How to Pivot & Successfully Launch a New Brand with GUIDED: Saint Louis Magazine
Novel is the proud publisher of local and regional publications. In 2017, one of our books, ALIVE, pivoted. We took a previously local, city-focused magazine and transformed it into a regionally-focused, internationally-distributed quarterly book. That brave leap left a hole in the local St. Louis market that ALIVE had once occupied. Enter, GUIDED: Saint Louis, a brand new publication. We sat down with the Account & Business Manager, Molly Fontana, to discuss the pivot, why it was successful and what’s next for the brand.
1. Why was it important for Novel to launch GUIDED: Saint Louis?
When we decided to transition ALIVE from a local Saint Louis publication to an elevated niche bookazine, we knew that the audience would shift by design. For over 15 years, we had been a trusted resource for relevant and timely dining, shopping, arts and culture experiences. We wanted to grow in this new regional space with ALIVE but also continue to have our finger on the pulse in Saint Louis, especially since the landscape is always changing. It’s an exciting time to be here and we wanted to celebrate that.
2. Why did you choose to highlight Saint Louis neighborhoods individually?
Each neighborhood has a unique culture and vibe that make it really special. Saint Louis is original in that way. In ten minutes you can go from a bustling, high-energy, fast-paced city environment to a historic, quiet and serene neighborhood park square. Each neighborhood has so much to offer, whether you are a resident or day visitor, and it was important to allow for enough space to tell the whole story and do each neighborhood justice.
3. How do you choose the neighborhoods to highlight?
It’s not an easy process because you have to narrow it down to only six per year. However, each one that we choose feels right in its own way. For example, St. Charles was a featured neighborhood for a few reasons. First, its rapid growth is attracting more and more local “city” business franchises like Climb So iLL and Salt + Smoke. Second, our audience lives predominately further east of St. Charles, so we thought it would be a great way to educate and inspire curiosity around what used to be unfamiliar territory. Another neighborhood we chose was The Delmar Loop. While it is on a projected track of growth with the installation of a new transportation system, the Loop Trolley, it was chosen more for its iconic status. We wanted to remind the city of its historic character and charm but through our fresh, authentic and creative lens.
4. Why is Saint Louis important to Novel as a brand?
It’s where we are rooted. We’ve been talking to this city for almost two decades. We’ve become a part of the fabric and own our threads with great responsibility. That means educating the local community with GUIDED, as well as expanding that reach to a nationwide audience with ALIVE Magazine. And further, working with local brands to help craft their story, propelling Saint Louis as a sought after and attractive city.
5. Talk about some of the steps it took to develop the GUIDED brand.
It was really important that ALIVE and GUIDED exude the same elevated aesthetic since they both share the same publisher, Novel. Novel is unique in that it’s constantly curating the creative team. That’s because we’re always taking on new projects that propel us into unchartered places that require different types of expertise. Our team is a network of passionate artists, designers, influencers, photographers and writers collaborating with shared creative values. It’s a collaborative effort that works because each contribution is meaningful, intentional and personal.
6. How do you choose the partners and advertisers you work with on GUIDED?
It’s less of us choosing them and more, them choosing us! We know there are a lot of quality local content providers to consider; however, we seek out partners that appreciate what makes us different. This means our values align from the start and a strong foundation is set from which we build upon through a trusting and collaborative relationship.
7. What's next for the brand?
Building a community between partners, readers and local experts. We’d like to become an additional resource for our partners by providing relevant and key marketing strategies through expert panel discussions, interviews and networking experiences. We’re also working on a new website and will always have our eyes set on expanding the brand to new cities!