Friday, 20 September 2013

Redesign sales boost

The new look Cumbria Life and Dumfires and Galloway Life, published by Carlisle based CN Media, have performed well in the first few months since their respective redesigns went on sale.

Cumbria Life posted a year on year increase of 7.5% while Dumfries and Galloway Life hit a two year high with a 5.6% boost

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Dumfries & Galloway Life redesign

Dumfires & Galloway Life is the the second county magazine I have redesigned for CN Media and is the award winning sister title to Cumbria Life which I worked on first.

For the new-look It made sense to transfer Cumbria Life's chassis, fonts and approach to the magazine, while still keeping a separate identity for the Scottish title with a new logo and colour pallet.

Publishing director and editor Richard Eccles said “ Dumfires & Galloway Life uses the same typography as Cumbria Life, but the redesign was less radical. D&GL is hitting the right readers and has a deliberately broader audience than our other magazines; we needed to make the current approach and content work better for the reader.”

The magazine is an essential guide for getting the most out of the region and showcasing the vibrant contemporary culture, thriving arts scene and news of how people are immersing themselves in the county life.

At the relaunch party Crichton Foundation convenor Dame Barbara Kelly described Dumfries & Galloway Life as “an institution” run by a team which engaged with and understood the community: “They are boosting our morale and saying we can hold our heads high and campaign for this part of Scotland which is often ignored and neglected."

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson said Dumfries & Galloway Life had become an integral part of life in Dumfries & Galloway: “We are incredibly good at talking ourselves down in Dumfries & Galloway but the magazine has never done anything but talk us up. I hugely congratulate everyone involved in it. Thank you for doing what you do for this region.”

I also worked closely with commissioning editor Andrea Thomson and Sara Valentin and Lindsay Molloy on the production team.

New look cover and logo for Dumfires & Galloway Life

Andrea Thomson's welcome letter

News opener

News pages

Feature jump page

Back of the book life style section

Then and now regular feature

Food and drink section

Gardening section

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A thousand words

Richard Eccles, editor of Cumbria Life, knows the county's people and landscape are core of his magazine. The drama of the Lakes and stories of its people are played out in the pages of his magazine each month.

For the redesign Richard was keen to introduce a regular photo feature telling the story of a unique Cumbrian event through the eyes of staff photographer Phil Rigby.

I've not come across many editors who are prepared to devote space to a photo essay. But the 10 or so pages Richard hands over to Phil each month is a reflection on the beauty of the county and how important it is to the magazine's identity.

Phil has been working for CN Group, the owners of Cumbria Life, since 1988 starting out in newspapers and then moving over to work in the magazine division.

I asked Phil how he approaches a photo essay

"I like to try to shoot differently to the rest of the magazine and a photo story gives me more freedom to experiment. I prefer not to have any fixed ideas but I do know what I want to avoid, which is cliched pictures that have been done before. A recent example was a photo story of a blacksmith at work in her forge - I knew I didn't want to come back with a picture of the blacksmith making sparks, which has been done many times."

"I like to let the shoot develop naturally. It's important not to rush but also not to drag the shoot out - that really puts people off and you soon lose their attention. I like to keep it fun and am always on the look out for little angles and picture ideas that occur during the shout."

"The best way to get the shots you want is to keep everything as natural and relaxed as possible. Some shots are 'catch the moment' pictures but there are also photos which occur to me which I will take time to set up. With these, I see what I want to capture in my mind's eye beforehand."

"I always hope the pictures will be interesting and stimulating. I want them to be 'take you there' photos that will give readers an insight into a place or an activity that they know nothing about"

The first set of 4 spreads capture the drama, colour and characters of Appleby Horse Fair

The next set of spreads tell the story of Lucy Sandys-Clarke, who specialises in traditional forge work from her smithy in the village of Dent 

Cumbria Life redesign

Cumbria Life gets a new look and logo 

Cumbria Life is one of three titles that makes up the magazine arm of Carlisle based, newspaper publisher, CN Group.

Richard Eccles, Publishing Director in charge of the magazine portfolio, asked me to work with him on the relaunch of Cumbria Life and oversee the design of the new look, including a new logo and complete rethink of the way the content is presented.

A previous designer had let Richard down, so he was looking for someone else to take up the challenge. I'd recently joined PPA Scotland and Richard spotted my name when I was introduced in the PPA newsletter.

Cumbria Life aims to be a vibrant and contemporary guide to life in Cumbria without losing its core values centred around the Lake District’s beautiful landscape and heritage.

Richard Eccles, said: “We felt it was time to refresh the magazine and change perceptions about what a 'county life' magazine is about. We want to be essential reading and an essential guide for getting the most out of this amazing county and its unique combination of natural beauty and a vibrant contemporary culture of Michelin-starred restaurants and a thriving arts scene.

"The challenge is to attract new younger readers while not putting off our traditional core, and from the first reactions to the new magazine, I think we have pulled it off."

"Readers are connected by a deep closeness to the geographical community rather than just a common lifestyle interest such as music or motorbikes. This brings extra complexity and to the editorial process for a regional magazine, similar to the difference between local and national newspapers - particularly for example in terms of how far you stretch cover lines. The people and places featured are our neighbours."

"I'm delighted with what Matthew has brought to Cumbria Life, not just design but the whole approach of how a magazine works best. In terms of regional magazines I think there's now nothing like Cumbria Life in the UK."

Broadcaster Stuart Maconie, who has a home in the Lake District and has been a columnist on the magazine for five years, told Richard: "The new Cumbria Life is ace - it makes the others I've seen recently look like vapid county set advertorial fests. I see a lot of county magazines on my hotel travels and Cumbria Life is like the New Yorker by comparison...but with just enough sheep and drop scones to 'keep it real'. It's a proper magazine with proper design, ideas and proper writing."

The photography took centre stage in the redesign, more care is taken with photo editing so fewer images are used to tell a story  - but they're bigger. You can't help build 'flick-stopping' pages with such dramatic photographs of the Lakes.

Staff photographer Phil Rigby's portrait and landscape shots are used through out the magazine and are the backbone of the new design.

The magazine was officially relaunched at a party in Grasmere. Special guest speaker was Kevin Roberts, the worldwide chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, who has a home in Grasmere and has featured in the magazine. He spoke of his love for Cumbria and said that Cumbria Life was the first thing he turned to whenever he arrives in Grasmere.

I also worked closely with commissioning editor Mary Ingham and Sara Valentin and Lindsay Molloy on the production team.

Opening spread to the news section

News spread

Opener to life style section