Are you publishing for your business? Maybe you’re thinking about it, but not convinced publishing an in-house magazine is a good idea? Here’s all the reasons you should delve into the world of brand publishing for your business.

Growing market for original titles
Independent, non-traditional periodicals are booming, just look at the diverse range of choice on offer today in your average newsagents. Independent magazines are shaking things up, meeting the eclectic needs of those people who don’t feel mainstream magazines are for them anymore. Subscription services like Stack are riding the indy publishing wave, sending growing numbers of subscribers a surprise independent magazine each month. 

Before, prohibitive production costs would have stopped any plans to publish. Now, with the right idea there are tools available which are free, or relatively cheap to use. The idea of starting a brand magazine if you are a restauranteur, retailer or tech co. is now a real possibility.

Print is not dead
Despite many claiming the golden days of printing are over, there’s no escaping the fact that people still love to hold (and keep) physical products; they appreciate richly coloured photographs and illustrations, like to touch paper stock, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over special finishes like holographic, laser-cuts or metallic inks. Just look at the huge resurgence in vinyl record sales for proof of our love for tactile, nostalgic objects, over-riding all logic telling us that digital copies are more practical things to own.

St Thomas Court Group magazine, published quarterly 2009-present

St Thomas Court Group magazine, published quarterly 2009-present

Potential for profit
Magazine can be profitable as well as practical marketing tools - one of The Usual Studio's magazine design clients turned their quarterly medical magazine from self-promo tool into profit maker.

The first issue was launched July 2009 and was an early content marketing leader in it’s field. The magazine caught the attention of major pharmaceuticals and our client soon found they could add multiple full-page paid adverts, increase the page numbers and quality of content, attract talented writers and make a profit. Good going for what began as a simple content marketing tool. What opportunity is there for you to mirror this profit model for your business?

How much will readers pay?
If a magazine has great content, which is of value to the reader AND it looks superb, then you can expect readers to spend around £7-£14 per issue for a copy. Digital issues can be sold for a reduced rate, with a higher profit margin as there were no print costs if you go online only, although you may have to pay a small fee depending on the options you pick for distribution. Look at Issuu if you want to go down the digital only route.

If you're choosing to give your magazine away for free, weigh up the costs of creating a purely promotional magazine and its ROI compared to other paid marketing, such as: adverts, pay-per-click links and trade shows. 

Create a multi-sensory experience
Try and recall some of your favourite memories. I can almost guarantee that the senses will play a part in your ability to remember. Magazines are sensory by nature (they feel good, paper smells nice, they look great) which ultimately helps content, ideas and brands stick in people’s minds. For the scientific ones among, smell and sounds are important parts of our memory making process, thanks to the space they share in our brains Temporal Lobes. Read more about this in Eric Jensen’s 'Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching.'

Give your audience a blue-screen rest
More and more evidence is stacking up, on the effects too much screen time is having on our body and brain, especially in the 2-hour window just before sleep. Electronic devices intrude on our sleep time, bright lights increase alertness just when we need to switch-off, all of which affects our natural circadian rhythms, ultimately messing up our sleep-wake cycle. So, there are health reasons as well as business ones, for finding alternative ways to connect. 
With this knowledge in mind, I’ve been making an effort to switch habits and find something else to do post 9pm. Reading more (printed) magazines has been one of my solutions and I’ve got a bit addicted - a speedy survey of my bedside table, coffee table and living room and I’ve found 6 already.

Get your readers full attention
How long do people spend reading your content online? Do you have their full attention while they’re reading? If I’m reading a printed magazine, I can almost guarantee you have my sole attention, who can say the same thing when consumers are speed-reading articles online? Interrupted with notifications, calls and the next link just a click away.

By getting on their desks, into their living rooms and bags, brands make themselves harder to miss and easier to remember. With the right idea for a magazine, you become something different for them to read, something for them to loose themselves in, enjoy and learn from. 

If you are ready to add publishing a magazine to your marketing strategy, here’s what to do next:

  • Identify a niche idea, or little covered topic for your magazine to focus on
  • Decide whether you are are going to create a magazine people can buy, or a free magazine for your audience/contacts
  • Research their wants and needs, connect with them, in-person or online
  • Find talented writers, photographer/s - you might have unknown talent within your team, or hire freelancers
  • Find a designer or agency with editorial experience
  • Decide on size, paper numbers and frequency, are you going to publish a one-off for a special event, monthly, quarterly, annually?
  • Find an ethical printer, ideally one with publishing experience and a good track record - or ask your designer to do this for you
  • Print-on-demand, with no up-front commitment or worries of an office full of un-bought copies 
  • Make social media your distribution channel to find more readers
  • Work on an editorial calendar, this can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. A writer or editor will be happy to put together one of these for you
  • Start writing and get publishing

Don’t be put off by trying something new to market your brand. Magazine publishing is not the easiest option and certainly not everyone will do it, which is exactly why you should! While everyone else is busying themselves churning out more and more blog posts and newsletters, you could be focusing on creating something more weighty and meaningful that sticks in the minds of your audience longer.

Simple ways a magazine could fit into your marketing activities:

  • Create a one-off magazine to celebrate a milestone - like 5, or 10 years in business
  • Use a magazine to launch a new product, or service
  • At networking events or trade shows, hand out mini magazines instead of leaflets or business cards
Candid Magazine Issue 11, designed by The Usual Studio

Candid Magazine Issue 11, designed by The Usual Studio

As both a designer of magazines and lover of reading them, I’m probably a bit biased but I believe it gives me a good perspective on both the beauty and benefits of this type of branding. 

A good proportion of The Usual Studio’s work involves designing magazines: since 2009 we've designed a medical magazine every 3 months. And for the last year we’ve been designing high-end men’s lifestyle magazine, Candid too. We’ve just signed-off and sent Candid 13, The Design Issue to the printers, long live print!  


Charlee Sully, Brand Consultant, The Usual Studio
I work across design, ideas, strategy and content, writing about branding, design, innovation and entrepreneurship. I love sushi, tea's my cuppa of choice and BBC6 music's always on. Unlike a former housemate - I do find comedy funny. 

Twitter @TheUsualStudio