What’s an online brand magazine? In a word, it’s an editorial product designed and produced by a brand but which focuses on original and unique niche content that isn’t geared toward selling or marketing the brand. Think of it as like a news or features magazine–Time or People–published by a product manufacturer.
The news is objective. The features are every bit as interesting as those you’ll read in your local newspaper sections. And the content is written by professional freelance writers.
I like this idea because it satisfies the desire for original, unique content for brands while satisfying the demands of Google and other search engines to produce content that is focused on reader needs rather than brand propaganda. Brands have finally figured out that they are publishers and have begun to act like it.
Here are 5 really cool and classy brand magazines online:
- CocaCola Journey – CocaCola breaks the cardinal rule and talks about itself a lot, but it does it in a way that makes it seem like news. In other words, the content is written like a news article, or at least a news feature, and displayed with eye-catching graphics. Plus, most of it is written by a bylined writer. The layout and design is very much like a magazine with distinct categories that you might find in your local daily newspaper:
- Beauty Recommended – This magazine is published by Procter and Gamble, one of the largest companies in the U.S. This magazine is consumer-centric and publishes some of the best articles on beauty you’ll find online.Sample articles include:
- How to pamper stressed out skin
- Step by step how to do a braided topknot
- What beauty decade are you?
Think Cosmopolitan without every third article being about sex.
- Intuit Quickbooks – Okay, so this one doesn’t have a fancy name like CocaCola Journey or Beauty Recommended, but it’s still a classy magazine. If you know Quickbooks, then you know how serious Intuit is about helping small businesses stay abreast of their finances. The focus on this magazine is on publishing articles that address topics of interest to small business owners, with a slight tilt toward financial information. Full disclosure: I have a few bylines in this one.
- The Costco Connection –
You likely need no introduction to The Costco Connection. This online magazine is published by the popular retail chain and actually looks like a magazine in digital format. You can flip pages, zoom in on the articles, and read the magazine online just as you would a real magazine–except that you can’t hold it in your hands. The presentation is very professional and features typical magazine sections with the name “Connection” in their titles.
- Consumer Connection
- Financial Connection
- Tech Connection
Other sections and articles include Informed Debate, Fresh Views, Content Marketing, For Your Health, and What’s New At Costco.
The magazine is a blend of lifestyle features and insight into Costco products, culture, and membership. It’s essentially the print magazine online.
- Out Here Magazine – Another brand magazine that started out in print and moved online is Out Here Magazine by Tractor Supply. Billed as the magazine that celebrates the rural lifestyle, Out Here online showcases some of the best articles in each quarterly issue to be found in the free print publication. Information includes fire safety tips, how-to-grow articles, recycling, features on interesting rural residents, livestock feeding and care, deer spotting, fishing, horses, crafts, and much more.
Branded online magazines are the latest trend in content publishing. It’s better than content marketing, in my opinion. It’s a long-term strategy for positioning a brand as an expert source of information on a niche product, and you can even turn it into its own separate revenue stream with the right resources.