Your brand collateral is the most important opportunity to talk about your product or service. But getting your target audience to read your brochure, or catalog cover-to-cover isn’t always easy.
That’s why so many businesses have found that branded magazines are a unique way to pique audiences interest with relevant content and information, while reinforcing their brand message. It keeps them top of mind in a format that gets to their customers or target audience more frequently—be it annually, quarterly or monthly. What’s better—it’s in a form-factor that is both familiar and comfortable for the reader.
Many businesses have found that they can better engage with potential customers and increase brand loyalty by publishing a magazine of their own. According to a study conducted by the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA Advantage Study, 2007) on branded magazines (or as they call them, “customer magazines,”) – customers spend 25 minutes on average with such a publication, compared with a TV ad (30 seconds) and an internet ad (0.5 seconds). That’s 25 minutes immersed with a brand. And while in-house magazines were once considered glorified advertorials, today the use of subtle branding and genuine editorial content helps many successful businesses tactfully promote themselves. *Want to read more about the study? You can download the executive summary as a PDF here.
How does it work? Well, by presenting your business in a more editorial format you can:
- develop prospective customers and foster increased loyalty
- establish your organization or company as current on issues and trends
- position yourself as an expert in your field
- be a resource for information that is relevant to your audience
- reinforce your style and voice
- give depth and relevance to your brand in an environment you can control
Take for example a few major brands that publish their own magazines: British fashion label Asos’ self-titled magazine includes advertising for products that appeal to their demographic, such as cosmetics, high-end watches and perfumes. They also balance the promotion of their own products by pairing them with complimentary pieces and accessories that work with their customer’s style.
Coscto has it’s very own The Costco Connection, which combines information about what’s new at Costco with a mix of lifestyle and small business articles.
USAA’s USAA Magazine focuses on advice for becoming financially secure, with articles that appeal to it’s wide audience–young and old.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG Quarterly—delivers compelling profiles and medically stoked articles in a publication that hopes to bolster the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s efforts to ‘make cancer a global priority.’
Each of these do a great job of combining editorial content with promotional content for their products, services, mission or cause. One great thing you will notice about all of them too? They each reinforce their brand through styling and voice, but without seeming like pushy sales collateral.
So how do you even get started creating a brand magazine? Well there are a number of things to consider, the first of which is the actual branding. Much like traditional collateral, a brand magazine should be in line with your brand’s style and voice, but it where it differs is that a branded magazine needs to be subtle and controlled in how and when you promote your brand. A branded magazine should be designed with the customer’s tastes, interests, style and wants at the forefront; and weave in brand, product or service messaging where it actually enhances editorial and design.
Brand magazines can help you achieve your desired positioning in the minds of your stakeholders and customers. Whether your brand is edgy, luxurious, down to earth, straight to the point, or fun and whimsical, you want that same feeling to come across through your magazine. For most businesses, when you established your branding, you probably came up with words to describe your mission, voice, style and audience.
Put it Down on Paper
Now is the time to grab a piece of paper and start defining the sort of message you want to give to your customer. How do you want to establish your brand? What sort of content will you include, and how should you style it to be in line with your voice, mission and style? Use words to describe your brand and you customer– are they fashion-forward, politically-minded, edgy, traditional, mostly men or women, older, youthful etc?
These are your design principles and the list should be short and sweet. In as few words as possible, make clear the vision for the publication and any keywords people should keep in mind while designing.
Keep this list. Pin it to your wall. It will make for a great litmus test as you move forward and start creating. Every once and awhile go back to the list and be sure you are appealing to your audience and staying true to your brand.
Deciding on Color
This seems like a no-brainer, but coming up with colors that are true to your brand, that you use consistently throughout your magazine, is tougher that it seems. You may find sites like COLOURlovers helpful for exploring colors that work well with your logo or brand colors. Create a palette and save it. Then as you publish new issues, the consistent use of color will also reinforce your brand.
Now it’s time to define the typefaces to use: sizes, line height, spacing before and after, colors, headline versus body font, etc. With editorial content there is some flexibility in this, but defining a consistent style sheet will maintain the integrity of your publication and brand throughout the publication. Use fancy fonts sparingly, so that they maintain their impact and legibility on the page.
Create a Mock-up Magazine
This will eventually be your style guide, but at first it is a way to flesh out all of the style choices that you will want to make so that you can stay true to your brand. This will also help you keep a visual consistency not only throughout each publication, but also from publication to publication over time. Save this file and use it to start creating your magazine, then keep that original as a starting point for each subsequent issue–it will save you a lot of time!
Now Get Your Brand Out There
How do you get your brand out there? Have you come up with other unique ways to keep you brand top-of-mind with your customers? Does your organization or company have a branded magazine? Tell us about it below in the comments section!