November 28, 2005
Today, Karen magazine went on sale in New Zealand—no relation to Karen magazine in the UK. It’s a pleasant enough magazine, and I am not going to launch into any negative criticism because I know how tough it is to do a première issue of a consumer title. Actually, it’s quite good: nice stock, reasonably good shoots, no typos as far as I can tell, and a welcome breath of fresh air in a market dominated by titles well past their sell-by dates. The Helvetica typesetting is neat, almost de rigueur in the fashion market since Fabien Baron played around with it in the early 1990s. It reminds me a little of Jane, another magazine named for its boss, and treads that edgy zone between a traditional fashion title and the “street” market.
But two things are worthy of note: the appearance of a URL at the footers of each page that doesn’t work (www.karenmedia.com); and a sense that it is following our lead. The media kit’s message has some similarity, but most telling is the spine.
I was not the ﬁrst publisher to put a URL on page footers, but I don’t know of many magazines in New Zealand that do. There’s my Lucire (obviously because it began online and this is a link to its origins), and now there’s Karen. But I probably was the ﬁrst down here to insist on a European spine, where the words run upwards, for two reasons: we would some day be publishing in Europe (well, we already do); and the upward-heading type symbolized the upward trend of the magazine.
I welcome the new title and look forward to seeing it develop. I hope it establishes a character of its own. For a brand must be differentiated, as the ﬁrst rule of branding. I can’t claim monopoly on these devices—goodness knows I was inspired by some features that I liked from rivals—but it’s the second sign that I have had that my decisions might have changed women’s consumer publishing in New Zealand. It’s a pity that I haven’t inspired the same rush toward social responsibility in publishing that Lucire stands for; but it’s still nice having created a benchmark. permalink
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