“For the first time in years, deans are requesting extra copies, students are asking to work on the magazine staff and alumni are calling us to update their addresses when they move. They don’t want to miss an issue.”
— Anna Seip, Messiah College Editor
Seeking an updated look to enhance alumni engagement, Messiah College came to us for a comprehensive redesign of their alumni magazine, The Bridge. Situated in rural Pennsylvania, Messiah is a private Christian college specializing in the liberal and applied arts and sciences with a mission of preparing students for lives of service and leadership. The redesign needed to signal a revitalized energy at the college while remaining true to the mission and values that Messiah alumni continue to expect from their alma mater.
A meeting with key editorial staff, administrators and faculty members, clarified that the quality of photography needed improvement and that the front and back sections of the magazine needed reorganization into clearly designated categories. As part of the design process, we were asked to include detailed templates, enabling in-house staff to produce subsequent issues.
The cover immediately signals the energy and enthusiasm at Messiah through the introduction of a bold new nameplate for The Bridge. As the name suggests, the intangible connection between alumni, parents, and donors is significant to the Messiah community. Equally important is the physical symbol of their unity – the covered bridge – a beloved campus landmark that is one of the few surviving examples of roofed and sided timber-truss bridges in Cumberland County. Because of the name’s significance to Messiah alumni, giving proper emphasis to the word “Bridge” was essential. With each new issue, the color of the nameplate changes to compliment and enhance the cover artwork. Feature stories are listed underneath, with the cover story emphasized. The introduction of a dynamic, modern nameplate is the reader’s first indication that a new look and updated content will follow.
The opening spreads set the tone for the entire magazine. This space is now reserved for a large “campus life” photo instead of an internal ad and a single page of contents. An open, comfortable pace is immediately established. To reinforce the new structure and give prominence to the main feature stories, the contents have been expanded to a full spread.
The opening spreads set the tone for the entire magazine.
The redesign clearly divides the magazine into sections, allowing for smoother pacing and a more obvious structure. The “On Campus” section up front and “Our Alumni” in the back of the magazine mirror each other through the use of a consistent system of design elements. The addition of specific color palettes, large headlines, callouts, and a common grid system creates clear entry points and a fresh, readable look, giving the sections a well-organized and readable page format.
Through the use of ample white space, full-page photography and illustration, and headlines set in large display type, the feature stories are clearly and quickly distinguished from news sections.
Through the use of ample white space, full-page photography and illustration, and headlines set in large display type, the feature stories are clearly and quickly distinguished from news sections. A set of complimentary typefaces has been adopted, including a modern slab serif and a contemporary sans serif used in multiple weights and sizes. Layouts have been simplified and restructured and a consistent system of typographic hierarchy has been introduced to give the overall publication a visual identity that reflects the vitality of the college and promises an enjoyable experience for readers.
“Better visuals and cleaner editorial structure result in the most important goal of any alumni magazine: Getting alumni to actually read it.”
— Anna Seip, Messiah College Editor
“The redesign updated the look of our magazine while also restructuring the magazine's editorial content,” said Messiah College Editor Anna Seip. “First, the magazine looks better. Skelton Sprouls's suggestion to switch printers resulted in a cost savings of $6,000 per issue. Most of that extra money went toward better photography. The magazine now has more eye-catching covers and dynamic photo spreads to go along with the updated design. Second, the editorial content is more readable. The pages are wider than they used to be, and the fonts are now consistent with the use of style sheets. Also infographics, more pullquotes and multimedia icons (for photo galleries, web content and video) provide several points of entry to each story. Better visuals and cleaner editorial structure result in the most important goal of any alumni magazine: Getting alumni to actually read it, which, in turn, makes them feel compelled to donate money to their alma mater. For the first time in years, deans are requesting extra copies, students are asking to work on the magazine staff and alumni are calling us to update their addresses when they move. They don't want to miss an issue. The essence of Messiah College is still represented, but it's done so in a more interesting way as a result of Skelton Sprouls’s redesign.”
Read other case studies from our Editorial series:
• Magazines: First Impressions
• Magazines: Making Covers Memorable
• Editorial Case Study No.1: St. John’s College, The College Magazine
• Editorial Case Study No.2: New Jersey Institute of Technology, NJIT Magazine
• Editorial Case Study No.4: Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, ONE Magazine
• Editorial Case Study No.5: St. Mary's College of Maryland, Mulberry Tree Magazine
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