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Why Phase Out "Chowhound" Brand?

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Great work with the upgrade, guys! I'm particularly looking forward to checking out the mobile side!

I notice that all Chowhound discussion is now taking place under a giant "CHOW" branding logo, rather than "CHOWHOUND", and that there's no mention of Chowhound aside from a few sub-menus.

According to Alexa (<http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/chow.co...), 79% of Chow.com traffic stems from chowhound.chow.com (and I assume much of the remainder stems from the oft-visited chowhound profiles, which live at chow.com rather than at chowhound.chow.com). Given that, it's surprising to see things tip, branding-wise, even more steeply toward the CHOW end.

I'm staunchly in favor of whatever's necessary, branding-wise, to ensure that this operation continues. CBS needs to turn a profit if the lights are to remain on, and I'm all for that!

But there's nearly no Chowhound branding left at this point. In fact, it wouldn't take much effort at all to purge the tiny bit currently remaining. And I'm curious about the rationale, given the brand's enduring popularity, and the fact that it accounts for the vast, vast majority of traffic.

  1. Not to be punning but isn't this a case of the tail wagging the dog?

    1. good catch! Curious myself

      1. Hi Jim, Thanks for your words of encouragement about the redesign efforts! In terms of the Chowhound Discussions as a sub nav item on the larger CHOW header, it's been like that since January of this year. I wonder what made that change noticeable for you now? Is it something else about the redesign? In terms of the site itself, Chowhound has the same level of branding that it has all year. In fact, we're working on our first marketing campaign right now for Chowhound. It's long overdue that people appreciate the brand for the powerhouse it is!

        Meredith

        27 Replies
        1. re: mudaba

          Hi, Meredith!

          I didn't notice the switch in January. If I had, I'd have raised the issue then. Obviously, the occasion of a major redesign invites closer inspection!

          So I'm still not understanding the decision. And I think it's something that deserves to be publicly explained, because, of course, the folks you're addressing here ARE the Chowhound brand. They made it popular, and infused it with its hard-won reputation for savvy and passion (I helped, but I'm only one hound!).

          So why the move, regardless of when it occurred, to deemphasize this brand, which means a lot to them, and which accounts for much of the traffic? it seems strangely counterproductive....?

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Back in Jan 2012, we wanted to streamline the navigation and move "saved boards" into the top nav. We felt that it was really important for users to be able to get to the Chowhound homepage as well as their saved boards from any page of the site. That's why we made the nav change we did!

            1. re: mudaba

              Hmm, that didn't really compute for me (though thanks for taking time to reply). But, anyway, you're answering a question I didn't ask. I'm not asking why you changed any one particular banner. I'm asking why there's been such a sharp deemphasis of the Chowhound brand (which took a particularly bold stride with this one particular decision).

              This deemphasis has been a death of a thousand cuts. It's been sufficiently slow and gradual to evade notice by most users (even I didn't notice the header change). But at this point, there's extremely scant Chowhound branding here, and what little remains could be completely expunged quite easily.

              And I'm not clear on why it's reached that point. Insisting that you respect and value the brand is one thing, but actions are another. Take away the temporary "Chowhound has a new look" banner currently atop this page, and this would very clearly be a CHOW discussion forum, with a few errant mentions of this mysterious "chowhound" thing, whatever the heck that is.

              It surely isn't accidental. And it doesn't seem to make sense, in light of traffic and in light of love for the brand. So, again: why?

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Dear Jim,

                Could you please create a new site that fosters a community of folks who have a passion for cooking and sharing their experiences with like-minded individuals.

                Though I only discovered CH in late 2010, I can't help but feel that recent changes are solely focussed on "visitors" vs posters. Ironically it's the posters that are providing the ultimate value and to disregard their (our) interests is an exercise in futility IMHO.

                Jim, if you build it, we will come. Pretty please?

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Breadcrumbs,

                  Why? I already built it!

                  The decisions of higher-ups are not what make Chowhound what it is. It's about the community.

                  You weren't around back then, but this site was, at one point, nearly falling apart, software-wise. It was still great, because of the community. At another point, it was nearly broke (thanks, CNET/CBS, for saving us!). It was still great....because of the community.

                  This community has always worked within obstructions of various sorts. And you know what Nietzsche says!

                  In the end, nice, smart people swapping food tips will create awesomeness. Regardless of the trappings. So concentrate on the people, and pitch in your own awesomeness, and ignore what you don't like!

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    ...ignore I can do. But this grey on grey hurts my eyes and the site now looks like an app. An app layout is not at all user friendly for folks who use a laptop or desktop.

                    As I said in the feedback thread on the new design. I'm saddened.

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      You'll get used to it. But also consider building your own custom style sheet. I'm not expert on that, but if you have a tech-savvy friend, they can surely help you out, and pretty easily, too. Or maybe some user will create one.

                      I'm ok with it, myself.

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        Thanks Jim. I have no idea what a custom-style sheet is but imagine that it's something that's created to customize a view for personal preferences.

                        IMHO, it shouldn't be that hard to contribute here and as much as I love the site, unless the grey on grey is addressed, I won't be able to continue to contribute here.

