Less is not More.
That thought drove Meredith Corp.'s More magazine to give itself a makeover with new sections, layout, fonts and logo as well as a higher circulation rate base. The title for women older than 40 is determined to stand out in a competitive women's lifestyle category with rivals like O, Real Simple, InStyle and Organic Style.
“My goal was if somebody was reading this magazine over your shoulder on the subway, you couldn't mistake it for anything else, and you'd say 'that's More magazine,'” said editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop in New York. “That's really important for magazines to do in this crowded marketplace, and that's to have a unique visual vocabulary.”
Northrop, who was editor of Organic Style before her April arrival at More, enlisted magazine designer Robert Priest's help in her new job. Priest, who was the creative director of Esquire, recently designed O at Home magazine through his Priest Media firm.
Northrop was clear in her mission: contemporize the look and feel of a 10-times-a-year title whose rate base has tripled from 320,000 at its founding to 1 million with the November issue. Ad pages, too, were up 33 percent last year.
She and the More team initiated the makeover by giving Priest a list of words to work on: “bold,” “elegant,” “modern” and “colorful.”
“I felt strongly that the content of the magazine was very strong and that we had an authentic connection with our readers,” she said. “But the look needed to be refreshed, made more modern. We wanted something that was very modern and rich and strong, but not unfeminine.”
The new logo, more than anything, embodies the spirit of the improved More. The typeface is changed to Gotham and larger on the cover, and the “M” in More is uppercase. The old logo looked staid, though the magazine was launched as recently as 1999.
“It looked dated,” Northrop said. “It looked fat, unappealing. It wasn't graceful anymore. Now it doesn't look wooden.”
The new logo sits on a cover with a slightly different UV coating that is more matte finish. In feel it is close to Esquire but not as matte as Real Simple. The old cover until the October issue was glossy. Inside, the photography is more graphic and sophisticated, and more color is used.
More also changed the way it treats departments, as those leafing through the book will know when they are in a department.
Also, sections set off from one another. The “Notebook” section in front has been renamed “More Now.” The standalone beauty and fashion section now is called “More Style.” In the back of the book, “Vital & Vibrant” has a new moniker: “Body + Mind.”
“We're beefing up that section,” Northrop said. “It's not just health news, but fiction and nutrition and sexual health, recognizing these are issues for readers. We're not taking things from anywhere in the magazine, but we're emphasizing things in the magazine and placing it here.”
Finally, the signature back page has been titled “Next.” Celebrities are invited to re-imagine their life. The November issue features actress Bebe Neuwirth dressed as a sword-wielding samurai.
More is also engaging its target audience. The More 40+ Model Search, for example, generated 15,000 entries this year, up from 10,000 in 2003. The inaugural More Marathon in March for women older than 40 attracted 2,600 runners. And the second annual More Alpha Woman Award was given April 26 to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Women in their 30s were bedeviled by insecurities of their looks, and once they hit their 40s, they just come into a much more confident sense of themselves,” Northrop said.
The November issue's cover lines provide insight into More readers' concerns: “Beauty at every age: Our 40+ Model Search winners have the secret — and so can you”; “Get emotional about money: How feelings can help your cash flow”; and “20 rules of grown-up love.”
On the cover is a close-up shot of actress Annette Bening smiling. The cover line quotes her: “The triumph is in knowing yourself.” A larger line proclaims: “Annette Bening just gets better.”
“I think it's important to understand in this magazine it's not age, it's an attitude,” Northrop said. “You think about these women who are at the peak of their earning power. They're resourceful, more educated, more influential, more stylish.
“It's this sensibility we're appealing to. I don't want to look like my 11-year-old, and I also don't want to look like my 70-year-old mom, much as I adore her. We're grown up, we care about style and we care about the way we look, and for most of us, we feel better about ourselves.”