Mailbox Inspiration: A Magnificent Magazine

Photo of scuba diver looking at coral under water

I’ve always been in love with design. Now, working in an ad agency, even as an intern, I’m starting to see what makes great commercial design and where short cuts weaken it. Take, for instance, last week I opened my mailbox and found a Patagonia magazine stuffed between bills and junk mail. I immediately spent the next thirty minutes flipping through the pages full of captivating design-spiration. I drooled over studied the magazine and quickly realized that a lot of what I was loving in this magazine correlates with what I’m learning everyday at B&C:

Photos are key

Patagonia’s use of photography was spectacular throughout the magazine. The images are effective because they are eye catching, high quality, unique and captivating – leaving the readers wanting more. It also gets the audience in the right mindset to buy their products- seeing waves crashing, people surfing and snorkeling really gets them ready to buy some swimsuits and hit the beach. And if you can make your audience feel something like that when looking at your ad then you’ve hit a homerun. That’s why it is important for us to think about the use of powerful images in advertising, because it can make all the difference.

White Space: Let it Breathe

Patagonia’s use of white space for product shots really makes the product the main focus. The goal behind simple, clean design is to make the product stand out by standing alone. It’s a super easy and effective way to display products to the consumer without overwhelming them with too many things to look at. And that’s the goal, leave some space for the consumer’s imagination.

If you think white space is too ‘bland’ or ‘boring’ for your company, think about some of the best ads you’ve ever seen. Bet they were minimalistic and probably included some white space. But don’t think white space equals boring. You can easily add your own twist and take whitespace from seemingly drab to totally fab. Patagonia does this by adding splashes of the color orange- seen on their page numbers and article titles. Not only can you spice up your white space by adding pops of color, but adding fun typography or breaking borders are also a few ways to break the ‘boredom’ of white space.

Paper quality matters

Last but not least, what I absolutely love about this magazine is the paper it is printed on. It’s not your typical glossy paper found in most magazines – it’s a matte, and best of all it is 100% recycled – which is not only awesome to me but awesome for our environment as well! This aspect is easy to forget about when you’re designing on the computer but paper makes a difference. It can really change the overall feel (literally) of your collateral. Don’t short change the tactile aspect of paper. Go for what looks best but also represents your company as well (environmentally friendly paper, anyone?) even if that means spending a little more.

Design inspiration can come from all over. It’s important as a company to know what works best for you audience and run with it. Skimping out on seemingly small aspects of design (photography, paper quality) can make a huge difference in how your company is portrayed. So next time you find a seemingly “junk mail mag” in your mailbox, find a comfy chair and spend a few minutes looking through it. Who knows, you may be inspired.

*Also a shout-out to the person who lived in my house prior. Wouldn’t have gotten this magazine in the mail if not for your love for outdoors clothing, so thanks!