BACKGROUND & CHALLENGE:
Architectural Digest is a vibrant monthly celebration of international design talents, innovative homes and products, inspiring decorating ideas, culture, and travel. Launched in 1920 as a California trade quarterly, the magazine evolved over the years, increasing in frequency and broadening in scope.
Architectural Digest needed to redefine itself to both advertisers and readers to portray a new image: as a magazine which could have widespread appeal and readership – and not just a book for architects, interior designer, or so-called Park Avenue “matrons”.
Based on a foundation of research, internal interviews and competitive insight, we created several brand positioning ideas and shortlisted to three options.
The first idea ‘Leading the Way’ emphasized the forward-thinking, leadership role AD plays in helping to inspire individuals who are passionate about stylish living in all its forms: from the way they dress, to the way they entertain, to the way they design their homes.
A second idea ’Simply Extraordinary’ focused on AD’s role in helping its readers celebrate a way of living beautifully and beyond the ordinary.
The third – and recommended – brand positioning idea ‘Playbook for living’ captured in a powerful and simple way, the notion of AD as the definitive ‘dream’ book that could direct and guide the essential aspects of how architecture and design unite to create living spaces. The biggest plus of this positioning idea was its ability to appeal broadly a wider class of audiences without alienating its core base of readers who have subscribed to AD for decades.
In 2016, Anna Wintour, now also the artistic director of Condé Nast, approached Amy Astley to become the new editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest. “I really relished the challenge,” Astley said. “I loved that it AD had this legacy and a rich, historic brand.”
Astley has helped Architectural Digest shed its staid and conservative reputation, bringing in new, younger readers while still respecting its longtime devotees. Today, the magazine is more inclusive and colorful, showcasing more women and buzzy celebrities while features that weren’t clicking with the audience have been removed. The ‘Playbook for Living’ brand positioning and definition helped to create not only the foundation for AD’s renaissance but also, a common understanding for the new AD brand.