Call me old-fashioned, if you will, but I consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to knowing what keeps a strong brand strong. And my opinion is that the recent decision by The New York Times Company to sell display advertising on the front page of its esteemed newspaper will weaken its perception as the leading brand of news source in the minds of consumers. In fact, by placing these unsightly, unfit-to-print ads across the bottom of page one, the newspaper takes a critical step away from one of the things that has differentiated it from any number of other newspaper brands – the considered exclusion of commercial space on the front page; among major American newspapers, a distinction held by only The Times and The Washington Post. Yes, yes, I understand that this step was deemed necessary as a way of making up lost revenue in a climate in which ad revenues for all newspapers are plummeting. However, my feeling is that short-term financial gain resulting from this action will not outweighs the loss of their simple all news front page visual differentiator. These are hard times for all organizations, especially those that count on advertising revenue to support operations. But The Times should take a page out of this traditionalist’s branding book and reconsider putting paid-for news that does not fit the promise of its brand on its front page.