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'Blueprint' marks new path for custom publication

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In September 2006, Compass Bank introduced Compass on Business, a custom publication stemming from a thought leadership program that Compass Bank started in 2002. The magazine was originally designed to keep the bank's customers abreast of trends in corporate banking, in addition to providing international, national and local business information. But after Compass Bank was acquired by BBVA of Spain in September 2007—and its name changed to BBVA Compass—the custom publication started to explore a new direction.

Fast forward to spring 2009. Compass on Business was relaunched as Blueprint. Circulation increased to 38,000, from 30,000, while the magazine got an entirely new design, new color scheme (various shades of blue) and new fonts. It also adopted the parent company's tagline, “Banking built for you.”

The magazine, produced by custom publisher King Fish Media, retained its quarterly frequency, but the editorial content was expanded significantly to include stories on retail banking and wealth management.

“It's not just about corporate banking, but all three lines of our business,” said Ed Bilek, senior VP-director of external communications for BBVA Compass, who added that the publication also has ramped up coverage of lending to small businesses.

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The fall issue features a cover story on cross-cultural communications, titled “Managing with a global mindset.” It also carries articles on raising capital amid the sluggish economy; how to develop a solid pricing strategy; and the short-term steps companies can take to strengthen their long-term position once the economy recovers.

“We've interviewed clients about how they've been able to succeed,” Bilek said. “[Blueprint] is not just about Compass, but helping our customers make decisions.”

Bilek said the name of the magazine was changed to Blueprint to communicate to both existing customers and prospects that the bank can act as an “engineer for new business and help companies create a path for growth.”

More than half the magazine's circulation goes to current business customers and the balance is used by bank representatives for lead prospecting. When BBVA of Spain acquired Guaranty Ban in September, California was added to the distribution list, joining Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas—the bank's main areas of business in the U.S.

BBVA Compass is devising a digital strategy for Blueprint and figuring out how to integrate the publication into the bank's other marketing channels. While the magazine's previous incarnation had its own Web site, a digital edition of Blueprint is now linked to BBVA Compass' main Web site via the press page. “We felt it was a good idea from a corporate perspective to have one common site, but we tried to keep the magazine within two or three clicks [from the home page] to keep it pretty flat,” Bilek said.

Bilek stressed that print remains the anchor for Blueprint. “There is still a large amount of customers who want something tangible,” he said. “Managers want something they can carry around with them.”

Measurement of the publication's impact remains a challenge. “I'm not sure you can measure it in tangible terms,” Bilek said. “We're getting more requests from our lines of business and good feedback from customers. Companies are highlighting the magazine when they're coming in [to do business], and that's the success.” —M.S.

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