How To Create a Custom Magazine Cover That Rocks

The main job of a magazine cover is to get you to look inside it. It should intrigue and pique your interest enough to make you turn the page.

AAL spoke with a team of designers who have almost 75 years of combined design experience behind them, and these are the tips they gave which you can apply to your next magazine. Except for the very odd exception, the same principles apply no matter what industry you’re in.

Image Credit Redwood

Image Credit Redwood

Cover Lines

These need to be short and snappy and provide a glimpse of the journey you’re about to take readers on inside. Don’t sell anything on the cover. Let the contents inside do the selling intelligently by informing the reader about products and offers. Give them a chance to get to know you first. It starts with the cover. Do you want to be seen as a used car salesman or a trusted source of information?

Catch Their Attention

There should always be something on the cover that makes people stop and stare – even for a moment. Numbers and breakout shapes, like circles or boxes are very effective. Competitions and giveaways are also useful and communicate that you are trying to add value to their experience with you. A good thing when you’re trying to build loyalty!


This is the name of your magazine. Your choice of name should reflect your brand and what you’re trying to achieve with the magazine. The masthead on newsstand magazines are placed at the top of the page because otherwise nobody would be able to find what they’re looking for amongst all the other magazines on the newstand, and this would affect sales. But since your customer magazine is probably being pulled out of a mailbox, you’ve got the entire cover to use as a canvas. Be creative!

 Don’t Overbrand

The cover shouldn’t be a collage of all your brand guidelines. You’ll only be making it easier for readers to decide NOT to read your magazine, since it probably looks like something they might read later, or worse, throw away. Keep it subtle. Consumers are smart, they’ll figure out it’s you.

 Cover Image

Readers remember images not headlines. How many headlines do you remember from a magazine you read last week? Probably very few. Having something shot or illustrated is best because it will be completely unique to your brand, but it can be expensive. Given the choice though, this would be where you’d spend the extra money. You’re looking for good eye contact and a cover model that reflects your brand ethos or is someone that your customers would aspire to be.

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