This is the first installment of our two-part blog series on the redesign of FORUM magazine. In this post, Association Forum President Michelle Mason shares her vision for the organization and how FORUM’s redesign reflects AF’s evolution. Look out for the next post in the series on the magazine’s design with GLC Art Director Nariman Tahir.
Michelle Mason took the helm of Association Forum on September 15, 2014, and along with the board of directors, her objective was to adapt the (at that time) 98-year-old organization to the challenges of the 21st century and the expectations of members whose professional lives needed to evolve with the pace of digital evolution.
“My vision is for Association Forum to be a learning lab where we take risks, innovate and create an environment and community where members can cocreate and grow,” Mason says.
To set the course for this evolution, Mason introduced a new set of core values for Association Forum in November of 2014. The first two, being a welcoming environment and embracing innovation, would prove particularly influential as Mason plotted out how the organization could become the center of experimentation and inclusion she envisioned.
Association Forum wasn’t the only organization contemplating how to tackle the defining enterprise challenges of the century: digitization, multigenerational workforces and increasing expectations of corporate social responsibility. Its members saw the same challenges in their own associations and businesses, and they would be looking to Association Forum for guidance.
“We knew there were a lot of changes occurring in the association community, and we wanted to be a place where members can feel comfortable being uncomfortable and prepare themselves to grow and prosper in an uncertain future,” Mason says.
FORUM magazine is an extension of the association and its members, telling their stories, answering their questions and marketing the organization to the outside world. As Association Forum was stepping boldly into the future, the magazine followed suit.
“FORUM is an award-winning magazine and an essential tool for our members,” Mason says. “We’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so keeping the printed magazine is key, but we’re also focusing on the digital aspect and how we can make it accessible to the next generation.”
The two words Mason uses to describe her vision for FORUM are “modern” and “relevant.” To achieve this, the magazine needed a new visual identity, but each issue would also have to take a fresh look at the news, challenges and triumphs du jour in the association community and commit to keeping a pulse on what matters to members. And it would have to be accessible to a diverse audience. Association Forum partnered with marketing communications agency GLC to redesign the publication and conceive a new content platform to serve these unique interests.
Upon opening the first issue of the redesigned FORUM, readers will be able to see the first indicator of the magazine’s commitment to these goals in its recurring core values section. Previously printed only in English, the core values will be translated into six different languages, including Spanish, Italian, Polish, simplified Chinese, Arabic and Portuguese, each issue. The aptly named Pulse section will keep readers informed of timely news, trends, research and happenings in the association community. The familiar insights, best practices and in-depth discussions of association-specific topics will still take center stage. And each issue will conclude with a constellation of members’ diverse perspectives and final thoughts.
Like Association Forum, FORUM magazine’s evolution is not a journey with an endpoint. It will continue to reflect the mission of the association — to provide members with the learning, experiences and resources they need to excel in association management — adapting and anticipating reader expectations in an uncertain future.