In May of 2012, SPD (Society of Publication Designer) announced the winner for its annual “Magazine of the Year” award. For 15 years since 1997, SPD has continued to celebrate “the magazine with the best all-around design, imagery, graphics, illustration, and general visual magic”. This year’s winner, Bloomberg Businessweek, defeated competing contestants such as TIME and GQ to take the crown. With the growing number of magazines, differentiating and competing on content alone is not sufficient to lead the industry. In today’s multi-stimuli society, the importance of design becomes progressively evident.
Innovative and well-designed covers and inner-pages can become one of the best competitive advantages for a magazine. In a similar perspective, a brand’s visual identity (VI) system can act as the same. Bloomberg Businessweek’s differentiating designs enhanced its brand stature, elevating its brand esteem and knowledge.
In China, a similar trend is present. Chinese print media used to heavily concentrate on the appropriateness of content and neglect design. But now, an eye-catching layout or picture is increasingly essential. For magazines, creative layout and pleasing cover design are gradually becoming the focal points.
A great Chinese example would be CBNWeekly. CBNweekly is positioned as a financial and business magazine accessible for ordinary people. This positioning provides the brand with a bigger and more diverse target. Besides a less technical approach in wording, CBNweekly highly values the design of their publication. Unlike most financial or business magazines in China, CBNWeekly’s cover designs are often in full color graphics instead of portrait photographs. The same consistent graphic style can also be found within the inner pages. CBNWeekly’s emphasis on design has altered the image of financial and business magazines, which were usually considered to be serious and boring in China. Through being innovative and design-centric, CBNWeekly was able to highly differentiate itself in the industry.
Whether it is magazine or brand, the significant of design is, without a doubt, important to one’s success.