Brands have long found it valuable to publish their own magazines. Mack Trucks, for instance, has published its Bulldog magazine since 1920. I features the kinds of things fans of Mack Trucks might like — photo shoots of vintage Macks, features on unusual heroics by Mack trucks, stories that might be helpful to participants in the trucking culture.
But a problem with magazines — print or online — is that good ones are expensive to create. Produce a magazine on a tight budget, and you end up with something that looks and reads like a neighborhood association newsletter.
That’s why this new rev from Flipboard is interesting. Until now, Flipboard had been a very slick way to pull stories and photos and social media posts from the web and automatically have them assembled into something that looks like your own personalized magazine for a tablet or phone. The new version allows anyone to not only assemble a digital magazine — but publish it.
This may seem, at first, to appeal to the Pinterest crowd — a way for an individual to curate stuff he or she likes and broadcast it to the world.
But it seems to me that brands could look at this as a way to create a hot-looking magazine on a shoestring. Sure, the brand would probably want some of its own writing and photography. Easy enough — set up a blog that Flipboard could pull from. But then, use Flipboard to mix home-grown content with relevant content from around the web — from blogs, traditional media, YouTube and so on.
Instead of having to spend money to fill a whole magazine, a brand could focus the budget on creating a few great pieces of home-grown content, and fill out the rest with web-based content. If curated well, the result on Flipboard could look like some of the nicest branded magazines anywhere.