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            The gray on gray is a real problem,for me.If I could solve it using skeet and trap tools,lenses it's not imaginary.
                            I will fiddle with the colour,contrast until It's right for me.As nearly as I can tell GOOGLE CHROME and another program we have have a fix without the requirement of a rocket scientist.

                            1. re: lcool

                              Let me know what works for you; this interface hurts my eyes and my head.

                              1. re: mcf

                                Greetings mcf

                                Do? so far not much more than hobble along.The gray on gray,trimmed in gray is efffing horrid!
                                greygarious in another thread/post tagged it "SNOW BLINDNESS"
                                SPOT ON
                                At 67 I don't wear/require spectacles for reading or distance,confirmed in my last flight physical,October 2012.
                                EXCEPTION Shooting skeet and trap tinted eye protection is the bees knees in all light conditions.There is a reason the clay bird is BLACK and orange,the shooter and the scorer both need to see the damn thing in gray,glare,overcast and no horizon conditions.
                                And now HERE on CHOWHOUND ,wearing a pair of #3pink/#1gray tint lenses for vision conditions WITHOUT getting a headache.
                                AND trying to be patient with a GUN DOG that wants to know,WHEN ARE WE LEAVING , ALREADY!! As far as she's concerned I am sitting on my ass right now doing NOTHING.Glasses+gun+dogs and we leave is normal,just glasses around the house has turned her inside out with frustration.
                                I have some contrast tools in GOOGLE CHROME and WINDOWS and will get into them more when I am not quite so pissy about this gray on gray,trimmed in gray.

                  2. re: Jim Leff

                    I'm not sure what you're referring to exactly, in terms of branding removal, but everything we are working on these days is to refresh and modernize the Chowhound brand. There will be many more changes and improvements to Chowhound in the months ahead, as we are actually MORE focused on this than we have been in the past few years. In fact, I have to cut this short because I'm about to go to a Chowhound marketing meeting!

                    1. re: mudaba

                      Be careful about marketing Chowhound too widely. Its entire value lies in the distilled savvy of its users, many of whom have acculturated over the course of many years here.

                      Compare to Yelp (which is also useful...I don't feel competitive, I use both for different purposes), where maximal crowds are recruited and encouraged to spray their opinions, many of which are unsavvy or worse (e.g. dishonest).

                      The purpose of the Chow/Chowhound partnership was to create an editorial front end in part to shield Chowhound from dilution. By gradually rebranding Chowhound to CHOW, and by choosing to widely market the forums, you risk unwinding the underlying dynamics. And that's very dangerous, as entropy in communities can't be reversed.

                      But that's absolutely your right! And I'll stay here and keep using it so long as the rest of the hound regulars do. Hopefully for a long, long time!

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        ps CBS,

                        bigger is not better.

                      2. re: mudaba

                        >>> because I'm about to go to a Chowhound marketing meeting! <<<

                        Hmmmm . . . I wonder why that's not a CHOW marketing meeting.

                      3. re: Jim Leff

                        Yes, it's been going on for quite a while. Chow is the "winner" and all the millions of posts representing thousands of contributors that comprise Chowhound is most definitely the loser.

                        The "editorial side" (which, frankly I never understood, though I know the history of Chow Magazine) has won out. Maybe 10 articles a month and a couple videos trumps thousands of posts by knowledgeable, well-meaning, passionate people.

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Winners and losers? I don't see it. Chowhound comments and highlights are a part of CHOW. There is far more Facebook & Twitter links, far more videos (& I attribute the video increase to new staff decisions). There are less CHOW writers or CHOW video bloggers. The only "winner" I see having lasted is Supertaster who promotes FB & Twitter more than CHOW.

                          Neither CH or CHOW has been able to sit on their hands and enjoy the design or Engineering aspects of the entire site for more than a month. Many grasshoppers!

                          1. re: HillJ

                            What direction are the grasshoppers headin'?
                            At this point, I'm in.

                            1. re: escargot3

                              Wer'e watching Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee over at Crackle.com

                          2. re: MplsM ary

                            I feel like the smart, precise recipes and editorial style (along with the non-profit element) of Cooks Illustrated would have been better suited to engender the smart, passionate (and yes, older) demographic that made Chowhound so valuable to begin with.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              Cooks Illustrated ,???non profit,since when??

                          3. re: Jim Leff

                            >>>It surely isn't accidental. And it doesn't seem to make sense, in light of traffic and in light of love for the brand. <<<

                            Just curious, Jim. Do you still have any skin in the game?

                            1. re: Fowler

                              I'm not sure what that means. If you mean in terms of authority, no. I'm what I always was...an ardent chowhound looking to eat well!

                      4. re: mudaba

                        >>> It's long overdue that people appreciate the brand for the powerhouse it is! <<<

                        FWIW, the power in the brand is chowHOUND . . . not "Chow." "Ciao," perhaps . .. but not "Chow."

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Guys, that's what she's saying.

                      5. Of the 18+ 'Chowmeet' that I have attended or organized both in Canada and abroad. ALL PARTICIPANTS REFER TO THEMSELVES AS 'CHOWHOUNDERS'!!!!

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Whereas, if I ever attended one, I would refer to myself as "John". I don't define myself by the internet discussion boards I use.

                          2. Absolutely, Jim. This is making me sad. 12 + years as a 'hound and it seems to be turning into a 15th generation xerox of the first.