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Follow the Yellow Brick Road

5/25/2006 12:00:00 AM


“Toto, we're home. Home! And this is my room, and you're all here. And I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and—oh, Auntie Em—there's no place like home!”--Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz 

I’m a little bit obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. And so, as I promised to discuss the topic of changing our name back to Natural Home this week, I just can’t help myself from weaving in references to my favorite film. (Some days, it’s all about keeping myself amused.)

More than a year ago, a consultant (call her Glinda the Good Witch) suggested that we change our name from Natural Home to Natural Home & Garden to broaden our newsstand reach. With this name change, I wrote back in the March/April 2005 issue, we hoped to “let everyone know that within these pages is a wealth of information on all aspects of living in a home—from building to gardening and beyond.” This name change would attract hundreds of thousand of new readers, and we would all live happily ever after…you know, over the rainbow.

What our consultant (and, consequently, we) didn’t take into account was that we were already doing all of that and—most importantly—our loyal readers really liked the name Natural Home. Frankly, so did I. It rolls off the tongue much more easily, and it doesn’t have all those connotations with other magazines.

And, quite honestly, feedback about the name change was more negative than positive. (Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!) Some readers wrote and begged us not to become a gardening magazine. Others were concerned that we were moving into the realm of the more slick, mainstream home and garden magazines, and that’s not what they wanted. Many readers just seemed confused.

About six months after we took on that new name, we were acquired by Ogden Publications. (They’re based in Topeka, Kansas. So that one’s just too easy.) Some of the folks at my new place of employment were as perplexed as our readers about why we had complicated a good, solid name by adding “& Garden.” They suggested we change it back, and I balked at first—in my own self-interest. “We’re going to look like idiots!” I warned. Well, mostly I was going to look like an idiot, as I’m the one who gets to eat my printed and widely distributed words from a year ago.

In the end, though, my heart told me that admitting we made a mistake and going back to Natural Home was the right thing to do. It’s what readers want. It’s what I want. So we clicked together our ruby slippers and landed squarely and happily, in Kansas, as Natural Home. (I’ve always wondered why Glinda didn’t just tell poor Dorothy that all she had to do was click those shoes before she embarked upon the Yellow Brick Road, but that’s a conversation for another time.)

Toward the end of their journey to Oz, the Tin Man asks Dorothy what she’s learned from her adventure. “If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard,” Dorothy replies. “Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?”

Right on, Dorothy.

And it really is good to be Home.

P.S. All the old email and website addresses will still work, but we’ll officially start using as of June 1.

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