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Is a Magazine the Right Medium for Your Brand?

Is a Magazine the Right Medium for Your Brand?

Seeking the customer-centric experience that only a magazine can bring

While the hectic, cluttered landscape of the digital world makes establishing meaningful relationships and trust challenging at times, the connection that a reader can establish with a physical magazine is always intimate and powerful.

The special characteristics of print – its tactility, its evocative scent and its enduring nature – mean we connect with it in a different way. We return to it over and over. We share it with friends and family. And we store it for posterity. 

Print creates emotional connections

Terri White, editor-in-chief of Empire, is a passionate print advocate. She argues that the visceral power of holding a magazine in your hands beats the ephemeral nature of digital hands down.

In 2018, White told The Drum: “Brands should hire great storytellers, let them tell their fantastic stories. Invest in them. Invest in great photography. See beyond the transaction – strive to create a robust, emotional bond with the audience. I believe that everyone ultimately buys with their heart, not their head. Capture their heart, and they’ll buy whatever you’re selling – whether that’s a subscription to a magazine or a top in the sale.”

Rather than simply renting out a page in someone else’s publication, brands are seeing renewed potential to establish long-term dialogues and relationships with their audiences by creating their own magazines.

It’s the desire to create this emotional and physical connection with their audience which is inspiring brands to return to the printed medium. But companies are leveraging this medium in a different way.

Rather than simply renting out a page in someone else’s publication, brands are seeing renewed potential to establish long-term dialogues and relationships with their audiences by creating their own magazines.

We saw in 5 Examples of Successful Print Magazines Published by Brands that several successful brands are refusing to consign the magazine to the dustbin of history. While print magazines might be taking a nosedive in terms of publishing product, they are seeing a renaissance as a content marketing tool.

Could a print magazine be part of your content marketing strategy?

Working with a magazine format is very different from working with a blog or other forms of digital communication. The magazine needs to be customer-focused and offer real value for consumers. But it also needs to embody the values of the brand it represents.

Editorial decisions, therefore, can be make or break.

Producing a brand magazine is also a big investment in terms of time and resources. Talented creatives, authors and editors are required. To create a magazine for your brand is to create an editorial brand in itself. It needs to be given an editorial identity and tone – one which meshes with your larger brand identity.

The magazine needs to be customer-focused and offer real value for consumers. But it also needs to embody the values of the brand it represents.

When deciding to commit to such a large project and, potentially, investment, a brand needs to have a very clear vision about what it wants to do with its magazine. But how do you know whether your brand equity will benefit from the very customer-centric experience that a magazine can bring?

There are several elements to consider: 

  • Start with your buyer personas and consider whether they would see value in the format. If so, how you would deliver such long-form content to them? 
  • Define the goals of the project. What does success look like? How can you deliver on those goals?
  • How does the print magazine interact with the other elements of your content marketing strategy?

If you think there is potential in the medium for your audience, you then need to consider how the medium can give voice to your brand.

A powerful branding tool

To leverage the brand magazine format effectively, your company’s values must be reflected in the editorial decisions you make. 

We saw how Red Bull’s magazine clearly reflects its brand values despite having very little to do with the product itself. Instead, the magazine features articles on extreme sports, urban music and outdoor pursuits that reflect the action, adventure and thrill-seeking personality of the brand.

Hush clothing takes a similar approach to the magazine it sends out to customers with their purchase. Rather than sending a sales brochure of the latest collection, it sends a lightweight but large-format magazine that features lifestyle, travel, musical playlists, cultural and book reviews and recipes. Some fashion is included, but very little. Instead, the retailer is taking the opportunity to strengthen what White called that “robust, emotional bond with the audience”.

A powerful marketing tool

By choosing brand messaging over product promotion, Hush has taken a different approach to many other clothing retailers – and stands out as a result. The magazine says: “Here’s a brand that really considers what I like and the way I live.”

The couple behind the brand, Mandy Watkins and Rupert Youngman, told the BBC that the company’s websiteand catalogues feature lots of lifestyle magazine content in order to engage as much as possible with its customers.

Youngman, who owns his own publishing firm and previously worked as a journalist, explains that the decision grew from him wondering how he could support his wife’s business: “Hush is very editorial. Mandy was keen for it not just to be about product; it’s about the lifestyle that goes with it.”

It’s just one reason why their business is growing strongly; annual revenues rose by 60% through 2017, while profits tripled. Through 2018, revenue growth increased to 74%. 

And here’s where the real consideration comes in: what could a magazine offer your brand in terms of value and return?

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