Work Notes

A Design Refresh for an Alumni Magazine

Response Magazine (Fall/Winter 2021)

Seattle Pacific University is a small, faith-based liberal arts school, ranked nationally among Christian universities for its tech, medical research, and humanitarian focuses. 

If there were a litmus test for most compelling alumni magazine, SPU would sit proudly atop those rankings as well. 

Having undergone a university-wide rebrand—a new logo, typography, color palette, and brand language—the next step for Seattle Pacific University was to upgrade the medium for their alumni communications. They reached out to Journey Group with the goal of rebranding their alumni magazine, Response

With the rebrand of Response, Seattle Pacific University had two goals: (1) a redesign to reflect the school rebrand, and (2) a unique, compelling publication from issue to issue. Telling fresh stories about Seattle Pacific University’s impact on students in the city of Seattle gives credence to their place there.  

Many of the stories in Response focus on Seattle itself, campus news, and alumni who have graduated and are doing amazing things in the world. The magazine is the vehicle the school uses to highlight those stories, which, in turn, creates a positive relationship and engagement with alumni. 

How to Rebrand a Magazine

Prompted by a desire to inspire a new generation of students to hold onto orthodox values in a quickly evolving society, SPU understood the need for a fresh look. The school leaned on Journey Group to help them strike that balance in a magazine overhaul. From a forgettable palette of maroon and white and a stock type to a warm, cohesive color scheme that highlighted the revamped torch logo, SPU ensured their new brand spoke to both their heritage and their future.

Journey Group reorganized the magazine, creating new departments, layouts, styles, typefaces, and color palettes, all to align with the university’s new look. 

Mindful unpredictability provokes engagement.

While the organization of the layouts may change from issue to issue, each department has the same editorial ingredients: the type, the font, the color palette, and the basic structure of columns. With Journey Group’s design direction, Response magazine visually changes from page to page within one issue, and from issue to issue. Mindful unpredictability provokes engagement. 

Each design choice made by the Journey Group team reflects the theme of the issue and the SPU brand message. With such thoughtful engagement from the SPU team and Journey Group designers, Response avoids looking like every other alumni magazine. 

Winning Design for an Alumni Magazine

Journey Group specializes in higher-education publications. It would be easy for the work of designing alumni magazines to become rote; to merely flow content into a template. But the Journey Group team approaches each publication with thoughtful attention to detail and brand distinctives. Journey Group learns and respects clients’ stories and takes pride in participating in the unfolding of a vision. The team values creating design within a brand system but making each layout fresh and sophisticated.  

“When we see something new and fresh and beautiful, our body reacts to it before our brain can even process it or make sense of it.”
— Mike Ryan, Studio Director and Principal Designer

Mike Ryan, director of Journey Group’s editorial studio, explains that beauty is almost an unconscious thing that our bodies respond to: “When we see something new and fresh and beautiful, our body reacts to it before our brain can even process it or make sense of it.” That instinctive response is why the Journey Group team pays such careful attention to detail, in every issue for every publication. The design honors that immediate response to beauty, whether in the curve of a handsome typeface or the colors of a custom illustration. 

Regardless of the form, beauty draws us in; it gets our attention and keeps it, which remains a perpetual need in the world of periodicals.