National Geographic uses a custom serif font, NatGeo SemiBold for its magazine cover. The one-centimeter yellow border that lines all of National Geographic’s covers makes the magazine instantly recognizable in newsstands, and creates a strong brand image. Even the earliest issues of the magazine feature the yellow border.
Image from Wikipedia
I looked at the four most recent National Geographic covers. The cover photo showcases the issue’s main feature story along with a title ad short explainer. In the February 2016 issue, no other stories are listed on the cover. In the top left corner in very small text it advertises “Eyes Wide Open Sunday, February 14, on the National Geographic Channel.”
Other recent covers features an average of 2-3 additional stories listed on the cover. These are typically listed at the top in small text so they don’t distract from the main story image and text. The “National Geographic” title also changes color and opacity to blend into the photo or background.
In my opinion the cover images I looked at didn’t quite stand up to the photography within the magazine. I found the covers boring in comparison to the striking images within the stories themselves.
Furthermore, by only showcasing the main feature story on the cover, the reader doesn’t necessarily realize there is a lot more content in the magazine. For example, when I purchased the “Under London” issue of National Geographic I immediately thought I wouldn’t be interested in the issue. When I actually read the magazine I discovered there were several interesting stories and photo series that I really enjoyed even though the cover initially put me off.
All cover images are from the National Geographic Press Room.