Relaunching a well-loved charity magazine for Versus Arthritis

The revamp of Inspire magazine reflects a strategic repositioning of the charity’s offer, with the aim of increasing membership and regular donations.

To paraphrase the Ancient Greek proverb: ‘You never step twice into the same river – because the river has changed and you’ve changed, too.’

Why do we mention that here? 

Well, when CPL One relaunched Inspire magazine for Versus Arthritis (VA) in 2023, it gained a bold, contemporary look. But behind the new design was a strategic repositioning of the charity’s offer, built on a new membership drive. The charity needed to adapt its offer to a changing world and an audience with evolving needs and expectations. The proposition for the magazine changed accordingly, staying in line with the charity’s refreshed objectives. Put simply: things never stay the same.

Membership goals

A strategic shift for VA in 2023 has seen the charity implement a membership proposition – with the goal of increasing revenue and building an engaged community of supporters. To do so, it needed to position Inspire as a key member benefit.

Doing this necessitated a complete reimagining of the product, increasing its size and quality. 

For the CPL One team, led by senior editor Tracey Lattimore, the challenge for the relaunch was to update a well-loved product for readers. This involved bringing fresh editorial thinking and vibrant design ideas to deliver a makeover with purpose – and potential to become a commercial proposition and tool for member acquisition.

A bold and modern new look

Creatively, the brief was open – CPL One was asked not to be influenced by VA’s brand guidelines, ensuring we could bring a totally fresh look to the magazine.

To do this, our design team reimagined the look and feel of Inspire from front to back. We referenced consumer trends in illustration style, typeface design and colour palettes to ensure Inspire would be seen as ‘something worth paying for’. 

The redesign brought a bolder, contemporary approach and a colourful, more graphic feel with imagery that delivered real impact and a playful use of typography and design.

Editorially, the new Inspire has also evolved. In response to reader surveys, more health-related features have been added within the mix of news, practical, lifestyle and real-life interview features.

CPL One has also adapted when it comes to format, taking a test-and-learn approach to whether the magazine should be saddle stitched or perfect bound. 

Although the latter was appropriate for the increased pagination and to increase the perceived value of the magazine, readers suggested that, in many instances, perfect binding caused practical handling issues for people with arthritis.

Delivering on our promise

For VA, the new magazine has delivered against early objectives. For example, in the first eight weeks after the soft launch of the paid membership scheme, 450 people signed up, well ahead of the target of 300.

The average amount paid by members is already £3.50/month, ahead of the recommended £3 a month target. On top of that, the cost per acquisition so far has been very low, with VA carrying out only limited paid-for advertising via Facebook.

Jack York, innovation manager for Versus Arthritis, said: “The launch has been ahead of all of our projections and the feedback from our community has been amazing. The magazine provides an invaluable source of information and support for people living with arthritis.”

CPL One managing director Mike Sewell added: “Versus Arthritis is a longstanding client for CPL One. We first created Inspire for the charity 10 years ago when it was known as Arthritis Care. Following the merger with Arthritis Research UK to create Versus Arthritis, the magazine was revamped to reflect the new brand and, in 2023, we’ve worked with the charity to reimagine Inspire once more. We know that over time clients’ needs change and so do the expectations of their audiences. Our job is to evolve with them, and with Versus Arthritis we’re proud to have done just that.”

Sign up and join Versus Arthritis’ Inspire community here.