Ekskluzivni intervju:

Kompromis in dobra revija ne gresta skupaj

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Si predstavljate, da naročite dostavo živil na dom, hkrati pa brezplačno dobite tudi njihovo revijo, ki zagotovo ni klasičen katalog? Si predstavljate trgovsko spletno podjetje, katerega poslovni moto je, da s tem, ko vam ni treba fizično v trgovino, prihranite kar nekaj časa? In zakaj ne bi tega privarčevanega prostega časa porabili za branje njihove revije?

 

To počne britanska spletna trgovina z živili Ocado, ki izdaja dve reviji: vsaka dva meseca tako imenovani revijalog, ki je kombinacija kataloga in revije, SHOP, in vsake štiri mesece revijo THIS. Ideja, namen in sama revija so dovolj velik razlog, da sem se o njej ekskluzivno za ta blog pogovarjal z glavno urednico na kreativni in komunikacijski agenciji August Media, Kitty Finstad. V omenjeni londonski agenciji urejajo tudi večkrat nagrajene korporativne revije, kot sta nepremičninska Completely London in IKEA Family Live. Pogovor objavljam kar v izvirniku, v angleščini, v njem pa med drugim pogledi uspešne urednice o korporativnih revijah kot marketinškem orodju, o pogumu naročnikov, o odnosu med naročnikom in agencijo, o pomembnosti dizajna idr.

Kitty Finstad, August Media

What was Ocado’s brief? How did they envision their magazine?
The way we explored and interpreted the brief was to first think about what sets Ocado apart from its competitors. It helped that many of us on the creative team have been customers for years – in fact, I did my first Ocado shop in 2003 and have been a loyal shopper ever since. So it was easy for us to identify what it is about the brand that makes it special. There are so many factors: excellent customer service, convenience with one hour delivery slots, a wide range of quality products, an innovative website, great value… all of which are great differentiators. But the ultimate benefit to customers is that they can reclaim literally hours of their lives every week by not going to the supermarket. They can shop when – and from where – it suits them. So we took that end benefit – extra time – and created content that presents surprising pages of inspiration, information and ideas to fill use those hours in a rewarding way.

How is Ocado as a brand present and presented in the mag?
The brand is a confident hum, rather than a shout, if that makes sense. Ocado is definitely present – it is, after all, the host of the title. We create content that fits with the brand’s ethos: it is a maverick brand with warm, human and ethical credentials. And therefore the content is a little bit surprising, and it also reflects all those brand differentiators, in a relevant way. Ocado is primarily an online retailer, so of course there are stories that inspire people to shop, whether that’s by profiling an interesting supplier or illustrating lifestyle content in a way that makes people want to get involved. But this is all sort of implied approbation. In a practical sense, we use a few instantly identifiable design elements to brand the publication as being from Ocado while at the same time being sympathetic to the overall look and feel of each layout.

How do you see customer magazines? What is their marketing power?
I’ve worked in customer magazines for more than a dozen years now, and while the breadth of brands using this medium to reach their customers has vastly expanded, the essence of content marketing is still basically the same: it’s about connecting with your customers through great storytelling that is relevant, authentic and resonant. It sounds like a bit of a cliché to those of us who know the medium well, but that ‘stickiness’ that comes with prolonged customer engagement is what customer magazines do best. It’s not really about the moment of purchase, but the long-term relationship that builds up to that moment. It’s the same sense of loyalty and trust that iconic newsstand magazines inspire in their readerships. It’s not by accident that Vogue, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Economist and Guardian Weekend have faithful readers and subscribers over whole lifetimes. And brands want to tap into loyalty mechanism.

How does your agency come up with content concept of a mag, or how did you come up with the ideas about THIS magazine?
Well, that would be telling! But seriously, each project is different in its planning, conceptualisation and execution. At August Media, we always say that we don’t do ‘one size fits all’ and we really mean that. So from the very first conversations with a client, we put our journalists’ hats on and start asking every question we can possibly think of so that we can hone and polish the brief before we get started. That brief is always at the front of our minds, but getting into the mindset of the reader – our client’s customer – is what drives the creative process. With THIS magazine, our brief was less prescriptive than we were accustomed to, which was actually quite challenging as a process. But once we had nailed the essence of the reader benefit – inspiring people to use their saved time wisely, surprisingly, creatively, the ideas flowed and flowed.

