“This cover, perhaps more than any other that I’m aware of, was a full team effort,” replied graphic designer Bob Coady when I emailed him to let him know that the cover of the January/February 2015 issue of Canadian Geographic had won gold in the general interest category of the latest Canadian Cover Awards on March 22.
Bob, along with his business partner Scott Acker, were the creative directors of the magazine then, admirably holding the fort while the magazine transitioned between art directors. And, indeed, this cover was truly the result of an atypical collaboration with a wide-range of team members — and an unprecedentedly last-minute tweak.
The day the issue was going to press, magazine newsstand guru Scott Bullock (now an advisor working with us) was in our office giving a presentation on what makes for successful magazine covers. Our team shared with him a number of covers we were working on at the time, including the January/February 2015 one, which we’d already shipped to the printer, to get his expert feedback.
Bullock immediately questioned our main cover line for the issue, which read “Beauty or beast? Exploring our love hate relationship with the wolf”. Cover lines should be simple and straightforward, he said – they should cut directly to the focus of the story. Bullock suggested a revision: Change the main line to simply “The wolf” and alter the accompanying line to “Exploring our love-hate relationship.”
Enter art director Javier Frutos, then just days on the job, to enlist his immediate help to redesign the treatment of the new cover line, while I contacted the magazine’s production coordinator Kendra Stieler to ask the printer to hold the cover while we quickly reworked it. A quick back and forth with Bullock and the now award winning cover was shipped back to the printer.
Of course, it’s hard to determine exactly what impact the last-minute tweak had on the cover’s ultimate success (the issue sold nearly twice as many copies on the newsstand as the same issue from the previous year), but it surely only helped. It was, too, only a small part of a much larger process that, beyond those already mentioned, also included photo editor Jessica Finn sourcing great photography, an amazing image (in this case from photographer John E. Marriott), circulation manager Nathalie Cuerrier, our circulation advisors from St. Joseph Communications, publisher Gilles Gagnier, and the Canadian Geographic community who participate in our online cover vote (check out the blog I wrote on that process for this award winning cover for even more insight into the process).
Indeed, as Bob Coady noted, this award winning cover was the result of a team effort even beyond what’s typical. And to me, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting recognition of great teamwork.