Condé Nast waited too long, and is now struggling when it comes to digital, as The New York Observer profiled.
So what went wrong? They actually had quite a few strengths they could have played to. First, they seem to have always prided themselves in minting young talent, such as young designers in the pages of Vogue. If the culture there truly supported that, they could have brought in a young crop of “digital natives” to find new ways to build the Conde Nast brand in digital.
Condé was built on “exclusivity”:
Where Condé Nast had been built on the notion of exclusivity—the idea that its gatekeepers held the keys to a sort of private club, doling out access to readers one glamorous photo spread or finely-turned phrase at a time—the Internet was messy, democratic and fundamentally untamable.
To me, exclusivity today would mean clean design, ad-free and well-written, quality content – much like The Atlantic has done. That’s something that many would pay for.
The kiss of death? Not playing to either of those strengths and sticking digital under print people.
Existing art and production staffers from the print side would be responsible for making two iPad layouts (one in portrait and one in landscape, per Mr. Dadich’s vision) on Adobe’s platform. The idea was that since Condé Nast used Adobe’s InDesign and InCopy software to create its magazines, sticking with Adobe would make repurposing content easier.
So instead of making a well-designed experience, they went the “cheap” route and just repurposed content the easy way, even going so far as to bring in “workflow specialists.”
That surely doesn’t scream upscale and exclusive to me, and it absolutely doesn’t speak to a culture of cultivating young talent.