Developing a branded product - Mark Magazine 1996
Mark Magazine is Mark's Gospel designed and branded in a radical contemporary way aimed at young people to get them interested in Christianity. Designed in 1996 the brief from The International Bible Society was to 'come away from beards and sandals' and to appeal to young adults. The branded product uses 'animated typography' that was very radical at the time along with design techniques that were originally applied to dance music and club promotions.
After completing several smaller projects for The International Bible Society they approached us to develop some ideas for a contemporary version of Mark's Gospel. Not being a Christian myself and being in the age range the product was aimed at, I was able to quickly understand the graphic language that would gain my attention and so the target audiences. This also included considering the format of the product, and working with a Christian to understand the context of Mark's Gospel thoroughly. This included reading the text and understanding the subtle messages within it - taking real time to understand, researching the target market and it's graphic language styles, and analysing what was working and why .
We developed a few different cover and internal double page spread ideas that were presented to The International Bible Society. During this process it was obvious that the final chosen solution was a favourite. The budget was tight but we were allowed to break barriers so it was a very creative process to be involved in. The cover image is actually an image of Birmingham's skyline, if you look closely you can see the Rotunder building (we had little budget for new photography). The cover image was manipulated in Photoshop and the branded product itself was US A4 in size and used full colour with a blue metallic ink on the cover, the size being different to normal A4 in that it is squarer and easier to some degree to flick through, but essentially it stood out and was different which embodied our creative approach.
The text of Mark's Gospel was the main influence in how the 32 page magazine was designed page by page in that the animated typography followed and represented the text. This meant that we responded to the content, pulling out text content and animating it, we used typography and illustrations in a creative way never seen before in a Christian product - it broke boundaries and The Internal Bible Society were brave but also incredibly excited and enthusiastic in accepting this branded solution.
The Bible Society were incredibly enthused with the branded product that led to a long term business relationship and evermore creative briefs. Mark Magazine was featured in the graphic journal Creative Review (a real honour), along with the MTV sponsored BLAH Magazine which was designed by one of the pioneers of contemporary graphics, David Carson (a real hero of mine). The Magazine also gained lots of other press and was even discussed on the radio.
Some Christian connoisseurs didn't enthuse about the product, however they were not the target audience and the overall response was incredibly positive. The Magazine went on to form a benchmark in graphic communication, not just of biblical text, but of developing a branded product to communicate a complex message to a target audience, the product itself generating a stream of PR, marketing opportunities and new business for us but also for The Bible Society.
Be brave with your promotions, break boundaries and use a design company that has experience. If you're not brave your communications will just end up being 'safe' which is a real crying shame! Any business can develop eye catching and radical graphic communications that are well positioned and branded whether in print or digital that reflect their true vision, mission and culture. This will allow you to stand out and to reach out and communicate directly to your target audience.
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