On the heels of a university-wide brand refresh, Tulane University’s School of Medicine partnered with Zehno to redesign its Tulane Med alumni magazine — and to elevate the school’s expertise.

The redesign realigned the magazine’s content strategy with the school’s overall goals, created a manageable content structure for a new editorial team and updated the design to reflect the university’s new “stand apart” brand. See how the new magazine brings the brand to life for alumni and donors.

Challenges

  • Elevate the med school’s expertise, especially its strengths in research and innovation.
  • Illuminate the university’s new creative concept through storytelling and design.
  • Highlight community outreach programs, a source of pride especially for young alumni.

Results

AWARD-WINNING

Tulane Med won an Excellence Award from the UCDA Design Competition.

REIMAGINED CONTENT

The magazine’s content strategy aligns with the brand creative to build a consistent narrative.

Exclamation mark!

research elevated

Frames Tulane’s world-class research as prominently as its top competitors do.

Bring the brand to life

Tulane University’s new “stand apart” creative concept emphasizes Tulane as a community where people stand for something, especially protecting and preserving the most vulnerable people and places on the planet.

So how could the magazine capitalize on the new brand? The med school’s strengths — putting its knowledge to use, fighting diseases near and far — were a natural fit.

In a recent issue, the cover feature called out students’ and alumni’s “stand apart” elements as a mix of professional and personal interests — from after-school tennis coach to part-time thespian to West African music historian.

In both features and shorter news briefs, the new magazine emphasizes stories of people doing great things in the community. Surveyed younger alumni (especially those who attended post-Katrina and were originally drawn to Tulane for its reputation for community service) said they wanted to hear how the school is improving lives in New Orleans today. For example, one feature showcases a recent alum who launched a foundation for New Orleans youth to address barriers resulting from poverty, violence and the lack of educational opportunities. Another article profiles a student who provides free health care to people who have just gotten out of federal prison and are reacclimating to society.

A deliberate mix

The magazine’s new story mix deliberately balances the educational, clinical and research facets of the med school. As part of the story selection process, the editorial team identifies brand stories showing how the School of Medicine and its people stand apart and strive for the greater good. Now the team relates the story list to the brand concept’s core messages about breakthroughs in biomedical research and impacts on underserved populations. When audience members read the stories, they connect not only to the specific story subjects, but also to the university’s broader goals.

Here’s how the new magazine structure presents the med school’s most compelling stories within the Tulane brand framework:

  • A new Advances section at front of book brings research, community outreach and innovation to the forefront. This section features everything from pioneering robotic surgeries to a student-inventor developing a gadget that detects when sunscreen is misapplied.
  • Two standard sections highlight brainpower. Tulane’s experts — faculty members or alumni — can discuss their research or weigh in on public issues of the day.
  • And an endpaper called Standouts — a quick dialog with an alum or legendary faculty member who made a difference — ties directly to the university brand. And it ends the magazine on an uplifting note. 

How to elevate expertise

The Tulane Med redesign uses signature editorial elements to prove how the School of Medicine’s brainpower is extending knowledge and improving lives.

The Advances section’s mix of research, innovative breakthroughs, community outreach and quick news was transformed from its previous newsletter-style, copy-heavy grid into a snappier and varied layout. Instead of feeling like a rehash of old press releases, the new section introduces curated content and illustrations.

Research gets more emphasis throughout the magazine. Built-in options equip the editorial team to scale research stories up or down.

  • There’s always dedicated space for one-page research stories. In this use, each story gets a giant graphic presence using a bold illustration to capture the big idea. The illustration helps to clarify — and simplify — the research so that readers can absorb it quickly.
  • Research can be treated as a feature story. A recent article tracked Tulane’s pediatrics research from toddlers to teenagers. Tulane experts are studying everything from how lullabies affect infant heart rates to how text messaging and peer support can fight the spread of HIV among teens.
  • Research can also appear as a short blurb in the front of book. The Advance section is a smart place to spotlight new grants, research awards or important publications and press coverage.

What Zehno did

  • Position paper: Audit and strategic recommendations.
  • Prototyping: Magazine redesign, content strategy and editorial plan.
  • Template preparation: Full prototype templates and content strategy.
  • Support: Continued content strategy and layout of each issue.
  • And more.

Tips for your team

  1. Listen to your readers. Use a survey and focus groups to learn what they want to read about most.
  2. Give your priority content a visual presence. The magazine’s research stories are relatively short, but they’re paired with bold illustrations and a sense of space that gives them visual heft.
  3. Tighten up your features. Use sidebar styling to keep the stories scannable and to convey at-a-glance content.

DOES YOUR MAGAZINE MATTER?

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

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