I find the covers of THIS magazine very attractive. They’re always positive, they always tell their readers how well and special they’ll feel because of reading this magazine. What was the creative idea behind it?
Because we work with themed issues – so far we’ve had CHANGE, SMILE and SHINE at the end of the masthead phrase ‘THIS MAGAZINE WILL MAKE YOU…’ – the cover images have always embodied a positive vibe that goes along with the optimistic themes. Because there are so many ideas packed into a slim 36 pages, we’ve consciously chosen images that serve as an enveloping, smile-inducing wrapping for all the good stuff that readers can find inside. Intriguing, witty and not what you might expect from a ‘supermarket magazine’.

THIS magazine (as well as other magazines produced by August Media) is effective and attracts readers not only because of relevant and great content, but also because of its design and other visual elements. Why is design crucial?
August Media is definitely an editorially led agency. For us that means original and creative ideas as a foundation from which to showcase glorious design. I’d say we have a high degree of visual literacy amongst our editors – I was really into photography in my early career, for example – and because we are magazine junkies, I think all of the creative people in the agency understand the crucial relationship between design and copy. Especially in print products, they absolutely must work together to draw the reader in and make a successful spread. But as a hook, design is everything: photography, illustration, navigation, typography, page furniture that turns a reader on or off in an instant. Get it wrong and they’ll never dive into read a feature, no matter how clever the idea or how beautifully written it might be.

How is THIS magazine produced? How much do editors and designers work together?
I’d love to say that it’s easy and we never encounter any obstacles, but I can tell you that the whole process is incredibly pleasurable because the creative team (and we are a small team on this project) is so devoted to THIS magazine – we believe in it. So we – editor, art director, editorial and creative directors, editorial assistant, picture researcher – spend a lot of time planning. We are very open to ideas contributed from people outside the team – that’s how you make sure everything’s fresh and avoids us becoming overly indulgent. We have to remember that even though we love making the magazine, we’re not making it for ourselves. We have readers and a client, who is very supportive and a dream to work with – there’s a high degree of trust in our relationship. We do a lot of brainstorming, research, honing of ideas, shaping into features, throwing things out and starting over again, and for this project in particular we are obsessed with not following what you might call a typical magazine flatplan and flow. We don’t have a front of book / features well / back end; instead we have consciously re-invented the flow with each issue – easier to do with this frequency – three times a year – it would be impossible on a monthly. This makes the execution of what might seem like a nice but not earth-shatt ering feature idea seem fresh. After all, we’re not trying to be avant-garde, we’re just trying to surprise the reader and keep them interested – reward them and acknowledge them. This kind of approach makes it easier, I think, to be quite free with the design approach and to try different visual ideas.

In the end, what is a good magazine in your opinion? What 5 tips would you give to a company that’s interested in publishing their own customer magazine?
A good magazine is the whole package and is never about compromise. A great magazine doesn’t have to be constrained by small budgets if the ideas are big and you give yourself the freedom to be creative and bold. What does that mean in a practical sense for a company wanting to get into the publishing game?

1. Know your customers – and share what you know with your agency
You can’t build a deeper relationship if you don’t have a solid foundation. If you don’t know what they want, ask them.

2. Know your objectives
What do you want to achieve with an editorial message? Brand building and awareness? Retaining and rewarding loyal customers? Educating them about changes? Acquiring new customers (or different ones)?

3. Know your competition
Don’t give your customers something they already get from somewhere else. This is how you can achieve real standout – by word of mouth, through PR and through long-term engagement. Always stay one step ahead of your competitors. When they catch up with you, it’s time for change.

4. Trust your agency
They’re the experts, so give them the freedom to be brave when you’re not sure that you can be. If they push it too far, it’s better to tone something down than to be too safe – you’ll never surprise your customers by giving them what they expect.

5. Be bold, be brave
We all have so much media thrown in our paths every day. Make sure yours is seen and heard. It’s the only chance you have of someone deciding to spend some of their very precious time with your brand. (And don’t forget to have fun either.)