Ever notice magazine covers all look EXACTLY the same?

I only personally subscribe to one magazine (SPIN), but if I’m hungry for something new to read, I will scan the magazine aisle in the grocery store.  Here’s what I saw in one section – 11 (!) magazine covers that all look exactly the same:

Now, to the average reader of any of these, I’m sure they would say “no way, they look totally different!”  After all, the content of each is (slightly) different and the audiences are different, too.  But imagine if you had never seen a magazine before and wanted to buy your first one.  Which would you choose?  Why?

Just looking at these 11 magazine covers (I’m ignoring the Glamour bonus issue in the corner because it’s not really a magazine), they all possess the same qualities:
– female celebrity cropped at either waist or knees
– magazine name at top
– article titles around celebrity in 4 different fonts, some in different colors
– all contain buzz words “fashion/look/style” and “sex/sexy”
– all contain some sort of “secret” list (188 style secrets, 150 best fall looks, etc)

Haven’t these magazines ever heard of the Purple Cow?  Seth Godin’s book says “Transform your business by being remarkable.”  There’s nothing remarkable about these magazines – they’re the same as the others, and they’re the same every month.  (Doesn’t it seem like Cosmopolitan always has 77 new ways to “blow his mind”?)  Typically, if you’re going to buy one it’s because you’ve read it before and/or the celebrity on the cover compelled you to buy it.  The articles certainly aren’t much different, and the style/look of the cover certainly isn’t, either.

Imagine you’ve never read any magazine before.  You’re an alien from outer space, or you’re Amish, or something… and this is your first time in a supermarket.  What is going to make you choose one and not the other?  Dare to be different, designers.  Fortune favors the bold.

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