Print Magazine Design for College Preparatory School
- Other Design
- $10,000 to $49,999
- June 2018 - Mar. 2019
- Willing to Refer
"The team always manages to elicit a delighted "Oh wow!" response from us..."
- Middlebury, Connecticut
- 51-200 Employees
- Online Review
Opus Design has supported the creation of a bi-annual print publication. They’ve also helped develop a style guide and various branding elements (e.g. logo and wordmark).
The magazine has received more positive responses from external stakeholders since the engagement began. Since the beginning, Opus Design has been invested in gaining an in-depth understanding of the brand. Their accommodating working style has fostered a true partnership.
The client submitted this review online.
Please describe your company and your position there.
I am the Associate Director of Advancement Communications at Westover School, an all-girls, independent, college preparatory school in Middlebury, Connecticut. In addition to coordinating external media communications, I also coordinate the design of various internal printed materials, assist in providing some news-related content for our website, and provide support for school-sponsored events.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
For what projects/services did your company hire Opus Design?
Westover hired Opus Design as our principal print designers. We worked with them to develop the style guide for our printed materials, the redesign of our wordmark, logo, and branding elements, and the overall design of several major print pieces, primarily our twice-a-year Westover Magazine, which is distributed to alumnae, parents, and other constituencies of the School.
What were your goals for this project?
We wanted to develop a fresh look for our Magazine that would be appealing and accessible to alumnae ranging from the classes of the 1930s through our current decade, as well as parents of alumnae and current students, prospective students and their families, and other constituencies.
How did you select this vendor?
Representatives of our Administrative Team (primarily our Director of Advancement Communications, Director of Alumnae Relations, and our Director of Admissions) worked with an outside consultant to select and meet with several design firms that had extensive experience working with independent schools on marketing and design projects.
Opus was selected based on their innovative, fresh approaches to a range of printed materials, as well as their ability to tailor their design work to fit the individual brands of their clients.
Describe the project in detail.
Westover Magazine is a twice-a-year print publication ranging from 60 to 96 pages in size. Each issue is built around a theme reflected in its lead content. Working over time with our team at Opus, we have created sections (a "cover story" section, news from school, news about alumnae, class notes) that allow for the Magazine to be assembled in sections over the course of several months.
Content (photography, stories) are supplied by the School’s Advancement Communications team, working with the Alumnae Office, other departments, and outside professionals (such as photographers for special events, etc.). The content is then supplied to Opus, which creates the look of each section.
The production of each Magazine actually begins with special attention to the issue's cover content – how best to convey that issue's theme (photography, graphic art, etc.) and Opus's team will then often use elements of the cover treatment throughout the various sections to support and reinforce them theme throughout the publication.
While the school's team is responsible for the overall content, our Opus counterparts give us a lot of guidance, suggestions, and requests regarding the details of the content – especially images, pull-quotes, etc.
What was the team composition?
While I am the primary contact for our team of four content suppliers from within the school (in terms of written content, proofing, photography), we work with primarily two members of the Opus staff – an art director and a designer – who create the layouts for our review and proofing. We also use an outside professional editor to review all written content who also serves as an additional set of eyes for proofing layout, etc.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?
Over the last several years since Opus has been responsible for our Magazine design, we have received an increasingly favorable response from our alumnae and other constituencies to both the content and design of the publication. The response from our readers have been that the Magazine's look and content has included such phrases as exciting, vibrant, accessible, eye-catching, etc.
The response is a marked enhancement to the responses from our readers to our previous designer's publications, which, while overall positive, elicited more frequent complaints about readability and the "busy-ness" and dullness of the Magazine's design.
While the school's current communications team has had a hand in that enhanced perception of the magazine, the talents and vision of our colleagues at Opus Design have to be credited with the physical transformation of our Magazine. To put it simply, they have worked hard to "get" us – our School's culture, our mission, our brand – and they use their design ingenuity to capture it all in our Magazine.
How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?
We have developed a close working relationship – a true sense of teamwork – that enables us to develop a good routine in terms of deadlines, work flow issues, etc.
When occasional problems of meeting deadlines or content quality arise, as they inevitably will, we can feel comfortable addressing the problems the moment they arise and look for solutions in a collegial way. We look together for suitable "plan b" options, adjust accordingly, and – for the most part – are able to find solutions and stay on task to meet deadline targets.
The key is to come up with a deadline schedule and content ladder that is reasonable and doable as the first order of business. This is reviewed, revised, and agreed upon before anything else is undertaken. That all but eliminates major problems from cropping up as the project proceeds.
What did you find most impressive about this company?
The team always manages to elicit a delighted "Oh wow!" response from us when we see their design work, even when we have had an active role in shaping the content and the direction of the design. That's a sign of their creative vision, their sparkling design sense, and their out-of-the-box imaginations.
At the same time, working with them doesn't have the usual "client/vendor" dynamic ... essentially, we feel we are working more as colleagues. That makes for a very satisfying working relationship.
Are there any areas for improvement?
As with much of today's working environment, for awhile virtually all of our communications were being done via email communications. That sometimes led to back-and-forth discussions that took more time and effort than I found necessary.
In the last year, I have been delighted to discover that they really are completely open to my occasional request for more frequent one-on-one phone conversations to resolve questions or concerns. In looking back, I think I was mistaking their use of email communications as their not being open to verbal communications. That misunderstanding is on me, not Opus.
Service & Deliverables
"They have enhanced our Magazine design with each succeeding issue, they have been open to adjustments, they ask questions that help us refine our work"
On time / deadlines
"They meet deadlines faithfully and because of their example, encourage us to meet our deadlines for them more faithfully."
Value / within estimates
"Their pricing is reasonable based on the quality of the resulting work."
Willing to Refer5.0
"They are talented, open, think-outside-the box, always engaged, and always professional. Their patience and sense of humor is an added bonus.