Five ways to create better member magazine covers

1.    New image

Your cover image is one of the most important elements of your whole magazine. It’s what creates impact and sets the tone of the entire publication.

Designers like me can spend a lot of time, sometimes days, sourcing the perfect imagery. Every organisation is different, but for every one we try things like positioning images in different ways, experimenting with alternative crops to get the balance right between imagery and type. This type of creative treatment of images can invigorate the whole look and feel of your cover, even if you’re using older images from your library .

It’s worth saying that where organisations want images of their members on the cover, we strongly recommend two things – to avoid using models to represent them but use photography of real members instead and generally to choose images where the member is making eye contact with the camera. This communicates immediacy and creates an inviting and inclusive feel.

2.     Just your type

Magazine covers can misfire if you load them with too many words. Unless your front cover doubles-up as a contents guide, you should be looking for brevity and creating impact.

A good designer will have a box of tricks on using typography to its greatest effect. This should include the way they use different fonts, sizes and caps to establish a hierarchy of headlines and subheadings.  

3.    Top of the line

Great covers need smart cover lines that attract the reader and sell the contents of your magazine. They can be punchy, they can ask a question, or they can tease or intrigue. It’s worth spending time writing and rewriting cover lines to make sure your members are engaged and enticed from the front cover onwards.

4.    Theme it

Sometimes you can create powerful covers by theming an issue. Let’s say it’s a particularly busy time for training, development and recruitment in your sector and this is reflected across the magazine’s editorial.Rather than lead on a single story, you could go for a bold strap line such as ‘The Talent Issue’ or ‘The Skills Edition,’ grouping together cover lines for related content.

Designers working closely with editorial, as we do, can create themed issues with covers that are more meaningful and memorable.

5.    Well-fitted covers

You have beautiful, art-led covers with a single, smart strap lines. Great. But what if your readers really want to feel their magazine is bursting with lively news and features just for them? We see it as the designer’s job to find the right balance between creativity and usability while ensuring the cover delivers on the organisation’s overall key aims and messages.  

 Would you like us to review your cover design or content? Get in touch with Sarah Simpson to see if we can make your front covers work harder.

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