an end-goal of either provocation, engagement or both. But not too much, it’s a business magazine, after all. Nevertheless, according to Dean Markadakis, Fast Company’s art director, the magazine has a luxury most other business publications don’t: A readership that’s particularly tuned in to pop culture. Hence, the September 2006 cover—featuring the eminently expressive comedian Lewis Black—took home a Gold Ozzie for Best Cover, consumer above 250,000 circulation.

Savvy Readership
“We have a readership that’s a little savvier with pop culture and entertainment—more so than other business magazines, and we felt he was a really good fit,” says Markadakis. “We felt our readers would recognize him.”

Black’s rant-infused comedy routines played well against the cover story on customer service. But the cover was more than a celebrity-tinged ploy for newsstand recognition. “We never put someone on the cover who we don’t have access to or speak to. There’s always a quote on the cover from that person and there’s always a Q&A or an essay by that person inside the magazine,” says Markadakis.
Fast Company covers are designed for the reader first, says Markadakis, not according to what will sell the most copies. It helps if the content backs up the design: The magazine also pulled in Folio: awards for Photography (Bronze Ozzie), Full Issue (Silver Eddie), and Single Article (Gold Eddie). “A good cover never compensates for a weak magazine,” says Markadakis. “We never do a cover just to sell a magazine. We do a cover that’s right for that particular issue.”

A challenge, notes Markadakis, is maintaining creativity within consistent boundaries. Every cover features a person—usually without any props or environmental context—backed up by a glowing radial gradient. “We usually like to focus on the subject and not have any distraction,” says Markadakis.

Judges comments: “Fun and completely germane concept, beautifully executed. Nicely varied, easily visible type. A first-class job.”

Pay-to-Play: How to Use Paid Ads on Social to Amplify Your Brand’s Content
Check out this related session at The Folio: Show, November 1-2 in NYC!

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