Why can't Ampersand Magazine maintain its readership? 


Client: Ampersand
Role: Assistant Design Editor, Creative Writer
Discipline: Editorial Design,
Art Direction
Year: 2014-2015

Context
Ampersand is a monthly lifestyle publication made by students at the University of Georgia. When I was hired to work there, the magazine was about to be cut out of the budget.

Problem
Ampersand had trouble maintaining an identity, which made it difficult to retain readership, ad sales, and popularity. 

Design Editor Jake Green and I identified three main reasons for this:

  1. The Magazine lacked visual consistency.
  2. It was hard to find (because readers didn't know what they were looking for, as well as inconsistent placing on campus).
  3. There was too much change. Every year when a new Editor was appointed, they decided to run the magazine in a new direction.

OUR MISSION: To re-brand Ampersand and make it more discoverable, lovable, and worth loyal readership!

Below is a sampling of Ampersand covers before our rebranding efforts. You can see that the covers changed rather drastically issue-to-issue, and even further year by year. 

Old Ampersand Design.jpg

The new cover template, ampersand, and typeface selection.

We started with a series of meetings with the three full-time staff sponsors of the newspaper and magazine. We led a critique, which led to an approved re-design proposal, plan, and timeline. Jake and I iterated on logos, covers, and typeface choices. After a month, we narrowed down our mockups to a new, unified look - and an accompanying style guide for Ampersand staff to follow in the years to come. 

You can view our first design brainstorm here

Moving forward, our cover templates allowed for better planned cover photoshoots and a defined look that our readers could count on finding in the stands, and that would attract new eyes. 

 

Below are some of the covers that we produced during our year on staff, according to Ampersand's new identity.

static1.squarespace-1.jpg
 

Ampersand had its most successful year with it's most beautiful design to date, and thanks to our whole staff tripling efforts on social events, social media, and hand-delivering magazines, we were able to create something for students that we felt proud of. After the redesign, the most rewarding part of working for Ampersand was the relationship built between me and our main music writer, Jonny Williams. We teamed up for most of the music pieces he authored, and were completely engaged in each other's process.  I loved helping him plan compositions with our photographers, choose titles for stories, and create layouts that were shaped uniquely around his content, presenting them as a package that completed his stories vision.

Below are some of my favorite spreads.

The design editor and I co-wrote and designed an idea of our own for every issue. For our Food Issue, we took on eating at and rating all 7 barbecue restaurants in Athens in under 3 hours.