Do publishing brands these days seem a little confusing? Maybe it’s because of all the consolidation in the marketplace and the need to start fresh. Maybe it’s because of the rise in e-publishing and the need to convey a sense of “new media.”

Numbers are big with publishing brands today. From 1105 Media (formerly 101 Communications) to 8020 Publishing, publishers are opting for a number as part of or even in place of a name. We’re no different: the magazine we originally launched to compete with Folio: was called M10 Report and our company name is Red 7 Media.

What’s the significance of your brand? Many city and regional magazines have taken their telephone area codes as their names, (such as 417 in Missouri). That makes sense, and has an immediate, recognizable significance for their audience. But does 1105 really grab your attention? When we started M10, the first question we always heard was, “What’s M10?” In a weird way it actually helped, because it started a conversation about who we were and how we were different from Folio:. But don’t think we weren’t relieved after we bought Folio: and could stop having that same conversation over and over.

After Wasserstein bought out Primedia Business for $385 million in August 2005, the company embarked on a self-described “intense,” months-long decision process for a company name before deciding on “Prism Business Media.” In an e-mail to employees, Primedia Business CEO John French said of the name, “It needs to be Memorable…Unique…Sustainable…Positive…Protectable as a trademark. Prism—like transmitting or reflecting light, like a ray of light passing through a prism. Prism is a reflection of what we represent within the organization and the industry. . .Carry it positively to the marketplace and avoid the inclination to say ‘why didn’t we name this or that.’”

Of course, in December 2006, shortly after Prism’s purchase of Penton Media, Prism switched its name to Penton. “If you think about it, Prism is a newly established brand with a brand new name and Penton has been around,” Reed Phillips, managing partner at M&A broker DeSilva & Phillips, told Folio at the time. “For that reason, it made sense to go with that name. Prism doesn’t really have any strong recognition yet in the marketplace.”

CEOs and owners fret long and hard over their company names but ultimately it’s their products that establish the brand, not the cute corporate name.