.
And now it faces yet another challenge: a storm of ridicule from journalists, brand consultants, and critical civilians.
Of course, negative response to a rebrand is to be expected. Indeed, most renaming announcements are met with jeers. (Everyone’s a critic.) For my part, I keep the Zajonc effect in mind: the tendency of people, after repeated exposure to something they initially disliked, to like the thing more over time. (Zajonc does not rhyme with “tronc”; it rhymes with “science.”)
But, ladies and gentlemen, I am fairly confident that years of exposure will not make me fall in love, or even in like, with tronc. It’s a word that sounds silly at best, ugly at worst, a rhyming cousin of honk, zonk, bonk, and honky-tonk. The lack of capitalization is ridiculous and impractical. (How will, say, the Chicago Tribune, a tronc property, treat the name at the beginning of a sentence?) And it’s a bad portmanteau, a Frankenname soldered together from a heartless DisruptionSpeak buzzword, “online content” (not to mention “premium, verified content”). The story that’s meant to justify it is blistered with other soulless buzzwords: “leverages,” “innovative,” “personalized,” “interactive experiences.”
No, there’s nothing but jonc in that tronc.