We all have place-holders in our lives. Events, times, places, faces, and people that can instantly take us back to the emotion and air of a place and time in our lives. We also have things that were unintentional pace keepers like; holidays, teachers, traditions and family. I can clearly remember grabbing an Ebony magazine from the mailbox and seeing on the cover someone that represented the best of what my life could be, and in more ways exactly what my life was. Ebony represented our collective arrival in the black community. It shined a light on our viability and extolled our value.
Times have tick-tocked and pop-locked into quite a different configuration right about now. There is probably an entire generation that doesn't get Ebony in the mail let alone in their lives. I think it's in some ways sad but in some ways understandable. How do magazines fit in our lives these days? Better question still, how do our lives encompass any less than required reading whatsoever? News, politics, current events and the most pressing matters of life itself are expected to be surmised perfectly -- sans waste in 140 character or less. Most truly feel anything more is an egregious offense of precious time that could be better spent following and replying to memes that are as narrowly ranging from #Beyoncesbootysize to the epically urgent #firstdatequestions.
But I severely digress. It's OK because I just predicted you wouldn't read this far anyway. On the redesign of Ebony Magazine it is as important as it is deceivingly irrelevant. Ebony is a stalwart, a once defining force in America. Its redesign could herald a new age. Design has increasingly meant macro-digital and micro-societal to me these days. There was a time I would lament font choice and grid structure ad nuaseum. And there's a place for that. The redesign is gorgeous. The cover feels a little crowded if not overly market safe, aka cover all the bases -- make sure there's something for everybody on the front of this puppy. But that's the marketing part we all have to swallow these days. I with the cover type was handled more stylishly like Esquire Magazine. Esquire simply owns the type heavy nature of cover and incorporates it seamlessly into the design but it is given a balance and structure in its execution & feels very complimentary to the photography. The redesigned Ebony's internal sections are masterpieces of scale color and style. They embody just enough historical design references and forward feeling modernism to be held up against the best in the biz, bare none!
The stellar lead team: Amy DuBois Barnett - Editor-in-Chief, Terry Glover - Managing Editor & Darhil Crooks - Creative Director really understand the language, cadence and the power of presentation as it relates to magazines. They put their collective thug thizzle down. The new logo is quite refined and represents a new course very well. It's not my favorite look of a magazine header but I get it. I wish the weights were less extreme in the type. But just one look at the cover and you feel the new energy and never miss a beat in seeing a well-established favorite.
To me, these days a redesign of something of this stature and importance means a retreading of all aspects of every touchpoint. I do understand they have begun this wonderful ride in a grand fashion. I understand there is an App and more in place. Yet in still I wonder about things like groundbreaking Ebony Fashion Fair. It should be retooled to it's original grandeur and redirected to a younger audience. Perhaps an online and televised version. Ebony's social media platform should be massive. Wouldn't it be interesting to see them step in and take over where Omar Wasow's Black Planet fell off. Black Planet was at one time the most visited web site in the world. But it turned into a "hook up" site and interest waned allowing Myspace and subsequently Facebook to eat it's two-piece dinner along with it's two vegetable sides and biscuit. There are tons of hungry little start ups looking at Ebony and it's digital space with greedy eyes that ask, "Are you gonna eat yo co'nbread?"
There's definitely a large space to be filled by Ebony, just by the sheer prominence of its well-tended brand. It's historical content alone if applied in a dynamic fashion like Tahir Hemphill's Hip Hop Word Count Project or some variation thereof, could be astounding and offer immediate currency in terms of greater relevancy and traction into the digital future. There's a million and one new options out there just waiting for Ebony to create a new social institution & cultural empire from its powerful publishing legacy. I think this is the team to do it. If not gimme a call, I got some ideas.