Bloomberg Businessweek relaunches with new design

The business magazine that embraced experimental graphics – while producing some of the most celebrated covers of recent years – resets its course, as a new-look design is unveilved

A redesigned Bloomberg Businessweek hits newsstands tomorrow as part of a wider relaunch that incorporates a new app, website and ‘Daily IQ’ email newsletter. The approach to the magazine is heralded as “a cleaner, easier-to-navigate design” while, in her editor’s letter, Megan Murphy refers to its “more consistent design … richer graphics and photography”.

Murphy also writes that the aim of the redesign, led by Creative Director Robert Vargas, was to make both navigation and the overall reading experience clearer.

And from the first images of the new print issue released today, it’s apparent that the visual direction BBW has taken over the last few years has moved into more refined, minimalist territory.

The new look appears to be more pared back than its predecessor – the tone of the spreads CR has seen seem to have been dialled down considerably since the days when the design team wouldn’t think twice about putting two planes having sex on the cover.

In April 2010, British designer Richard Turley established one of the most talked-about redesigns of recent times for BBW, conjuring up bold type treatments, stretched graphics and decidedly messed-with photography. (Our 2013 interview with him is here.)

Brought in by Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine’s then new editor, the pair mined an experimental approach. As we wrote, the release of a new BBW cover image became an event in itself, with the often controversial, often silly – but rarely dull – imagery garnering much attention on social media.

In 2012, the team won a Yellow Pencil at D&AD for its special issue marking the death of Steve Jobs, while a year later in CR Annual, the BBW in-house design team was chosen as our Design Studio of the Year.

Turley then left in 2014 and Businessweek promoted two of its design team, Vargas and Tracy Ma, to creative director and deputy creative director, respectively. Ma left in 2016 for Matter Studios and is now a freelance graphic designer.

In the relaunch video on the BBW site, Murphy adds that the impetus for the redesign was to “update and take the magazine forward to reflect the times that we’re in” and that the team took a “rigorous look at how we present our content. We want the design to help the journalism shine through.”

While the images shown here of course don’t convey the whole issue – nor reflect the overall design direction taken – it’s clear that a new course has been set. With a refocusing on rigour and the writing perhaps taking even more of a front seat, might the move reflect a desire to return to a more serious proposition?

In terms of mirroring “the times that we’re in” – perhaps even print media’s current standing in the eyes of one particularly vocal American – this regrouping could well prove to be a formidable new direction.

See bloomberg.com/businessweek

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Last week I was a judge on the Magazine and Newspaper Design category for this year’s D&AD awards. Our jury gave out one Yellow Pencil, to Bloomberg Businessweek’s special issue marking the death of Steve Jobs. Here’s why I thought it deserved the award.

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Creative Lead

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