From client to creative direction to commissioning illustrators and finally, print, see how we rebranded the magazine of a UK discretionary fund manager mailed to their network twice a year.
Back in 2013, we were approached by Standard Life Wealth who was looking for a way to provide tailored investment content to their high net worth client base biannually. Working closely with the client, who had recently undergone a major rebrand, we explored new ways to bring intelligent, challenging investment content to life.
A combination of subject matter steeped in finance (not the most visually promising terrain… assets classes or pensions regulation anybody?), and a visually literate client who trusted our creative and editorial direction resulted in the birth of Portfolio.
Daringly, we decided to lead with illustration for every issue, working with an international roster of illustrators including Noma Bar, Raymond Biesinger, Borja Bonaque, Nathalie Lees and Gracia Lam. Their styles are quite diverse, but through skillful commissioning, underpinned by subtle use of the brand’s core and secondary color palettes, Portfolio has retained its distinctive look and feel.
Commissioning is an organic process. With every project we strive to ensure there’s a strong connection between the content and the form, the writer and the image maker, whether they be an illustrator or photographer.
We work closely with the client on the theme and content for each issue; once a synopsis is established, the Bookmark team approach the illustrator and discuss the brief. There are times when giving an illustrator the freedom to develop their own concepts can bring stunning results; at others it’s a collaborative process. Two heads are usually better than one, provided you are not so prescriptive that you end up suffocating the illustrator’s unique style and vision. And even though the infographics and Data Stories (which have an afterlife on social) are produced in-house, the briefing process works in the same way.
Sometimes our cover illustrations are thematic, embracing content throughout the book – but for this particular issue we led with one story. The cover idea came early. While reading through first drafts of copy and synopsis, I happened across the term ‘tech unicorns’ – finance-speak for privately-owned start-ups worth over $1 billion.
We commissioned young London illustrator Jack Bedford and as soon as we saw his roughs realized that this would be a stunning cover.
Jack points out, “As someone who’s very much on the outer circle of the financial sector, looking in – illustrating financial matters is definitely a challenge, but a good one. When dealing with complex subject topics, like Tech Unicorns – I try to distill the information down to its simplest form, creating a visual which complements the article and presents the information in a bitesize chunk, that can grab the readers’ attention and make them want to find out more about the subject on show. “
Here at Bookmark, we take an omni-channel approach to commissioning illustration and infographics, at all times ensuring any visual content that we commission has life beyond the page, and can live on as part of an animated element on social or in video and help amplify our clients’ stories in all the right places and at the right times. Jack’s unicorn illustration for example is a complex image – but will be spliced into a series of components for other channels.
This issue of the magazine posed a further creative challenge – it had to reflect the rebrand of Standard Life Wealth as Aberdeen Standard Capital. And so Portfolio was re-badged as Capital Thinking with a distinctive new masthead – and a cover image that is as clever as it is beautiful.
Bookmark works with brands to develop customized content programs that resonate with their audiences and drive engagement, turning every activation into a compelling and measurable experience.