Print, Connect, Engage – the Rise of Branded Magazines

In the early days of the web, content was how people found their audience and dominated their niche. For Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi, he sees echoes of this in today’s branded print magazines.

“It’s almost like the early days of the web when the first movers in content creation dominated. Now it’s happening with print,” he explains, as quoted by Kayleigh Barber in Folio:.

“Online vacation rental company Airbnb, luggage retailer Away, dating app Bumble and golf equipment and apparel brand Callaway have all recently embarked on this journey with the launch of print titles tied to their respective industries in order to market their brands on a new platform,” Barber writes.

This kind of marketing is effective in two specific ways – it helps cast a wider net to engage your potential audience members, and it offers a trusted platform on which to build deeper connections.

“With all the fake news going on, consumers believe that if a company invests in the printed word it’s more valuable. Whether it’s true or not, that’s the perception,” Pulizzi continues.

This kind of public perception is why print magazines offer a measurable trust bump among readers, elevating the brand signature in much the same way those first company blogs did back in the day.

It doesn’t always stick – there are examples out there of branded magazines that launched and shuttered. Yet for retailers, it’s proved to be a good strategy … especially in light of research that demonstrates print is able to capture more of our attention that digital. And attention is everything in this signal-heavy economy.

“People read slower on paper and retain more of it. Plus they tend to fantasize more, projecting themselves into the pictures,” says Scott McDonald, author of the MPA’s report “Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Why Print Magazine Advertising Works?”. “It’s a leisurely activity compared to the more purpose-driven and distractible experience of navigating on screens. Retailers could take advantage of that difference.”

“Readers projecting themselves into a branded magazine and building deeper engagements with the retailer in that way is what both REI Co-op and Goose Island Beer Co. either hope to accomplish, or have seen success with so far with their magazine extensions,” Barber notes.

REI replaced their traditional product catalog with a quarterly magazine Uncommon Path, aimed more at building engagement with the brand than increasing sales.

“The real objective here is around engagement and reaching the REI member base and people that have a relationship with the outdoors and helping enrich that relationship to inspire more participation,” says Paolo Mottola, director of content and media at REI. “And also, to reach folks that may come across this magazine and REI for the first time at the newsstand—we want to invite people into the stores.”

Meanwhile, Goose Island Beer Co. launched Ingrain magazine last year, as the craft beer movement continues to soar. The goal is not to sell beer, but to educate a wider audience about the craft beer industry.

“It’s more about being a cultural leader and being inclusive of people who might not be into craft beer or know about the Goose Island Beer Co. and expanding the category, versus someone who reads this magazine and then going out to buy a Goose Island six-pack,” said Christina Perozzi, editor-in-chief of Ingrain and head of education at Goose Island.

As Barber notes, branded print helps companies connect with their audiences in a slower, more deliberate way. And that means a lot in this news-feed style world.

“In a world of throw-away media, developing a printed vehicle gives the brand some level of control on what they want to say and how they want to say it,” says Pulizzi.