Bell Media is rebranding its Sympatico.ca portal as The Loop to emphasize it’s a content destination for consumers, and not just a search portal.
“Sympatico was ready for the next stage in its evolution – the bringing together of Bell Media’s content expertise with the incredible digital delivery opportunities of Sympatico,” said Catherine MacLeod, vice-president, specialty channels for Bell Media.
In an interview with Marketing, MacLeod said the time had come to market Sympatico more strongly as a consumer brand. A year after its 2009 split with the now competing portal MSN.ca, Sympatico launched a consumer-facing campaign designed by Rethink to promote its channel offerings.
However, MacLeod said many Canadians still see Sympatico as a service provider, not a news and information portal.
“A lot of people associate Sympatico with an ISP and we wanted to steer the ship in the right direction,” MacLeod said. “We’ll transition it, so it will be called The Loop by Sympatico for quite some time because we have an incredibly loyal online audience and we don’t want to alienate those people. We want them to feel like this is Sympatico but even better.”
The branding switch, set to take place on Dec. 13, will see the portal’s current suite of channel offerings covering film, sports, travel, lotteries, gaming, fashion and other areas streamlined into channels called Living, Style, Showbiz and News.
This means some current Sympatico properties, such as Fashionism or InMovies, are set to be rolled into The Loop’s master branding, losing their stand-alone status in the portal’s architecture. Other channels that don’t obviously fit under the four new pillars, such as Autos, are being examined as stronger stand-alone brands to be fed traffic by The Loop.
“Autos is an incredible opportunity,” she said. “We can spin it off into its own site, give it its own brand. We have a capital investment to build research tools that dealerships and manufacturers are asking for… That will be the next big thing that we do.”
Sympatico also has a handful of third-party content partnerships, such as its co-publishing deal with Best Health (a Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada property) that sees content sharing between the two properties.
Sympatico’s visitors can also expect more video content from Bell Media’s other properties and personalities. However, MacLeod said that video content won’t just be “recycled” material from Bell’s other properties. Bell’s television brands, for example, promote their shows online with video content. Sympatico, MacLeod said, needs to offer something different.
“The idea is not to just recycle Bell Media personalities with clips of eTalk content,” she said. “I wanted Danielle [McGimsie, an eTalk reporter] to be more herself and bring a different take on entertainment buzz… We have to differentiate ourselves on the web. There has to be something that makes people want to go there everyday and stay when they get there.”
The new name, logo and branding were developed by Bell Media’s in-house creative agency.