This is NOT Your Boss’ Businessweek

bloomberg-obamaBloomberg’s Businessweek is on a roll, thanks to a creative team that is firing on all cylinders to bring the formerly stodgy brand screaming into a new image of honest, authentic and wildly witty storytellers.

“Chances are a Bloomberg Businessweek cover has stopped you in your tracks at some point: But behind the provocative graphic design is a smart strategy that’s changing the way publications are made, both online and off,” writes Alissa Walker in Gizmodo.

“It didn’t always used to be this way. Since the publication’s relaunch in 2010, the creative team has been busy reshaping a stodgy magazine you’d only touch in your dentist’s waiting room into a dynamic, entertaining, and visually driven must-read. And they’re killing it,” Walker continues.

Take, for instance, the cover that featured a picture of Obama “crashed” halfway through loading, with a header calling for a second term reboot. It’s pure design genius that tells the entire story of the healthcare website fiasco, and it stems from an openness to being problem solvers and getting input from the entire staff, according to creative director Robert Vargas.

In addition to their striking print covers, the team is getting kudos for the bitingly clever animated gifs they create for digital consumption, like the epic Hurricane Cat that fronted a Weather Channel story.

The result is often irreverent, and even against best practices in design, like the weird ‘70s marker-style typeface used for the cover of Apple’s Tim Cook.

What’s really brilliant about their new direction is not just the humor or the shock value, but how well the imagery ties in to the story they are trying to tell. And it’s clear that the advertising team has no input on the editorial side, as evidenced by the scathing Coke Has a Fat Problem imagery.

“What makes the magazine really interesting to me is that we’re not just going around congratulating corporations and businessmen on how successful they are,” Vargas explains.

“We’re always looking critically at the subject matter we’re exploring. Coke was a good example of this. The story itself was not really negative, but it did go into the image problem they’ve acknowledged they’re facing in a culture where sugar is so vilified.

“So to me the cover made complete sense and wasn’t just a jab for the sake of being controversial,” Vargas continues. “I’m not sure what the repercussions were in the advertising department, but I think they probably expect this from us by now.”

In a market where the business side of the house can overstep editorial, and where standing out can often be a substitute for being outstanding, Bloomberg’s Businessweek is standing on solid ground.