The University of British Columbia is one of the world’s most-renowned research institutions, so when alumni UBC embarked on a magazine redesign, the question was clear: How can we squeeze in more brainpower?

The answer was in the packaging.

Now each issue of Trek is anchored by a thematic package that tackles a complex topic from multiple angles — and proves UBC’s global impact. The debut issue unites UBC experts in law, journalism, political science, sociology — and even poetry — for an omni-dimensional dialogue on migration and human rights. 

Working with the alumni UBC  team, Zehno prototyped the anchor package, gave the visuals an attention-grabbing punch, fleshed out new story types, and reimagined content for print and digital spaces.

Challenges

  • Move toward a digital-first content strategy — with both reader-friendly breadth and advertiser-friendly depth.
  • Position UBC as a leader in addressing worldwide challenges.
  • Draw more younger readers.
  • Elevate the storytelling behind academic research.
  • Set the visual tone for a new magazine website.

Results

Exclamation mark!

Expansive Reach

On top of 200,000 print subscribers across the globe, UBC’s smart, substantial stories are reaching broader digital audiences. In the first quarter following launch, website users jumped +20% and page views increased +40%.

 

AWARD-WINNING

The redesigned magazine was recognized by Educational Advertising Awards.

World-class content

Working with top illustrators and photographers lifted storytelling to new heights. We added extra space so that the content was never cramped.

What Zehno did

  • Audit and strategic recommendations.
  • Editorial consulting to map out story types.
  • Mood boards.
  • Prototype and templates.
  • Layout of first issue’s anchor package.
  • Ongoing consulting.

 

Tips for your team

  1. Break it up. Create modular features that can be disassembled for digital channels.
  2. Upgrade photos and illustration. In the battle for reader attention, where your true competition isn’t just college magazines, top-notch imagery matters.
  3. Shake up the format. Write in the way that tells each story best — from Q&As to archival photo essays to eyewitness narratives.

Does your magazine matter?

Next time budget slashers descend on your office, be prepared to answer what it actually accomplishes.

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