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Your Magazine Needs a Cover Strategy

Anyone who believes you can’t judge a book — or in this case, a magazine — by its cover probably hasn’t had to develop a cover strategy. Sure, your brand magazine probably doesn’t have to compete on newsstands, but it does have to sell the reader on its content.

A cover hints at what you’re going to get if you take the time to open the magazine. By its style, its image, or its information, it must convince you to turn the page and take action.

Because of its very nature, a magazine cover must be familiar and unique. Let me give you an example: Vogue. Does the title conjure an image in your head even without knowing what celebrity is on the cover? That’s what I mean.

Here are three of the essential elements you must include in your covers for them to be great.

Developing a successful cover strategy

1. Strike a Pose

Cover images usually coincide with one of the big stories in an issue. While it’s usually part of a series of photos that will be continued inside, it has to take on its own identity. Often the subject is the center of the image, with limited background noise, though more complicated or overly simplified images are sometimes chosen to evoke the mood that aligns best with the story.

2. Keep It Together (And Organized)

There are some magazines out there that really know how to play around with type. Wired and Esquire are a great examples. It’s important to guide the reader’s eyes using the size and placement of the text. Make sure an appropriate emphasis is given to the different coverlines forming a hierarchy of sorts. Font choices are an indicator of the tone of the magazine; some are playful, some are serious, some are sophisticated. Choosing an appropriate font is another chance to lure readers into the content you have inside the magazine.

3. Get Smart with Cover Lines

You’ve heard the phrase “Go big or go home,” right? That applies to magazine cover lines, too. Like a photo, they’re a way to grab a reader’s attention. The right choices can help define your brand’s voice and get readers to turn the page. Here are a few tips:

  • Use numbers. They imply a list. In the information age, people appreciate curated information.
  • Questions are good, too. Just make sure you answer them.
  • Short quotes can make a reader want more.
  • Bold statements add authority. Customers are usually looking for recommendations.

The most effective covers are thought through and strategized. Using these tips will put you well on your way toward an even more effective cover strategy. What are some of your favorite magazine covers? Share in the comments or on social media.