The cover of a magazine is essential to its brand identity; the cover is usually the most recognizable visual aspect of a magazine, and therefore it should create a sense of consistency from cover to cover, while still being dynamic and current. Time magazine really capitalizes on this concept, with its signature red border and clean covers, which often feature profiles of important people, or some other type of interesting imagery.
It is hard to tell what kind of grid Time magazine uses- the most consistently placed element is the masthead, which remains in the top center of the magazine (although it can sometimes be sized differently). There usually isn’t a lot of overwhelming text on the covers of Time magazine, but rather one or two important issues are highlighted, with a great focus being on a strong cover image. As can be seen in the Jan 26 and Feb 9 covers, there is sometimes only one story promoted. This allows the covers to be simple and easy to look at, while also emphasizing one crucial issue.
Hierarchy is created through color and text size. On the Feb 9 cover, the story promo is way larger than the byline underneath it, and is placed at the center of the cover to ensure that it is in the spotlight. The red text that reads “Tales from the sharing economy” automatically draws the viewers eyes, and then allows the eyes to wander elsewhere and read what is written above it. This cover works well due to the interesting and minimalistic way the text and imagery are placed, as well as the hierarchy created. In the February 16 cover, the word “Starbucks” is in green, as are the “x” marks in the middle of the page, ensuring that this is the most important element of the story/page. This makes it easy for the reader to realize what the top story is, and creates a nice connection between the story promo and the visual.
Visuals really set the tone for a particular issue/story in the magazine. The January 26 cover is dark and solemn with burning matches making up a bit more than half the page, as it contains a story about the Paris attacks. The flame that brushes up against the masthead is emotional and gripping, and the story promo is in red and white, creating contrast against the black background and continuing this theme of tragedy. Perhaps a stronger emotional image could have been used that has more Paris symbolism, but it is a decent cover overall.
Time magazine usually has impacting and clean covers, and that is part of their established brand identity. It helps solidify their reputation as a legitimate and serious news magazine, and also creates reader interest.