Voice Brand Agency dips its toes into the murky waters of publishing

As Voice Brand Agency recently learned, publishing a magazine is hard graft, even with the resources of a creative agency behind it. Creative director Jonathan Sagar explains why whacking stuff on Facebook won't cut it anymore and why chasing perfection is futile.

As Voice Brand Agency recently learned, publishing a magazine is hard graft, even with the resources of a creative agency behind it.

The Auckland-headquartered agency has just debuted its own digital magazine VQuarterly, an inhouse project that's been in the works for a few months. Bringing together design, brand, culture and generally clever creative ideas, creative director Jonathan Sagar says the idea "fell out" of discussions around social media strategy, both for clients and for the agency itself.

"Whacking stuff on Facebook isn't really where it's at anymore," he says.

"Our experience internationally has given us so much opinion. We've done this for a long, long time and wanted to express some of that in an avenue where it might be picked up and used by others ... as a way for us to position ourselves better as thought leaders in the market."vquarterly debut edition ipad app voice brand agency

It's not just about brands and marketing, but art, design, and other related fields – "things that we loved and things that we had a thought on".

He points to a story about Vanmoof bikes from the Netherlands ("I'm a cyclist from way back, I just bought one and think they're really cool") and another on brands in China as highlights.

"We have an office in Beijing and we have a very strong take on the Chinese market. A lot of people have perceptions on China and brands and why they consume ... but not many truly understand it."

Turns out putting a magazine together is hard graft, even within a digital agency.

"Trying to do cross platform apps is not that easy," Sagar admits. The magazine is available as an iPad app and was created straight from InDesign through Adobe Creative Cloud, which he says was the most straightforward way to do it.

"I just had to let go and say 'just publish the damn thing'. You'd just faff around with it forever otherwise."

What can we look forward to in the next edition?

"This one has four articles, which was a stretch. We're planning on six or seven for the next one," he says, including one about boutique tequila making in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Rather than telling clients about what they've been working on, Sagar says it's about getting their opinions out into the wider world. They've drawn up a list of influencers around the world, reached out to them, and encouraged them to republish material or pass it on.

"Google Plus has been a huge platform for it really," he muses. Where Facebook is for talking to friends, he says Google Plus is much more outward-looking and attracts more interesting people.

The biggest market for the magazine is offshore, he reckons, with feedback coming in from as far as Hong Kong and Europe.

While there are local tinges to the magazine (a feature on art in Oamaru, for example) Sagar says it's not tied to any one country and they're keen to keep it "outward facing".

"We come from a wide community ourselves at Voice," he says by way of explanation.