Can Rupert Murdoch's new Digital Newspaper, "The Daily", become a Successful Brand?

Rupert Murdoch has announced the creation of a new digital newspaper exclusively for the iPad and other tablet devices. It will not be available to standard Internet users, and will cost iPad and other tablet users 99ยข a week or $4.25 a month. The real question is a fundamental brand question… will The Daily represent an attractive enough branded alternative to sustain a business?

The challenge for all news providers is to figure out how to monetize their content. Because the Internet provides so many ways to get free news and information, up until now users have found ways to get what they need free. The question is whether an assemblage of the days news, delivered on an iPad, under the banner of The Daily is unique enough.

Brands that are successful over time provide something that is both unique and differentiated, and also answers a key target audience need. Great brands in any category have figured out how to differentiate themselves so that consumers develop a preference… and that preference is confirmed every time a consumer uses the product. Said another way, you can’t just say you are good, you must prove it each time a consumer has an interaction.

The available information is that The Daily iPaper will be much like a newspaper, assembled every evening as a digest of the day’s news. While there may be updates, it is intended, at least initially, as a static print edition rather than having a rolling news format. If this is true, I don’t really get how they will be unique, or provide me with anything I don’t already get. And, The Daily can’t simply rely on the coolness of the iPad as a certainty. Technologically, other tablet brands are catching up.

There are several trends in play here. First, physical newspaper circulations are down globally with a few exceptions. Second, there has been some serious consolidation going on over the past year or so. Bloomberg bought Businessweek from McGraw-Hill, Newsweek is merging with the Daily Beast, etc. Third, the shift to doing things digitally is moving at a faster pace than one could have expected. In my profession, I hardly know anyone who doesn’t get their news and information digitally. Print is a supplement, but not as important a primary driver as in the past. Not to mention kids today who turn to digital first as their source.

But while efficiency and technology are driving the creation of The Daily, I am concerned that it may not make it. Murdoch has to build this consolidated information base, and is seriously committed to do so. One can envision the multitude of brand extensions off that content base, but the first step is building a brand that is truly unique and robust enough to have consumers shell out money in a universe of free content. They appear to be banking on convenience via the iPad association. He has hired some of the best talent in the business, and their mandate should be to develop something unique. My suspicion is that The Daily will be forced to take on a strong perspective on the news (much like the jaded news programs in the US today) in order to secure and grow an audience. This is today’s reality. But in the end, the challenge of The Daily brand is in interesting and costly experiment.

So here’s my question to readers. What must Murdoch and his team do to make The Daily a strong brand that can survive? Please post your thoughts for discussion and debate.