Celebrating eight years since its inception, a redesigned Creative Boom launched this week, as part of a wider brand refresh that has been rolled out across its website, social media channels and email newsletters.
Created by its sister company, Boomerang (a PR and digital communications agency based in Manchester) the fresh approach provides a cleaner, easier to navigate design that also adds personality to better reflect the ethos of the magazine – to celebrate, inspire and support the creative community.
We spoke to Katy Cowan, Founding Editor of Creative Boom, to find out more…
Can you give us a potted history of the site from origins to today?
Creative Boom launched in July 2009 after the global recession and was very much a passion project. I had been freelancing for two years, had some spare time on my hands and wanted to create a platform that would support the creative community (because in those post-recession days, many freelancers were struggling). It was immediately well received and has since grown to become an established magazine with inspiration, tips, and resources for graduates, freelancers, and independents, and half a million monthly readers.
Today, I act as editor and have a team of writers – some freelance, some in-house – and we have a designer (Samantha Wilkinson) and developer (my husband Tom). We try to post five times every weekday and have a regular routine of sharing one tips article and one interview article per week, which we include in our weekly newsletter every Tuesday. We work to an editorial calendar – this month, we’re focused on the art of selling… just in time for Christmas.
I’m amazed to see how much Creative Boom has grown over the last eight years. It’s wonderful to see it evolving but sticking to its original ethos: to celebrate, inspire and support the creative community.
You worked on the redesign with Manchester creative Samantha Wilkinson, how did that collaboration come about, and was it necessary to get an outside perspective?
Samantha is part of the team at The Chase in Manchester, where we’ve worked with her on various projects through our PR and digital agency, Boomerang. She’s a great designer and good friend. When I mentioned my desire to redesign Creative Boom, she wanted to get involved in her spare time and so that’s how it all began.
We sat down and started throwing some ideas around. It was wonderful to get an outside perspective and have someone who wasn’t too close to the magazine. Obviously, I had my own input, but Samantha was really creative and threw in loads of fresh ideas that really exceeded the original brief.
We spent months working on the design. I gave her no deadline, so she could have the time and space to create something really special. We’d regularly meet up after work to discuss progress. And more ideas would develop. It was a lot of fun and hugely worthwhile.
Samantha has since decided to go freelance and is going to become our ‘resident’ designer.
The boom ‘OO’ eyes provide great personality, how did they come about and do you have more planned for them?
When I sat down with Samantha to discuss the brief, I explained how Creative Boom has always been friendly and approachable; a warm reassuring hug for the creative community – and how I’d love that personality to come across in the new design. But with a magazine, you obviously don’t want to upstage the content. And we certainly didn’t want to be too cheesy, as I felt we’d done a lot of ‘growing up’ in recent years. I explained how I didn’t want to deviate too much from the existing branding, but add to it – perhaps with a fun icon that we could introduce as an avatar on social media and in other parts of our identity.
Samantha went away and came back with three or four ideas, one of which was a super clean layout with a bright colour palette and awesome typography and then these cute little eyes. When she explained how she envisaged them moving left to right as people scrolled content, I knew we’d found the perfect brand mascot. She even went to the trouble of creating little favicons – an eye that’s awake when you’re on Creative Boom, or asleep when you’re away.
When we later came to build the site at Boomerang, it was my husband Tom – the developer – who brought the icon to life. He came up with the idea of the eyes following the mouse cursor around the screen, and from moving from the main type logo to the icon as you scroll, and back again.
As the icon is completely new, we spent the four weeks leading up to launch sharing teasers of the new ‘eyes’ using our fresh new colour palette. ‘Keep your eyes peeled’, for instance, involved the eyes literally peeling back.
As for future plans for the icon, yes! We have plenty of ideas in mind. Starting with a festive inspired interpretation. I’m so happy that we can be so creative with such a simple feature.
How important do you think blogging is these days? Any predictions on how things might change?
Super important. I think running any type of blog, platform or publication is essential. Content is crucial for getting your name out there, staying in touch with the creative community and sharing your skills and expertise. How will it change? The cream will rise to the top, so we all have to pull our socks up and do our very best.
As someone very active on twitter – any thoughts on our industries relationship with social media? (healthy? necessary? inevitable? troubled?)
Twitter has always been extremely good to us. It was how we built an audience initially, and it continues to be a fantastic resource. I think because we’ve always been incredibly positive and good-humoured on Twitter, we’ve rarely come across any negativity. I want Creative Boom to be a space where we can support one another. How we are on Twitter is definitely part of our brand personality – friendly, approachable and fun.