Publishing a magazine might seem an old-fashioned way of reaching readers in the age of blogging and email newsletters. But it’s still an excellent way to build a community and share ideas. In fact, digital publishing revenue is forecast to reach $8.46 billion in 2020. Now is an excellent time to publish a magazine. Or, in fact, to translate your printed offering into a digital format. But when was the last time you revisited your publication’s branding? Is it a little tired or dated? Don’t worry. Re-branding for publishing companies is within your grasp!

Read on for our seven-step guide.

1. Work Out Why You Need to Re-Brand

Re-branding shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. It’s not a case of wanting to change your colors and typography for fun.

Are you looking to reach a different target audience? Have you changed the focus of your output and you want to reflect that in your branding? Or are you just trying to stay current?

Decide on your ‘why’ before you start. Every other re-branding decision will be much easier once you have that in place.

Check out our case study about 605 Magazine for more advice on finding your ‘why’.

2. Know Your Audience

You should know your audience having completed the first step. It’s not enough to just know you appeal to millennials. What kind of millennials?

Dig into exactly who your readers are. What do they want out of life? What do they value?

Go beyond the traditional demographics around income, jobs, or location. Knowing who these people are on a personal level is more useful.

You’ll be able to find a tone of voice and a visual identity to resonate with them personally. It’s also easier to market your publication when you know who your readers are.

Develop a reader avatar. Base them on a real reader if you need to. Then make every re-branding decision with this person in mind.

Will they approve? Do your new choices work for them?

That’s because you can work out where they hang out and spend time there too. Market your publication where they already spend time.

3. Examine Your Competitors

Now you need to know what your competitors are doing. You don’t want to undertake a re-brand and find you’ve accidentally created a near-identical identity to your biggest rival.

Pinpoint their target audience. Is it the same as yours? Why have they made the branding decisions they have?

You’re not looking to copy them but you can glean insights from their branding. Especially if you know their circulation figures or social media reach.

Work out what’s working for them. Then see how you can implement that in your own branding. Likewise, avoid what isn’t working!

You can also pinpoint gaps in what’s being published. Are there topics in your niche that no one else is addressing?

Covering them yourself is a great way to stand apart from the competition. That can feed into your USP.

4. Create Your USP (Or ESP)

It’s vital to stand out from the crowd and determining your USP is one way to do that. A USP is your unique selling point. It’s why a customer buys your magazine and not another.

It’s harder than ever to be unique considering the amount of competition in digital publishing. So you might find an ESP easier to create.

That’s an emotional selling point. What is the emotional connection you have with your readers?

Think about Coca-Cola. People have an emotional connection, often through childhood memories of the famous Christmas commercials.

Human emotions fall into four basic categories: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. Which ones will you appeal to?

5. Write a Mission Statement

A mission statement, or manifesto, is a great way to re-frame what your new brand stands for. It also keeps your creative team focused on this re-branding task.

It should stem from your USP. But your mission statement includes the benefit, or value, your publication has for your reader.

Your staff should feel they’re working in alignment with these brand values.

You won’t ever publish this mission statement. It’s for internal use only.

But it will infuse every element of your branding. Your readers will subconsciously pick up on these cues from your choice of font, tone of voice, or imagery.

If you’re not sure where to start, frame your statement as a promise. What do you promise to give to your readers?

Watch Simon Sinek’s famous ‘Start with Why’ TED talk for more guidance.

6. Publishing Companies Should Start Small

Changing the name of your publication is usually unnecessary. It’s the first thing your readers think of. You don’t want to lose all of the associations they’ve built up with your name over time.

Instead, small and subtle changes to your brand can be more powerful. Switching from a serif to a sans-serif font helps make your text feel more modern.

Perhaps you’ll include fewer subheads on the cover to look less cluttered. Or you’ll use the same size and font for all subheads so they don’t compete with your main story.

Refreshing the type of images you use can also have a strong effect. Will you use a color filter to give them the same feel or tone?

7. Decide Which Brand Elements You’ll Change

The brand doesn’t just refer to fonts and the style of the masthead. These are often the ‘small’ changes we covered in the previous step.

But your brand can also refer to the type of adverts you carry. The editorial approach and the tone of voice of the content contribute to the brand image.

You might keep the visual elements but change these authorial elements to appear more modern.

Your brand even covers how you offer subscriptions so read our digital publishing report for the latest in marketing information.

A Re-Brand Can Be a Rebirth

Now you know why a re-brand can be so helpful for publishing companies. And you know how to carry out that kind of re-fresh work!

Make sure you get feedback from your team at every step before anything is signed off. Consider running focus groups among your readers to find out their thoughts.

It’s a good way to avoid any costly errors or alienating your readership.

Are you looking to make the switch from print to digital publishing as part of your re-brand? Feel free to get in touch and we’ll get you started.