Young Brands Launching Print Magazines Is a Thing
Block Club got its start almost 12 years ago. And we didn’t start out with the intention of being a leading branding and strategy agency. Back in 2007 when we launched in Buffalo, we were called Block Club Magazine, and we published stories of interesting people, businesses, and organizations working to make Buffalo a better place in a tidy, well-designed, bi-monthly free publication. This was before there was talk of a Rust Belt renaissance or a Buffalo comeback story, but the feeling of change was in the air, and you could start to see the city changing around you.
After 40 issues, we retired Block Club Magazine to focus on our agency. We felt like we managed to tell stories that needed to be told without going stale, that we helped to connect some of the dots that were making our city and region more vibrant. Like a good TV show, we wanted to go out on top.
The Branded Magazine Trend
I was surprised when I read a recent article by Adweek that talks about how in 2018, young companies are starting magazines as a way to help them build brands. Airbnb and luggage-disruptor Away are both cited in the article as starting print publications to stay top of mind with their customers.
Having published a magazine for eight years, I can say it’s a lot of work, so it was interesting to understand Away’s point of view, expressed by Jen Rubio, president and chief brand officer: The worst-case scenario, Rubio imagined, was that the magazine would become a “great travel blog.” The best-case scenario? It would be a “standalone media division that’s generating revenue, generating profit for the company.” Away launched what Rubio called “a startup within a 15-person startup” and hired an in-house editorial team to curate content for the publication. The magazine is now included inside every piece of luggage people purchase and is leaning toward Rubio’s best-case scenario for the brand.
I’m looking forward to following this trend, to see if it’s self-sustaining or if it fizzles out. The sheer amount of effort and expense, for something with little to no measurable ROI, will be a tough sell if companies struggle financially or look to cut costs in an effort to boost shareholder profits. I, for one, love beautiful print publications in the digital age. There’s something special about feeling the paper and reading without the glow of a screen. I’m hopeful that the trend continues, but don’t get any ideas! Block Club Magazine is enjoying its retirement, with no plans of printing issue 41 anytime soon.