Capital Business Magazine

Design process & Case Study

Capital business magazine was a start-up project that came into fruition in 2018.
Brought together with the aim to acknowledge and celebrate Dorset's status as  the capital of many things - finance, arts, culture, aerospace, digital technology to name just a few. 
The title came from the fact that every business needs capital. 
When you think of business, you think of clean cut, seamless and sleek. The design of this magazine being no exception.

Myself and colleague Jessica Kwan were tasked to design the magazine from cover to cover. This involved not only establishing the objective of the client, researching what sort of features they would be running, but working closely with the Editor and external Publishers to ensure we captured the vision of a platform to show off what Dorset has to offer business wise.


Capital Business Magazine                                                    



Liz Heaven & Jessica Kwan     
For Newsquest Media                                              



Emma Stowell-Corten for Newsquest Media Publishing   



Newsquest Media Publishing   



Adobe Indesign 




Capital Business

Our first objective was research - what message did Capital want to portray to their readers? What overall customer did they want to attract? And most importantly, what did they want the customer to take away from reading an issue of Capital?

It became apparent that the answer was not only for those in the business industry of Dorset to stay in the loop, but to make everyone aware of what it has to offer, possibly encouraging new start-ups to take the plunge, and existing businesses to show Dorset what they are made of.

As well as reporting on a diverse selection of topics, Capital aims to target it's audience with gripping content, striking images and clean layouts for an effortless yet insightful read.


The Style Guide

The look and feel of a magazine such as Capital is just as vital as  the content within, and so brainstorming over a style guide was our first port of call when it came to designing.

First, the typography. Deciding on typography for various heading, body content, subheadings, standfirsts, coverlines and pull quotes is a lot of space to cover, and all needed to remain consistent to carry the Capital brand through each page.

Then there are paragraph styles - how will the text look and behave while on the page? What size will it be?

It was decided a signature masthead of both serif and sans serif would be the focal point of the cover for the title, and smaller subheadings and standfirsts would carry the same fonts - not over complicating as sometimes in order to achieve a put together look, less is indeed more.
The body copy itself would be a a Roman-PS 9pt serif font, with a larger drop cap to start each feature. We wanted the text to flow easily to double page spreads and be readable, but still look classy and uniform.


A cool colour palette of business-suit greys and darker blues flirted with luxury purple and lighter tones of grey and blue for accentuation. The pop of colour that ties them all together and used on the cover would be a gold hue for that added sophistication.

Rules were put in place of where each colour could be used - allowing for some freedom to adapt to the lead picture, as this magazine would be very image led, the diversity of the colour palette allows for complimentary and matching colour ways and schemes.
Word counts were also a factor in the design process.


Pull quotes would feature to stand out of the page with a large quotation mark, and would always be engaging leaving the reader wanting more.


Templates & Layout

Next we needed to determine what features would run in each issue - are there any regular columns, reporters or articles they aim to share.

It was decided that these pages would have their own templates and layouts and retain the same structure for every issue. 
See right : Layout and template for regular news features "the big issue" -  a collaborative newsreel of different points of interest, a business diary page.

As for the overall structure, we went with three columns per page on these feature pages, with a larger lead image on both, accompanied by smaller images to aid stories when needed.
The line features wrap around each allowing for separation and decoration at the same time.

Picture orientation and shape was something that was deeply discussed and thought out - it would have been fine to go with just traditional rectangular shapes in both portrait and landscape, but we wanted to add some interest and bring a modern twist to the overall design. We decided on round, square or rectangular, and an edgy lozenge, allowing for movement of which image suits what best.

Page titles and rules were also agreed to be minimal and to sit at the top on either side, specifying which category the feature would come under.


Each design was made into a basic template in Adobe Indesign, which could be easily dragged into the application through the knowedge database, ready to use and edit with all style guide features applicable in place. 



Double page spreads

Always great for those show stopping pictures, double page spreads lend a lot to important feature articles. We decided to make the most of the space and allow for large, high quality images to be at centre stage, keeping to three columns across the spread.

This would allow some images to be put at full bleed to the top edge of the page if so desired, with the space to shift the subheading across.

Two smaller images would sit towards the bottom on the right hand page, allowing the vital heading and introductory piece, along with the pullquote to be on the left - balancing out the design.

All images would be credited at the bottom right hand corner, keeping the design sleek and allowing for a staggered effect on the smaller images, one overlapping the main slightly for a design twist.

If in the instance that only two images were provided, there would be an option to pull the third paragraph down and only include one smaller.



Half page features

For smaller features, the half page layout would hold two columns so as not to appear so word heavy, and allow for images to do compliment them. Very often, these smaller features would be accompanied by an advertisement from the same company below, so less text was sometimes more beneficial.
We still have the option to remove the diamond shape picture and run a few lines below if the text does happen to go over and cannot be cut back. However, it was recommended to keep to a certain word count, allowing for that interest of the overlapping images and for the pictures to speak for themselves.
If needs be, the standfirst can also be shortened to one line.


CAP_NOV_SPD_5 (1).png

Single page features

Single pages almost always allow the main image to be bled out to the edge , the lead image for these smaller page features make up for the lack of text by being striking, appealing and of the highest quality.
The picture on the left shows an example of how the colour palette can be used to compliment the lead image featured.

Below in an example of a regularly featured page, where two images are used to compliment the body text being short at only one column, with a list of award winners in the other column.


Capital 6.png

The design in action



The take away

Designing Capital Business was a real boundary pushing, step-out-of-your-comfort-zone experience. Having complete freedom to push further with design to bring a modern take on a traditional business theme was not only satisfying to see come together, but fascinating to research too. 

It really did make us realise that there is so much potential out there for businesses to flourish, and design is definitely something to be utilised to aid growth - be that through magazine, branding, or in this case as it were, both. 
Taking Capital Business and turning it into a brand, and creating a magazine from that brand was a true example of how previous disciplines learned can be carried over to new projects, but as always, there is plenty of knowledge and insight to gain with each experience.

As a result, Andy Martin, Editor of Capital Business was very pleased with all aspects of the magazine, which exceeded his expectations and that of his staff. So much so, Jess and I were asked to design Yorkshire Review, which comes under the same umbrella, a few months later in a similar style.
I'd call that a success! And judging by the looks of the smiles on those faces below, I'm sure they would agree!

Picture credit to Bournemouth Eco - read the article here.