Zondervan Will Offer Own Brand

June 5, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — After 70 years in business, Zondervan, a publisher of Christian reading materials, has decided to brand a tradition in business and a way of life, under the company’s name, new logo and new brand promise.

About two years ago when Zondervan executives were looking to brand their Bibles, the company conducted a study on Bible buying and asked customers, “What comes to mind when you think of Bible brands?”

The information Zondervan officials discovered related what consumers and retailers already believed the company stood for. What they found was that people believed Zondervan and its products were trustworthy, dependable, had a high integrity and operational intelligence.

“When we discovered that, we decided if this is what they expected then we better make sure we don’t disappoint them,” said Bruce Ryskamp, president and CEO of Zondervan. “Our research indicates that Christian consumers recognize and trust the Zondervan name. It’s a brand with a strong heritage that stands for quality, integrity and editorial excellence. Yet we have never actively emphasized the Zondervan name. That will change from this point forward.”

Since its beginning in 1931, Zondervan has looked to fulfill its mission to meet the needs of people, glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles. This mission also served as a checklist in making decisions about what the company would publish. “If it didn’t pass every test, then we wouldn’t publish it,” Ryskamp said.

With this mission in mind and a need to continue to uphold how the public views Zondervan, the branding process has begun. “It is important to us to maintain a sense of continuity,” said Ryskamp. “If you open a can of Coke you expect it to taste the same. If it tastes like orange juice or root beer you loose faith in the product. We want to keep that same continuity in our products. While our mission and Christian focus remain the same, we intend to place more emphasis on the Zondervan name and what it stands for.”

The changes that will be made will be both dramatic and subtle, said Mark Rice, senior director of corporate branding.

“The two biggest changes we hope to make are being more active and consistent. We want to be active and not let people guess what we are, but tell them in the appropriate manner. On the other hand we want to be consistent and make sure that everything follows our brand promise — from where the logos are placed, the colors used, to how we answer the phone and send faxes,” said Rice.

“Combining our mission and brand promise, we need to look at our material and make sure it embodies integrity, trustworthiness and meets the needs of people,” he added.

Over the next three years Zondervan will work to put the branding process in motion and slowly filter new ideas and new looks into its business strategy.

One of the most visible aspects of the new branding process will be a new logo. The old logo, Zondervan Publishing House, was the same logo as HarperCollins Publishers Inc., parent company of Zondervan. However, the two did not share the same mission and Zondervan wanted to back up its logo with its own mission, so it was time for a change.

The new logo sports new coloring with all lettering in light blue, and a new style. “When companies have a heritage like this, the most visible part of it is its logo, and that must reflect what the brand means and stands for,” Rice explained. The company also announced its new tagline “Discover Life in Christ,” and that it will now be known as simply Zondervan, rather than Zondervan Publishing House.

“We are proud of our logo and tagline, but this branding strategy is much more than just a new look for Zondervan,” said Ryskamp. “Branding is an ongoing focus and we will continue to stand behind the Zondervan brand with exceptional resources, systems and services for the Christian market. With this increased visibility comes added responsibility, and Zondervan is committed to fulfilling our brand promise to authors, retailers, partners, consumers and the industry.”

The publishing house was founded in 1931 by brothers P.J. and Bernie Zondervan and went on to become the world’s largest Bible publisher. The company first published the New International Version (NIV) New Testament in partnership with the International Bible Society in 1973 and the complete NIV Bible in 1978.

In 1988 Zondervan became a division of HarperCollins, one of the largest publishers in the world. Today, the company is a leading international Christian communications company, producing best-selling and award-winning Bibles, books, children’s products, software, audio, video, multimedia, and a broad line of gift products.

“We are not leaving our past behind,” said Rsykamp, “but instead building on it to make our future even better.”

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