Superficial | Cross-Media Magazine

Exploring the effects of digital communication in our lives through a print publication, a micro-video series and a landing page

I. Context

The client

RETROSUPERFUTURE® (RSF) is an independent Italian brand, producing high-quality designer sunglasses, spontaneously endorsed by top celebrities like Kanye West, Beyoncé and Daft Punk among others.

The brief

Instead of promoting the product itself, RSF wanted to build a consistent brand image by taking a stand, providing real value and attracting endorsers.

The challenge

RETROSUPERFUTURE® is a name too long and difficult to remember, while the abbreviation RSF is somewhat cryptical. Therefore Super sunglasses is often used as a substitute. So, we were asked to come up with a solution in terms of naming in order to avoid further confusion.

Brief understanding

  • Brand DNA — self-ironic, avant-pop, smart, cool, eclectic, party starter, provocative, innovative.
  • Target group — millennial trend-setters on a local or global level, living in metropolitan cities.
  • Benchmark — Wired Italia and Makeshift in terms of brand consistency, design innovation, content originality and relevance.

II. Our solution

So we designed a cross-media magazine as a storytelling instrument to power the RETROSUPERFUTURE® brand. We called it Superficial.

Superficial ≠ Stupid.

The magazine explores the ways in which digital communication makes us superficial. Memes, tweets, fake news, the FoMO syndrome… They all prove that we’re drifting on the surface more than ever.

Admitting being superficial, sets the magazine apart as self-ironic, witty and honest.

Last but not least, the word “superficial” resonates with the name of the brand, thus solving the naming problem we were posed with.

📕 The Print Publication

Mono-thematic issues

  • Virtual Venus — post-digital romantic relationships
  • Superficial heroes — famous and notorious personas on the internet
  • Digital Folklore — myths, traditions and rituals of digital culture
  • Cyber Shades — illegal/obsolete/marginal/private corners of the web
  • Payoff —Following the tl;dr principle, we decided the payoff should be composed of emojis instead of words. The two emojis wearing glasses were also a witty hint at RSF.
  • Tone of voice — self-ironic, smart, witty, concise

Digital-esque layout

Page structure is inspired by social media news feeds, so it unfolds vertically, instead of horizontally.

Which means that if you strap the magazine’s pages and put them one after the other vertically you can re-create the news feed.

Bite-sized content

Content is expands onto more pages, thus setting less words per page, and making articles easily scannable.

Sidebar vs. Index page

The traditional index page is substituted with a sidebar, used to provide excerpts from articles within the issue. In the beginning of each article metadata is displayed within the sidebar.

🎞 The Micro-Video Series

Super slang

  • Concept — Presenting digital slang words through micro-videos
  • Format A series of six-second micro-videos in loop on Instagram
  • Captions — Explain the word presented in each video in a dictionary style
The micro-videos are extremely relevant to the target group because trend-setters are always the first to spot and adopt new hypes.
Superficial claims to be trend-setter itself by creating and spreading new buzz words.

More super slang

  • Masturdating — Going out alone to a movie or a restaurant
  • Selfiesh — Diving importance only to one’s image on social media
  • Eglaf — A words with no meaning; can be used instead of any other word
  • Textpectation — The anticipation felt when waiting for a text

🖥 The Landing Page

The medium is the message

The landing page, designed in Wordpress, acts as a meeting point between the various communications channels. It is focused on advertisers and subscribers and features testimonials from notable endorsers.


💪The Super Team Behind Superficial

Daniel, Michele and me after a presentation with RETROSUPERFUTURE®

Superficial was developed as a thesis project at IED, Torino in 2016 by Daniel Carpenito, Michele Massa and myself, Tereza Nikolova.

My role within the team

  • Creative — research & concept development, editorial design, landing page design & development
  • Editorial — curating content for print publication and vine channel
  • Organisational — prioritising, distributing tasks, managing workflow
  • Linguistic — translating content from Italian to English

Thanks for reading!

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