A recent quarterly addition to Great American Publishing, Stationery Trends, as its name implies, targets stationary retailers. The b-to-b title, launched in April 2008, focuses on greeting cards and gifts trends, and includes designers, artists and manufacturers of stationery products, filling the need for a niche publication in this area. Before its launch this past spring, Great American Publishing most recently acquired Party & Paper Retailer back in 2004.
Similar to its other niche magazines, when it came to launching Stationery Trends, editorial director Kimberly Warren says that the team’s main goal was to create a trade magazine that would stand out from every other trade title that its subscriber base is reading. Known for its food production and apparel trade magazines, Great American Publishing is well versed in standing out to its base. However, when designing its issues, especially the first, Warren was aware that the magazine’s readership is “highly conscious of industry trends and pays close attention to details. [The magazine] has to be highly reflective of a design-focused industry while being a useful resource.” The goal: trend-forward, clean and easy-to-navigate design.
Stationery Trends considers its win for Best New Design, B-to-B, to be based on a design flow, which “our then-creative director Abbey Fowler implemented, using a template that pulled readers in and kept them turning pages,” says Warren.
Balancing the Layout
Robin McMurray, who took over as Stationery Trends’ creative director beginning with the magazine’s winter issue, anticipates following the same template that her predecessor Fowler has put in place for the magazine. Following a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra, McMurray will see the success of the design flow through its upcoming issues.
Both McMurray and Warren consider the most difficult part of the magazine’s layout knowing when to compromise editorial space for design. “There are many stories that I go back and forth on with the editorial department until eventually we create the balance that we are looking for. I think one of the most important design elements that Stationery Trends aims to keep is the fact that its so simple and easy to read,” McMurray says. With future issues, the magazine hopes to expand on its niche target readership and brand itself as a magazine with simplistic layout and straightforward editorial nature.
Making It Pop
What’s the difference between an elegantly simplistic layout and producing lackluster pages? In addition to the balancing of its pages, Stationery Trends’ goal was to make its product images pop, since this was an integral element drawing its readership. This means that each image must be clear and compelling, and staff must be sure that headlines are simplistic so as not to overshadow the product images. “We tried many different combinations of sizes, fonts and styles, but ultimately ended up with the font reflected in our logo and our front cover,” says Warren.
In the most recent issue—its fall 2008 bridal issue—staffers “went back and forth on a couple of spreads trying to cut the editorial down so we could really showcase several examples of different bridal stationery, save-the-dates, maps, wedding party gifts and the like,” says Warren. “We ended up with a beautiful issue, but it took some work to get the right balance of images and editorial.”