How to redesign and relaunch a magazine; a 99 Percent Lifestyle case study
It was just me a year ago and the brand grew very slowly. There is only so much one person can do.
Today sees the launch of volume 4 of 99 Percent Lifestyle, a magazine from Birmingham, UK, about creativity and entrepreneurship.
For this new issue (after an intro from me last Spring 🤩) editor Conor Rees brought in Birmingham-based designer Luke Tonge, whose bright, playful and type-friendly work you may know from Boat and The Recorder.
As the magazine enters a new era of updated editorial and design, I thought it would be a good idea to chat with both Conor and Luke about how they tackled the relaunch and redesign.
Conor Rees, editor
First up, Conor runs through the editorial and business side of the relaunch.
One of the first decisions was to create a consistent brand. We developed a brand guidelines document that refined our mission statement, meaning behind what 99 Percent Lifestyle was about/meant and made some key design decisions. This consisted of having a set list of brand colours, typefaces etc.
This also enabled us to develop our own tone of voice and almost treat the brand like a person, who had its own voice and would comment on particular topics.
During this process, we also removed our old logo to add a new one that had more personality, one that wasn’t just a percentage symbol.
The new logo was added, the new newsletter redesign followed later last year, and now Volume 4 has just been released with a new design framework and new packaging. The final step is to now fine tune the website and improve on each issue of our magazine.
Working with Luke we were able to plan out the new issue of the magazine and create a publication that was a step up from the previous issue. It had to be a magazine that felt similar and belonged to the same family as the rest of the magazines, but almost like it had evolved into this whole new thing. This isn’t just with the editorial design too, the new issue is printed on higher-quality paper, uses an embossed cover, with gold holographic elements.
The content has evolved significantly too. Volume 4 marks the first issue we have travelled around Europe in order to craft unique stories. We visited the Faroe Islands and Montenegro for stories as well as researching insightful and inspiring pieces throughout the magazine that involve creators from around the world. The four large features in the magazine revolve around travel whilst the rest of the magazine is free to explore other genres and creators. The main key feature involves Youtuber Dan Mace and shares his story of oppression and being caught in a drug scam in Indonesia.
I have been also focusing a lot on the business side of things over the last few months. I have a lot of events in the works to take 99 Percent Lifestyle too in order to spread the word about the brand and have plenty of ideas for new projects. This year is going to be a big year for the brand and now we have an established brand for the weekly newsletter and print magazine, we are free to explore other areas such as a podcast perhaps.
The plan is to begin producing more content for the website too. The aim is that all of these channels can bring more people into the 99 Percent Lifestyle community and sell more magazines. We are very grateful when people want to exchange their money for a publication and that’s why we have put a lot of effort into planning some amazing unique packaging for people to experience. We produce a lot of content that is free as well, but we are always very supportive of our community because every purchase of the magazine goes a long way and helps us operate on a daily basis.
The main thing I have learnt over the past year is that you need other people to help you build your vision.
Luke’s help over the past year is a prime example of how the brand can be improved and the plan is to get more people involved with 99 Percent Lifestyle as time progresses. It was just me a year ago and the brand grew very slowly. There is only so much one person can do.
Luke Tonge, creative director
Next, Luke takes us through the redesign of the magazine.
Our Design Process
Working alongside Conor was really refreshing as he was clear about what he wanted, and trusting enough to not try to micro-manage the process – so there was a lot of freedom to explore options and try different things to move the magazine on, and as he knows his own mind he was clear and honest with his feedback.
The foundation from previous issues was a great jumping off point, and the general aesthetic was already set.
It was a case of taking that and stretching/pushing it to bring out a bit more of the playful and visually engaging side of the content. The bulk of the magazine redesign was completed in just over a week leading up to Christmas 2018, once the majority of content was finalised.
Introducing new typefaces, a revised grid, a new approach to sections and openers, a new icon, masthead and palette might sound like a total redesign, but we believe that update this feels like a natural evolution, as the magazine itself continues to grow in confidence.
Type is always at the heart of editorial design, so it was a pleasure to be able to rethink the typographic voice at the heart of 99%. We opted for a combination of families which provide the flexibility we need while staying true to the minimal and modern aesthetic Conor had already established.
Hope Sans is the new typographic heart of 99%, designed by Charles Nix for Monotype, it features large counters and open spacing meaning it can work effortlessly in print – its flared strokes and cupped terminals provide it with moments of playfulness and idiosyncrasy.
Beirut from Luzi Type is our most extreme addition, with strong shapes and high contrast it is built on an innovative calligraphic principle, giving it a bold presence on the page.
Together these 4 typefaces form a powerful team to speak in a variety of ways across platforms and subjects and I'm confident they'll serve the magazine well for years to come.
Production & finish
While rethinking every aspect of the magazine we felt it was important to push the production up a notch where possible, so we brought on board our friends at GFSmith to advise us on new stocks for the text and cover pages – eventually settling on bright Munken and the beautifully textured Munken respectively.
To retain uniformity on the shelf with previous issues we opted to keep the size & format unchanged, and I think the mag is a lovely size; easy to hold, browse and carry.
We also continued the eye-catching use of foil on our newly redrawn masthead, switching to industry-leaders Foilco to capitalise on their unrivalled range, settling on a holographic gold foil to complement the largely green photography on the front cover.