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National Geographic: Takeaways From The Redesign That You Can Apply To Your Brand

April 19, 2018

Yes, I am one of those fabled millennials who still subscribes to actual, physical, magazines. I worked in the publication industry for years and I am a total nerd for print design. So when it was announced yesterday that the legendary National Geographic was changing their look up, I got excited. In a world where we are being told the magazine industry is dying, National Geographic upped newstand sales by 16% last year. In response to their growing readership and the 130th anniversary of the publication, the magazine is making some changes to their look.


The new look of National Geographic is not only gorgeous, it is also a great a lesson on how you can make insightful changes to your brand’s look without doing a dramatic redesign.


The Type

National Geographic looked to it’s past (and designer Tal Leming) to create typefaces that have a historic look yet are stunning featured in a contemporary layout. (Click here to read about his experience working on the typefaces and new nameplate.) National Geographic’s Editor in Chief, Susan Goldberg, states in her letter from the editor that, “Two new typefaces are adapted from styles that hark back to our past but are updated for a more modern feel. There’s “Earle,” named in honor of legendary oceanographer and National Geographic Society Explorer-In-Residence Sylvia Earle, who was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and “Marden,” based on an archival type that’s been digitally recut for a clean, new look. It pays tribute to Luis Marden, a pioneer in color photography.”


The takeaway: Looking back into your brand’s past can provide inspiration for your new look.

The Layout

National Geographic’s new layout highlights the strength of the magazine: photography and storytelling. Goldberg states, “Instead of four or five feature stories of roughly the same length in each issue, you’ll find several shorter, visual features rich with illustrations and photos; a couple of traditional-length stories with the deep, global reporting and imagery that are our hallmark; and one major, marquee package”


The takeaway: If your look has gotten a little crowded or chaotic, go back to the basics- focus on the strengths of your brand and elevate them.



One of the first things Goldberg says readers are going to notice is the magazine’s paper stock, “The new National Geographic is one you’ll literally feel before you see it, with upgraded paper stocks that make the experience of holding a magazine in your hands even more of a premium, lean-back delight.”


The takeaway: One of the quickest things you can do to freshen up your image is change the materials you are using. This could mean just changing the weight of paper your letterhead and other identity package items use to more dramatic changes like switching from digital printing to letterpress.



Take a more indepth look into the exciting changes happening at National Geographic: 



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