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Making the Shift from Alumni Magazine to Flagship

Iowa State University

Making the Shift from Alumni Magazine to Flagship

Transitioning a member-benefit magazine to a flagship publication takes a lot of input and strategy. When Iowa State University set out on this path, three departments aligned—the president of Iowa State University (ISU), the Iowa State University Alumni Association (ISUAA), and the Iowa State University Foundation (ISUF)—to create an overarching publication that would serve their community. Their goals defined the mission:
“To serve as a flagship publication that . . .
. . . enhances understanding of Iowa State University goals, priorities, direction and impact
. . . tells the most compelling, meaningful, entertaining, and land-grant-mission-in-action stories that advance the university
. . . strengthens relationships among Iowa State University, stakeholders and other key audiences”

The redesigned covers include directed, engaging portraits shot on solid backgrounds. This allows for the magazine to highlight alumni around the world yet have a consistent branded look and feel.

To begin, 2communiqué conducted a total of 12 individual interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders. Our priorities were: understand what makes Iowa State unique; determine how the publication could help address business and marketing needs; and gain a deeper awareness of our audience. Our strategic partner Vicki Glembocki also completed an in-depth critique of the ISUAA publication, Visions, to see what the membership had been receiving. A review of reader surveys helped us identify pride points and interests, as well as understand their expectations as we moved forward.

We developed a comprehensive editorial plan and engaging content strategy with an eye to reputation building. We also recommended a name for the new flagship magazine that would connect with the broader audience and build brand recognition: Iowa Stater.

Considering the digital and print editorial plan simultaneously is important when developing a cross-channel publication.

Like any magazine, Iowa Stater has multiple editorial voices and multiple visual styles. To ensure the visual voice remains consistent for future in-house developed issues, the redesigned style guide includes visual direction for illustration and photography.

Understanding the resources (time and budget) needed to develop future issues is a critical aspect of a redesign. Like many other institutions, Iowa State was working with a tight budget and a time-strapped designer. To accommodate these parameters, we developed a thoughtful design system that allows for ease of design and layout. Knowing that the in-house designer has both a talent and desire to illustrate select content, we included her work in the redesign.

Through the curation of university-wide content, the new publication website expanded audience reach while enhancing the ISU reputation. While the redesigned print magazine includes a special section—a magazine within the magazine—for members only.

All of the strategy and design came together in the launch issue. The editor looked closely at the editorial plan to develop content and worked closely with her university partners to ensure reputation building content was prevalent. Our team worked closely with her to direct the feature visuals and consult on the build-out of the website and e-newsletter and issue launch social media plan.

“2communiqué’s team of skilled communicators has a valuable, informed perspective of the future of higher education publishing — digital and print — and has well-positioned our university to be on the leading edge.”

—Melea Reicks Licht, Senior Director of Communications, Iowa State University Alumni Association

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