Iconic Magazine Makes Many Changes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

According to a statement USA Daily Chronicles received, “On the heels of one of the most successful years in National Geographic magazine’s 130-year history, the iconic print publication is introducing a bold new redesign, with new visual story forms, thought-provoking essays, and even more stunning photography. The May issue, on print newsstands April 24 and available online at ngm.com, explores and illuminates the frontiers of our world, from the depths of the ocean to the frontlines of culture, always with an eye for understanding the people, places, and ideas that shape our planet. Through dynamic new sections, type faces, premium paper stock, and more of the breathtaking photography that has engaged audiences for over a century, the iconic yellow border will continue to offer a portal to the farthest reaches of the Earth and beyond.”

In the beginning, the magazine had very few images and was more like a scientific magazine than what it is today.  However, when it went to photos, it has provided some of the most iconic imagines in magazine history.

Since the formation of National Geographic Partners in 2015, the brand has made an aggressive push to go “Further” moving the yellow border from reverence to relevance by delivering premium, distinctive content to a 21st century audience across its multiple platforms including linear, print, digital, social, consumer products, books, and travel. With the redesign of the magazine, National Geographic’s most iconic and revered platform will now deliver today’s audiences even more of the high quality, creatively inspired, and visually spectacular storytelling that readers around the world have come to expect in a fresh and contemporary way.

“National Geographic has helped readers explore the world for 130 years, and we thought it was important to move forward by embracing our heritage in new and modern ways,” said Susan Goldberg, Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners and Editor in Chief of National Geographic magazine. “The new National Geographic delivers the same sense of wonder readers expect but with a bolder, more provocative, more captivating eye.”

“This next evolution of National Geographic brings to bear the full set of tools available to the contemporary magazine,” said Emmet Smith, Creative Director of National Geographic magazine. “It allows us to more fully showcase the spectacular work of our photographers, reporters, and artists—and, in turn, provide an even better magazine for our readers.”

Goldberg and Smith worked on the strategy and redesign of the magazine with Godfrey Dadich Partners (GDP), a firm whose team of editors, designers, and marketers come from some of the nation’s top publications, including WIRED, The Atlantic, Fast Company, The New Yorker and Los Angeles magazine. GDP was engaged to identify and distill the core values that would serve as the foundation for the magazine’s next chapter.

“It was an honor for us to collaborate on such an iconic brand—to dive into a 130-year history of cartography, photography, typefaces, and journalism, then design a new kind of magazine for today,” said Scott Dadich, founder and co-CEO of Godfrey Dadich Partners. “Redesigning the magazine enhances its ability to deepen people’s understanding of the world and their role in it.”

What’s Changed
The redesigned National Geographic magazine includes pages that are easier to navigate and more exciting, with dynamic new sections at the front of the magazine. There is more space for stunning photography. New typefaces are adapted from styles that harken to its past, but are updated to reflect today’s sensibilities. The magazine is now printed on two new premium paper stocks, making the photographs more lush and rich, and giving the magazine itself a more luxurious feel to the hand.

New front sections: Three distinct sections in the front of the magazine provide an energetic and captivating introduction:

Proof—Dedicated to short photo essays highlighting new, provocative perspectives.
Embark—Investigating new ideas and arguments, challenging readers’ views of the world and everything in it.
Explore—Adventure pieces that allow the reader to journey, escape boundaries, and investigate the great mysteries of life. New elements include “Atlas,” a story told through maps, and “Through the Lens,” the backstory of a single, memorable photograph.

Even more emphasis on visual storytelling: Instead of four or five feature stories of roughly the same length in each issue there will now be several shorter, visual features rich with illustrations and photos; two traditional-length stories with the deep, global reporting and imagery that are the magazine’s hallmark; and one major, marquee package.

A bolder design and new typefaces: Two typefaces were created, inspired by both historical typefaces and pioneers who have helped build the legacy of the magazine. The first is 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. The second is Marden, based on an archival type that’s been updated and digitally re-cut for a clean, new look. It pays tribute to Luis Marden, an adventurer and photographer who was a pioneer in color photography.

What’s Stayed the Same
Most importantly, the three principles that underlie all that the magazine was built on remains the same—We are on the side of science, on the side of facts, and on the side of the planet.

Building On Success
Throughout its 130-year history, National Geographic has continuously pushed boundaries—from its innovative use of photography starting in 1906 to becoming the most followed brand on Instagram today. National Geographic has always found new ways to inspire audiences through high-definition, visual storytelling that’s impossible to ignore.

In 2017, the magazine had its best showing than ever before, garnering awards across photography, design, digital, and editorial. It was named as a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for its 2017 single-topic issue about gender, and also won the National Magazine Award for best single-topic issue for the ground-breaking gender issue. In 2017, newsstand sales were up 16% year over year, at a time when sales are down for most of the industry, and it was one of the only magazines to increase its print readership among c-suite and millennial readers.


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