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Morningstar’s mission is to create great products that help investors reach their financial goals. We accomplish this by working directly with investors, as well as the advisors and institutions that serve them. Morningstar magazine is a 60,000+ circulation bimonthly publication that features the best of Morningstar, Inc.’s global reach and thought leadership. It demonstrates the scope of our independent identity and original research aimed at helping financial professionals, including institutional investors and advisors, create better outcomes for their clients. The magazine’s content is structured into four main sections—Dispatches, Spotlight, Strategies, and Investors—each section has a distinct identity. The June/July 2017 issue of Morningstar magazine celebrates the 10th anniversary of the publication. Our editorial team wanted to acknowledge what we have learned from the past, but resist nostalgia and focus on giving readers new research ideas about the future of investing. There are articles in each section of the June/July issue that relate to the 10th anniversary. The Spotlight section covers a wide array of topics, all related to the future of investing. The theme presented a unique design challenge. How do we, on the one hand, design an issue that celebrates 10 years of our magazine being in circulation, while still addressing the editorial theme of looking ahead to the future? Given the breadth and diversity of the articles comprising the Spotlight section, magazine art director Alex Skoirchet believed a more abstract, typographic approach was the best way to represent the section vs. the typical approach of using illustrations.
Using the number 10 as a focal point allowed Skoirchet to create something qualitative and representational. Since the anniversary issue includes content that is reflective and content that is predictive, he wanted to simultaneously honor the 10-year milestone, while looking towards the future. The red 10 on the cover represents the completed 10 years. The metal for 10th anniversaries is aluminum, hence, the silver-gray lettering. The foil type, particularly the artfully spaced ‘tenth anniversary’ type, is designed to allude to the future of investing, and pull readers into the issue. The future of investing theme continues with the gradated metallic 10 in the table of contents, and the white 10 on a metallic ink background that gradates into white. While the future is unknown, Morningstar has strong beliefs on where the financial industry is moving. Articles throughout the magazine that relate to the anniversary are identified with a 10th anniversary emblem.
There was a unique problem to solve with the 10th anniversary issue of Morningstar magazine. The issue needed to celebrate the past ten years of the magazine’s history, while simultaneously addressing the desire to look ahead to the future. The magazine editor-in-chief and publisher influence the art and design requirements of every issue, both through the subject matter that is being featured and the budget that is allocated. Jerry Kerns, our editor-in-chief, partners closely with design to ensure editorial content is represented in a clear, inspiring way that engages our readers. For the anniversary issue, Kerns wanted artwork that reflected the editorial theme, in his words: “For the anniversary issue, we resisted nostalgia. We decided to give our readers new research and ideas about the future of investing. Of course, we acknowledge the past and what we learned.” In particular, Kerns wanted to ensure we conveyed the theme throughout the Spotlight section of the magazine, which contains a series of feature stories, all connected to the future of investing. In addition, magazine publisher Leslie Marshall asked art director Alex Skoirchet to create something different and special that would make the anniversary issue stand out from previous issues. It has been a short time since the publication of the anniversary issue, but we have already received positive feedback from internal stakeholders and from our readers. Kerns is very pleased with the anniversary treatment, so much so that he has asked to repurpose the artwork on special anniversary t-shirts for the entire magazine team. Marshall praised the silver-grey cover treatment, she noted that the shine on the cover not only catches readers’ attention but has a clever twist of also representing the aluminum anniversary (10 years). Morningstar’s chief content officer Sylvester Flood reached out with enthusiasm, “The silver on red/white has really grown on me… I have spent an unknown amount of time just staring at it. Great job, Alex, et al.!” Furthermore, performance metrics show subscriptions are increasing at a faster rate and that our readers are engaging with the anniversary issue across our corporate social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Readers took to Twitter to share their thoughts and photos of their personal copy. Not only did readers appreciate the unique look with comments such as “stands out in a sea of boring” and “beautiful,” but they also understood the underlying message that stems from our mission. As one reader put it, “The future of investing looks promising in embossed silver.” This is the positive reaction we hoped to achieve—for our readers to acknowledge the success of our 10 years while also understanding that Morningstar is committed to helping investors create brighter futures for the next 10 years.