Garden & Gun magazine cover

3 Things Great Magazines Do & 10 That We Love

The staff at Parthenon recently got together over lunch to talk about magazines that we love, and why. We ended up discussing 10 very different magazines.

While the magazines we chose had very different audiences, design and editorial purposes, there were elements they all had in common.

3 things great magazines do

  1. Inform: They provide information about a particular subject in an engaging way.
  2. Affirm: They provide a reassuring and welcoming message about one’s profession, interest or lifestyle.
    They assure readers they are not alone, that they are part of a community of something larger.
    They help fulfill a basic human need to feel good about yourself and your place in society.
  3. Inspire: They take readers to places they didn’t know they wanted to go.
    They provide thought-provoking ideas, concepts and stories that are aspirational and inspirational.

Our 10 favorite magazines

Garden & Gun magazine
We think Garden & Gun is the best magazine launched in the past decade.
  1. Esquire
    Great writing, a consistent point of view and one of the best editor’s letters around
  2. Fast Company
    Innovation that inspires about all the things we value in business
  3. Men’s Health
    The biggest men’s magazine brand, with 40 editions worldwide
  4. Garden & Gun
    In our eyes, the best magazine launched in the last decade. Polished yet personal and essentially Southern
  5. The Economist
    Serious thinking, well articulated
  6. Vogue
    The best for fashion and style. And, we love the ads
  7. Wired
    Founded in 1993 as “the Rolling Stone of technology,” it still delivers on forward thinking about technology and culture
  8. National Geographic
    Great use of print and online media. Both bring its pages to life in different ways
  9. Archaeology
    Brings the dead back to life… In a good way
  10. Conde Nast Traveler
    Aspirational but attainable travel ideas. And always trustworthy

During our discussion, we identified something else almost all good magazines have in common: a strong editor with a laser focus on the reader. When you have a good leader, you are likely to succeed, no matter what your genre or distribution channel.