Many brands are challenged with agreeing on how their publication’s identity should fit within their overall brand strategy. What it all comes down to is that every department within an organization, including marketing and publishing, are all focusing their efforts on the same brand mission.

Arm yourself with the ammunition needed to overcome this battle of the marketing and publishing silos and work together to design your publication with a strategy that speaks volumes about your brand.

Closing the Gap Between Marketing and Publishing

Whether you’re launching a new magazine or refreshing your organization’s current one, it’s important to determine what value your magazine is offering that your other marketing touch points are not. When aligning your publication and brand strategy, you don’t have to necessarily recreate the wheel—especially when there’s an even ebb and flow of information between the marketing and editorial teams.

Forbes CMO Practice released a report in 2015, which explains how publishing has emerged as a critical marketing discipline that is essential for the branding evolution. In the report, 93% of CMOs agree that their organizations must develop a publishing function to execute their growth agenda.

“The bottom line for marketers is if you want to grow, you better become a publisher.” – Stephen Diorio, Chief Analyst for the Forbes CMO Practice

A brand magazine offers a niche opportunity to extend the ideas, leadership and trends of your organization by positioning it as a valuable resource, not a gimmicky self-promotion tool. An article by MagCloud addresses how to deliver your brand in an editorial world:

  • Reach prospective audiences while nurturing deeper brand loyalty with current ones
  • Stay atop of the latest developments within your industry through original articles
  • Differentiate your brand as a true expert among competitors with current topics
  • Speak to your audience’s interests
  • Hone in on your brand’s established style and voice to inspire the magazine

Talk these ideas over with all departments within your organization. If you’re going to deliver a new branded touchpoint to engage with your target audience, reinforce consistency by ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Brand vs. Brand Identity: Not the Same Thing

The print medium allows audiences to interact with your content at their own pace—it’s designed to savor. While your content is the centerpiece of the magazine, it’s important to weave in your branded elements to influence its design.

Before we jump ahead to designing a magazine that aligns marketing and publishing strategy, let’s break down the significance of branding and brand identity. The two are individual components that must sync to elicit a visual and psychological relationship for audiences.

Branding – an experience

  • Mission, core values, vision, voice
  • Psychological relationship
  • Intangible – emotional aspect of brand

Brand identity – what we see

  • Colors, fonts, logos, graphic elements, imagery
  • Helps create user-experience
  • Tangible – face of the brand

Your brand’s core identity is the connecting piece that aligns every marking touchpoint, including the magazine, by leveraging its set of branded elements to create branded applications.

  • Brand Application: Website, emails, blog, magazine, newsletter, events, webinars, swag, videos and direct mail
  • Brand Elements: Logo, shapes, tone, style, imagery, tagline, voice, colons and fonts
  • Core Identity: Mission, vision, values, goals and brand story

So now that we have our publishing and branding bases covered, let’s look at how we’ve worked with magazines to create an identity that aligns with their overall parent brands.

Common Goal: Engage Audiences Driven by Strategy

When thinking about the basics of visually identifying a brand, what are the first ideas that come to mind? Coca Cola is recognized globally for its distinct typography, Facebook is known for its predominately blue color palette and who can forget about National Geographic’s iconic logo? So we broke down how to align brand and publication strategy into three “how’s”: fonts, colors and logo usage.

1. Fonts

NACS magazine, the flagship publication for The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, utilizes a series of serif, san serif and condensed fonts to help readers navigate a hierarchy of content within the magazine.

2. Colors

Business Aviation Insider is the official bi-monthly magazine for National Business Aviation Association. The magazine leverages its official primary and secondary color palettes to brand specific departments within the publication.

3. Logo

Demand magazine was a brand new initiative that Bates Creative worked on with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ ASME Global Development Review team.

The quarterly publication is chock full of interesting nuances that deviates from standard publication design. The print design uses only one color, one typeface, custom illustrations and no photography – deliberate design decisions made to mirror how engineers are working to do more with less around the globe. Each issue of the publication is designed around a carefully selected pop color that is leveraged to create the illustrations for each article. The unique design approach taken for this case study-focused publication helps ASME excite readers and inspire engineers working in global development.

To limit competition for real estate on the magazine’s front cover, the ASME organization logo is strategically placed in the “From the Editor” opening department.

Publishing magazines do not happen overnight. They require in-depth, harmonized strategies from your marketing and editorial teams to determine how your magazine fits into the big picture of your overall brand. How does it speak to your brand’s core identity? How will it elicit a visual and psychological connection with your audience?

Before reinventing the wheel with a new initiative, break down the silos within your organization and discover what resources are available that you may not have known otherwise.


This information was originally presented by Bates Creative’s CEO and President, Debbie Bates-Schrott, and Bates Creative’s Art Director, Jen Fose, during their session “Ammunition Your Brand Needs to Align Publication and Brand Strategy” at the Association Media & Publishing 2017 Annual Meeting.