When Brigitte Huber this year set about revamping one of Germany’s leading women’s magazines, she felt the weight of almost 70 years of history on her shoulders. “Since 1954 Brigitte has been championing women’s interests, strengthening their role in society, and has established itself as an important brand that stands alongside them,” the editor-in-chief says. “The magazine has accompanied the female zeitgeist and has sparked public debate.”
Born in Trostberg in 1964, Brigitte Huber first studied Modern German Literature, English and Communication Studies before joining the German School of Journalism (DJS) in Munich in 1986. She began her professional career as a trained journalist at the München Abendzeitung and Freundin. Huber joined Brigitte in February 2003, initially as deputy editor-in-chief. In May 2009, she took over as part of a dual management team, as editor-in-chief. In April 2013 Huber was appointed sole editor-in-chief and has since been solely responsible for all contents of the Brigitte family. She has also been editor-in-chief of the magazines Barbara, Guido and Eltern and publisher of Brigitte Digital.
Judging by the response from readers, the team at Brigitte, which is published every two weeks, has nailed the relaunch. According to a survey carried out by publisher Gruner + Jahr, 86% of respondents love the warm tones and fonts of the new design (both print and digital) as well as the magazine’s willingness to tackle weightier topics, like the war in Ukraine.
“The magazine’s DNA is defined by the variety of topics it addresses, from service and psychology to socially and politically relevant pieces,” says Huber. “This unique blend has made Brigitte Germany’s largest cross-media women’s brand and helped it achieve high brand recognition of over 90%.
“We have readership of around two million women – all of them ambitious, educated professionals, ready for change and eager to try new things. They all want relevance, with uncompromising opinions on current affairs. While Brigitte initially dealt with questions like: ‘How can I help my husband enjoy a relaxing evening after work?’, it now looks at issues like ‘How do I balance my career, partner, children and personal interests?’”
The power of print
Crucial to the success of Brigitte has been the ability of the magazine to give its readers a luxurious print experience – something that’s been done in the most sustainable way.
“The tactile experience and feel of the publication play an important role for any print magazine,” says Huber. “Since we are also striving to ensure that we respect our environment in all we do, we choose the most sustainable paper possible that still allows us to present our images, illustrations and colours to best advantage.
“Our graphics and design teams are every bit as important as our writing editors – we can only produce a first-class print product if the visuals and the content match.”
Huber believes that despite mounting pressures like increasing paper prices and energy costs, print publications will continue to be popular.
“Print will remain an important part of the media world for the foreseeable future,” she says. “People love magazines; they love leafing through the pages and the generosity of the visuals, all of which build up more closeness and privacy than other media.”
A long rich history
While the first Brigitte appeared on shelves in 1954, its history actually stretches back to the 19th century. The magazine was first published in 1886 under the name Das Blatt der Hausfrau (German: Housewife’s Journal) catering to the middle-class bourgeois housewife. Publication was halted during WWII before being relaunched in 1949 and renamed five years later.
Huber joined Brigitte in 2003 as deputy editor-in-chief, before taking over as part of a dual editor-in-chief management team in 2009. No sooner did she take charge, than the publication was making headlines around the world thanks to a bold editorial strategy.
In 2010, Brigitte launched a ‘no-model’ initiative, using regular people in photo shoots to restore a “naturalness to beauty” in what was an approach that has since increasingly been adopted across the pages of other lifestyle magazines and on billboards. Taking its lead from its readers, Brigitte changed the policy in 2012.
Print will remain an important part of the media world for the foreseeable future. People love magazines; they love leafing through the pages and the generosity of the visuals, all of which build up more closeness and privacy than other media.
“(The no models initiative) was a move that brought us global attention and recognition,” says Huber who became sole editor-in-chief in 2013. “Nevertheless, there were still those among our readers who felt distracted by the fashion elements or pressured by the women we depicted, because real women with apparently perfect lives who still look great on top of everything else put our readers under even more pressure than anonymous models.
“That’s why we reintroduced professional models to the magazine in 2012 and since then, we have been presenting a mix of photo productions featuring professional models and strong women. Even though we later reversed the decision, I do not think our no-model policy was a mistake. At that time, we took a stand. Brigitte is still connected with that decision today, and that has a positive effect on the journalistic profile of the brand.”