GQ Snapchat Discover
Starting in January 2017 I worked closely with Shakeil Greeley and Andre Jointe to develop a completely new, mobile-first visual language for GQ’s Snapchat Discover. Getting GQ’s Discover channel up and running meant developing an editorial strategy, focusing on accessibility and legibility, crafting a new version of the brand through movement and motion design, and considering sound design and how that fit into the brand language.
Snapchat Discover is the editorial arm of the core Snapchat app, where publishers and influencers can connect directly with a wide-range of audiences. For GQ, Snapchat Discover became a place to reach a completely new audience and a venue for the team to explore and experiment both in design and storytelling.
For GQ, Snapchat Discover sits firmly between print and web, meaning that the team is able to take inspiration from GQ’s award-winning design language and add app-specific elements such as variable typography and video all under a narrative story arc.
Step one in developing a visual brand for Snapchat Discover was taking a close look at print design practices and distilling down years of work into core elements. Since GQ, under then-direction of Fred Woodward, was unique in that each print issue had its own world and visual language we decided that our core elements would lean on typography but not color palette. Our brand-constant from edition to edition was the typographic use of A2, Titling, and Signpainter and each edition had its own palette sourced from the other visual assets we were using including photography, video, and illustration.
Working within a mobile-only design framework, we built out highly specific guidelines, using a grid, around type usage to ensure maximum impact and maximum legibility. Operating within this small but consistent canvas allowed us to continuously iterate and improve upon our use of the limited time (10 seconds per design) and space available. Over the course of the project, our team came to maximize every millisecond at our disposal, with every corner of the canvas activated in some way.
To coincide with GQ’s most recent redesign under Creative Director Rob Vargas, we adopted GT America as our core typeface in July 2017. Taking note from the new design ideology in print we also updated our design practice. We shed our edition-based color palettes instead opting for a palette of black and white, with tonal accents, to allow photography and video to stand out. Our goal was to always maintain nimble enough brand guidelines that we can experiment and grow as the rest of the brand evolves.
At launch in April 2017 we started publishing one edition per week with a small team where everyone had multiple jobs in a truly collaborative environment. Our team quickly grew as we moved to publishing two editions per week in July 2017. In addition to design and motion production on all editions, we were also in charge of editorial planning per edition and looking forward. We covered everything from fitness, to mental health, to celebrity style, to music, all in new and exciting ways using video, motion graphics, and tight, efficient editing. Every edition had to be sequenced in a way that told a coherent and consistent story from start to finish all the while convincing the user to stick with the edition to the end.
Motion graphics are an integral component of Snapchat Discover, and our team created extensive motion guidelines to ensure brand consistency edition-to-edition. Our animation was always bold and authoritative, consistently slick and cool, and never soft or unsure of itself.
We also worked closely with musicians to develop a unique sound for GQ, a first in the brand’s history. Every song you hear on this page is an original track made for GQ.
Although we based our editorial output on the magazine and the website, we also created a number of original video and photoshoots that were conceived as Snapchat first.
By the end of the Snapchat Discover project, we had created 153 editions, accumulated over 164 million minutes spent on our content, and almost a billion unique topsnaps viewed, all generated from a demographic that was simply not interacting with other parts of the brand in significant numbers before we launched. While building and cultivating this new audience, we also established lasting design standards across all social and video platforms that continue to remain in use.