Elbowruminations finds itself on the subscribing end of two of the most popular business magazines in Calgary. In this post, we’ve decided to pit these competing publications against each other in an all-out, five round, no holds barred, graphic design grappling match to see who looks good in print and who gets shredded! It may sound dangerous to you, and that’s because it is. Read on at your own risk.
Now entering the ring is a 124-page heavyweight that goes by the name of “Business in Calgary.” A monthly publication by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, we will soon discover if its business roots and storied heritage make it a fierce competitor. Among its listed demographics, it seems that 35 to 44 year olds are the majority of the people that turn its pages on a regular basis, making up 35% of their readership.
In the other corner, Calgary Inc weighs in at a respectable 50 pages. Also a monthly offering, this magazine is backed by the people at Red Point Media. This entry is known for engaging people who are typically forty or younger.
In this match, each competitor will be scored on five main categories: Colour, Fonts, Photography, Layout, and Writing. Each publication can earn a maximum of five points per category for a top score of 25. Let the best magazine win.
Round #1: Colour
Business in Calgary typically uses a variety of unimaginative colours for their publication. Typically, dark orange and brown wordmarks grace the covers, and these conservative colours are also employed on the inside pages. Solid elements (including squares and thick borders) are loyally filled with solid, dependable colours from a fairly predictable palette. 2 points awarded for satisfactory, yet mediocre colour use.
Calgary Inc uses bright and flashy tones that vary from issue to issue. Yellow, light orange and green are carried through each issue with flair. Each article generally uses a unique identity with a prominent colour scheme. 5 points for fun and fresh colours that make every article a lively experience.
Round #2: Fonts
Business in Calgary again stays very placid in its font usage. A diverse library of different fonts is used in every issue, but the fonts used are not exceptional, and are sometimes poorly decorated with text art and drop shadow. 3 points.
Calgary Inc is daring and bold with its font usage. Each magazine department is branded with its own font, making it easy to know where one article stops and another begins. Informational hierarchy through font sizes, colours and sizes are deployed in a well-managed style sheet. The fonts used are new and fresh. 5 points!
Round #3: Photography
Cover photography is a major downfall with Business in Calgary magazine. While professional enough in quality, each photograph includes unimaginative set-ups, and outdated subjects and uninspiring colours. Most subjects being photographed are wearing tweed suits, plaid shirts, or over-sized spectacles. The most recent Business in Calgary issue combines a field of cattle with another photo of two green-screened subjects. The result is disappointing result with obvious visual problems. With the amount of breath-taking terrain in the vicinity of Calgary, why not take this photo live and in person? 1 point.
Calgary Inc doesn’t typically rely on live subjects for their front covers ,but often combine photo objects and modern stock shots with interactive text and graphic elements. When Calgary Inc does use real people on their cover, lighting and backgrounds are engaging and powerful. Photography inside the magazine is colour or object co-ordinated, and filled with bright faces. 5 points out of five.
Round #4: Layout
The layout used by Business in Calgary is cluttered with ads and advertising features that make it difficult to know what’s featured and what’s being sold. In fact, the majority of content in this magazine is advertising, but once you find the articles, they are suitably enhanced with graphics and drop quotes. The serif drop-cap is an overused element, but overall the layout receives a reasonable 4 out of 5.
Calgary Inc’s layout is well-planned and dynamic. Perhaps the lack of advertisers equates to more elbow room for creativity. Each article is styled with unique illustrations, useful statistics, and relevant photos with rounded corners and overlapping elements. 4 points (one point deducted for having more room to work with).
Round #5: Writing
Both magazines offer solid writing styles from skilled people, providing well-written content geared towards business-minded readers. However, the features from Calgary Inc are always accompanied by succinct sidebar summaries which provide advice and insight extracted from the articles. Business in Calgary tend to simply tell stories, and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. For people on the go, Calgary Inc’s writing is much more accessible. 5 points for Calgary Inc, 4 points for Business in Calgary.
Let’s see who won this match, it’s time to tabulate the points.
Business In Calgary: 10 points
Calgary Inc: 24 points
Calgary Inc wins this bout with a terrific 24 out of 25 possible points. With an attitude that seems to be in touch with its readership, and a gutsy design strategy, this is a publication with a talented group of designers and a management team with a finger on the pulse of the city. Let’s hope Business In Calgary can learn some lessons from this bout, and channel their energy into producing a magazine that looks as fresh, vibrant and engaging as the business community it attempts to serve.