Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Travel Guidebook Redesign Case Study, part 2

Original book cover design
In 2004, I was given the task to do a complete redesign of the famous Sanborn's Travelog guidebooks. In my previous article, I discussed the projects problem areas and my proposed solutions. I had originally intended this topic to be 2 articles long, but as I wrote the text below I realized that there was no way I could do that and keep this article from being overwhelmingly long. So I have chosen to write about the cover redesign process in this article, and I will write about the books’ structure and page layout in my next article.

The original 6 Sanborn's Travelog covers had the same unattractive color combination; Orange, yellow & brown. Each book also featured a map of Mexico on the front cover with the only difference being a pink highlighted area that would indicate which region of Mexico each particular book would target. At a quick glance, all 6 books looked exactly alike.

I will use the first guidebook, Mexico’s Northeastern Routes, as an example of how I tackled the book cover redesign.

My front cover redesign
I proposed to the Sanborn’s president and managers that we should use a photo of Monterrey, NL, on the cover, since it is Mexico’s 3rd largest city, and 2 of the 3 routes entering Mexico in this book pass through it. This image would feature a white border and drop shadow to give the look of an actual photograph. I did this to portray the feeling of collecting memories. After pouring over dozens of images, a nighttime scene was chosen. Since the region this book targets has modern, colonial and archeological tourist attractions, I choose an image of a woven zarape, for the background, to represent the multi-cultural and historical beauty travelers would come across. Where the previous cover design had a bold san serf font for the title, I chose to go with a thinner, more flowing type style. All images, logo and title were executed using Photoshop. All other elements were later added in using Illustrator, to secure clean, crisp line rendering.

Since Sanborn's publishes their own books, it was essential that their logo stand out in the front cover to maximize their branding efforts.

To help readability of the covers' spine, I used the zarape image on the top edge, but flooded the rest with a dark blue color (used in the front cover) to allow the text to stand out.
My back cover redesign

I moved the large map on the front of the original cover designs to the back cover and made it much smaller. The decision to keep the map was as much for the agents who sell the books as it was for the customers. With this simple map, everyone would be able to easily tell which route each specific book was intended for. The back cover would also don a small photo of a Veracruz folkloric dancer that would help affirm the region the book targets. The background was kept to a simple, smooth blue-to-white gradation with the zarape image appearing on the outer edge. The last graphic element added was the books bar code. Not pleased with placing a standard barcode on my cover design, I chose to convert it into the bottom portion of a zarape. This image would be used on all books and would include Sanborn’s stylized sombrero and the number of years the company had been in business, to be updated with every reprint. Last but not least, I included a text summary of the features and benefits the book offers, as a “personal guide”.

The second book I redesigned, Northwestern Routes, showcased the Chepe train that runs along the famous Copper Canyon (it is actually 4 times larger than the Grand Canyon in Arizona). Although the canyon is quite famous, I wanted to bring attention to an amazing landmark that many travelers had still not visited. My third cover design was for the Baja peninsula. This cover design sports an image of tourist reaching out to touch a grey whale. I had chosen this image to show traveling families that Baja is not only a Spring Break destination. Several west coast cities in Baja are well known for their whale watching tours.

Unfortunately I was only able to redesign 3 of the 6 books in the series because the company had me redesign their website halfway through the project. You can see my 3 cover redesigns and the remaining 3 untouched covers here.

No comments:

Post a Comment