Article: The Quest for the Perfect Cover
Jan White’s* article ‘The Quest for the Perfect Cover’ in Publishing Executive nicely sums up the various roles of a magazine cover and how editors/publishers can judge the effectiveness of the cover they are planning to release. (Extract follows)
No matter what you put on the cover, keep the six functions of covers in mind:
1. Familiar recognition from issue to issue (that's the brand)
2. Emotionally irresistible (that's the image's appeal)
3. Arousing curiosity (that's to pull the casual glancer in)
4. Intellectually stimulating, interesting (that's to promise benefits)
5. Efficient, fast, easy to scan (that's showing off the service)
6. Worth the investment of money and time (that's the "What's in it for me?")
Four ways to judge your cover:
1. Covers are the prime sales tool that must be judged realistically both for content as well as form. Never trim a printout, mount it beautifully, and display it with its alternates on the finely polished surface of the conference-room table.
2. Instead, ask the designer to print out all the alternates as hard copy, trim them accurately to magazine size and glue them onto old issues, so you can see them as close to the real thing as possible. Now, toss them on a tabletop, so they flop around and overlap like real magazines do.
3. If you can spare the time, go to the local drugstore or bookstore, and sneak your upcoming issue in among the other magazines on the racks. Does it hold its own or does it disappear?
4.If selling on newsstands is not your problem, but competition among executives is, gather copies of what your targets might be reading, including your competition, of course. Mock up an executive's in-box or tabletop arrangement in some way, and place yours among them. That is the realistic way to judge your cover. Keep that still-life stack for next month's headaches.
*Jan White is the author of the book, "Editing by Design" and lectures worldwide on the relationship of graphic design to editing.