This morning we’ve left our desk in London for Seoul, South Korea where we’re at work with the editor of B Magazine, Taehyuk Choi. The title, published by agency JOH & Company, introduces readers to different brands around the globe, taking a new company for each issue that it’ll meticulously cover (B has looked at everyone from Haagen-Dazs and Guinness to Audi, Pantone, Vitra and Star Wars). The new issue 48 investigates the brand story behind AirBnB. We catch up with Taehyuk to hear more about how B selects the brands that it features.
Where are you today?
I’m in our office in Seoul.
What can you see from the window?
Green leaves waving in the breeze. The heat wave in Seoul is slowly fading now. As the city has been the highest temperature its been in decades, this breeze is welcomed by many.
Are you a morning or evening person?
I’m more of a morning person. I do most of the top priority tasks in the morning. I like when I arrive at work a bit earlier than the other staff members. I used this time to check emails, listen to classical music and have a cup of coffee.
Which magazine do you first remember?
Most editor-in-chiefs are magazine buffs, but I wasn’t one in the past. I preferred movies and books. Honestly, no magazines come to mind right now!
What’s your favourite magazine this morning?
Victory, the sports journal. It’s one of the most impressive magazines that I’ve seen in the rack recently. The publishing industry is skeptical about paper publications these days, but you see a lot of examples with fresh ideas, and Victory seems to be one that’s especially beautiful. It’s such a fresh alternative to other titles, and it manages to be so with such efficiency. After reading it, I felt like I’d met the staff in person.
What’s your favourite brand this morning?
Patagonia – it started in Ventura, California and I’m wearing one of its products right now. I always remember this one first when I’m asked to list one of the unforgettable brands (out of 50) that the magazine has covered. When I visited its office I felt this enormous energy that was difficult to capture with photos and articles. Since the visit, I became a fan of the brand myself, and I’m always recommending it to friends and acquaintances now.
How do you choose what brands you’re going to showcase for the entirety of an issue?
B has a four pillar policy when selecting brands, it must meet our criteria of beauty, price, practicality and philosophy. Our staff has in-depth discussions throughout the decision making process. We research, we communicate with a range of people who are knowledgable about the candidate brand, there’s numerous stages.
Do you actually talk to the companies that you’re exploring?
We start by communicating with relevant people from the brand. One of the strengths of B is that we reveal the value of a featured brand from a consumer’s perspective. But I do admit, we do this through a lot of interviews with and support from the management of the brands, in order to ensure that we’re providing the right information.
Yet if a brand said they didn’t want to be covered or participate in interviews, with our system and know-how now in place, we’d continue with our work anyway.
Have any brands ever gotten upset with an issue?
Like I just mentioned, some brands refused to do interviews. This is probably because they’re concerned that they can’t control the message, given that the magazine only features one brand from cover-to-cover. If this is the case, we have two choices – either we stop or we continue without responses or the brand’s support.
Do you ever get companies asking you to make a magazine about them?
I often receive messages from countless numbers of brands, but if they don’t meet our criteria, we don’t hesitate to turn them down.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
I’m checking out an app to see how big the waves at the beach three hours away from Seoul are,. Theres little wind throughout the summer season in Korea so you can’t find good waves during this vacation period. As the summer’s now reaching its end, the wave is getting bigger, so I’m looking forward to that this weekend.
What are you least looking forward to this week?
I’m not looking forward to the time flying by. Because our next deadline is approaching next week…
What will you be doing after this chat?
The topic of the next issue is the city of Seoul. It’s where the magazine is based, so I feel that I need to pour a lot of energy and attention into it. I need to get myself updated from the other staff members. But let me go get my coffee first!