What “TBD” means to me

After a long time telling everyone the name of our new DC news site was to be determined, we announced today that the site will in fact be called “TBD.”

Now I’ve always felt that a brand name itself is not that important. All brands start at reputation zero. (Think back to how meaningless the brand “Google,” or the word “googol,” was to you in 1997.) It’s nice to have a catchy name. But the brand is defined over time by the value and experiences it provides. I’m happy to now have that brand we can start building.

So what does TBD mean now, and what will it mean as we build the brand?

To me, it speaks to the culture and attitude of the site — real-time news presented as a transparent process where users can participate and create, instead of an opaque finished product that readers are expected to just consume.

The name embraces the “beta culture” that I think we will cultivate — the principle that you launch something good enough, and you work with your users to constantly improve it. Everything is “TBD,” or subject to further development. (I titled my blog post announcing this new job as My Career v2.0 (beta) for that reason.)

So, let’s start beta-testing those ideas. What do you think of these, and what other principles do you think should define TBD? We’ll be setting up some official feedback channels, but feel free to comment here for now.

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  • http://lavrusik.com lavrusik

    It's simply genius. An emphasis on the constantly evolving news, and your approach to it. Sends a good message to the users and really defines the goal of the site.

  • http://twitter.com/dcborn61 David Heyman

    Jeff, we've never met, but I could have written your post myself. I was at Bell Atlantic when we changed our name…you can't imagine the blank stares when the word Verizon came down. It didn't mean anything, but it certainly does now.

    The only thing certain in the news business is that change is constant. The legacy press never bought into that (and many still haven't). Making change core to your DNA is a smart move.

    • jeffsonderman

      Thanks David. I can't take credit for coming up with the name, but I'm looking forward to helping build and define the brand this way.

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