65 years old and Ebony magazine is out to prove it still can make heads turn. The iconic publication has unveiled their first cover-to-cover redesign in an effort to rebound from recent years of underperformance.

As the economic crisis and rise of digital journalism have contributed to the publishing industry’s contraction, Ebony has not been immune.  According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the magazine missed its missed its guaranteed rate base of 1.25 million by an average of 6.5% in the second half of 2009, 10.8% in the first half of 2010 and 20.2% in the second half of 2010.

“A lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, they’re damaged, they’re going to fold,’” says Stephen Gregory Barr, Vice President and Group Publisher for Ebony’s parent company, Johnson Publishing.

However despite industry decline, Ebony has remained a standard in the Black community.  With its new look and format, Ebony hopes to reengage readers and make them fall in love with the brand all over again.

The redesign is part of what has been a larger shift at Johnson Publishing in the last year and a half.  The iconic publishing house that oversees both Ebony and Jet, named former White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers, to take over as CEO last August.

Another key piece of the magazine’s overhaul is Ebony’s Editor-in-Chief, Amy DuBois Barnett who was named to the job last June.  Barnett says Ebony’s redesign goes far beyond a sleek looking cover:

“This is a top-to-bottom redesign, not a small one,” Ms. Barnett said. “This is everything from introducing an evolution of our 65-year-old logo to really taking apart every single page in the magazine and putting it back together with an eye to the brand pillars that we now think best reflect our target demographic.”

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