Dumbo powerhouse creative agency Huge announced yesterday it would begin publishing an online magazine on the topic of design. It’s called Magenta and it debuted pre-stocked with content with titles like “Why I Wish I’d Designed This Magical App,” “Instagram is Too Mainstream” and “A Day in the Life of Tobias Frere-Jones.”
This isn’t your average agency blog. The content is of high production value, high-quality. Take one look and you might think it was one of the more traditional publications on Medium’s platform — you wouldn’t guess that it’s run by a creative agency. Say hello to the future of content?
“Companies want to own some of their own narrative,” explained Erin Collier, Magenta’s executive editor, in an interview yesterday. “It’s so easy to do now. They want to be out there with a message and shape it themselves, rather than wait for the media to come.”
— Huge (@hugeinc) October 11, 2016
Magenta joins a growing number of publications built on Medium, the ultra-simple publishing platform created by Twitter cofounder Evan Williams. Medium is unique as a publishing platform in that it encourages readers, as well as publishers, to stay on the platform and explore, suggesting related content on the platform at the end of articles, promoting some posts and allowing posts to be tagged by topic. Recently, several major publications have decided to move to or launch on Medium, most notably The Awl, which moved from its own website to Medium this spring. One of the first Medium-only publications was tech news site Backchannel, which was bought by Conde Nast this year.
Collier said that choice to publish on Medium was made in part because there’s already an audience there, writing about the same issues Magenta will explore.
“The design and developer community on Medium is already really strong and there are some things that we think we have a unique point of view on,” Collier said. “It’s about and for the people who are building all the tech products we use on an everyday basis. [We want to write about] any insight we have on them we think can create value.”
Collier has had a long career in media, most recently as a senior editor for Fast Company and earlier as a financial reporter for the Wall Street Journal. She said the Magenta editorial team will consist of her and four others, many of whom also have experience in journalism.
The outlet will be written by members of the Magenta editorial staff, guest writers from the company’s 1,500 employees and outside pitches. It will focus on five areas of interest: tech, which will discuss the new technologies of the day; coping, which will explore the high-stress world of living in and around startups; process, which will go into design and design thinking; features, which will report on interesting people and developments in the scene; and envy, which will be discussions with designers about products they love and wished they’d designed.
According to Collier, Magenta will be completely editorially independent from Huge and will not run sponsored content from its clients.
“Who we decide to feature is based entirely on our editorial discretion, taking into account whatever input we get from our colleagues at Huge about who they want to see featured,” she said.
Editorial sites for non-editorial companies is both a new trend and a long-standing institution. Recently acquired Dollar Shave Club started men’s-interest Mel Magazine, also on Medium, last year, and Snapchat did something similar, launching the still-kinda-mysterious Real Life Mag a few months ago. But, Collier noted, the idea of offering a fuller service for readers and clients can be traced back to in-flight magazines airlines used to, and sometimes still do, provide to customers during flights. We hope Magenta’s efforts will improve significantly on those editorial endeavors.
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