Case Study: New magazine design from Van De Vooren rejuvenates Canada's leading resource for dental professionals

Case Study by Jennifer Van De Vooren RGD, Creative / Design Director and Principal Consultant, Van De Vooren


The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is the national voice for current events and issues in dentistry. However, its main publication needed a new way to speak to Canada's dentists. Van De Vooren helped re-envision the 79-year-old print publication through the creation of a new name and brand. We helped introduce this refreshed brand to the Great White North with the creative design and production of the launch issue.



- 60 days for brand research and brand creation

- 40 days for launch issue art direction and design production.


Distribution Cycle

6 issues per year. Print and Digital.


Suggested Stock

Cover: 80 lb. Opus Dull Cover with “soft touch” aqueous coating.

Interior: 70 lb. dull text or semi-gloss.

The Canadian Dental Association’s bilingual publication (previously called JCDA) has been a source of industry information for Canadian dentists from coast to coast since 1935.



We delved into discovering where the publication had been and where it could go through industry research, basic trend analysis, feedback interviews and face-to-face discussions.


On the Inside 

For almost 80 years, the jCDA shared industry information with Canadian dentists in a traditional journal format. Before its 80th anniversary, the CDA wanted to create a new style of content to reflect Canadian dentists, transitioning to magazine format to better represent the perspectives of dental professionals, provide essential information to address their concerns, celebrate their accomplishments and share their stories.






On the Outside

We conducted research into the trends appearing in the dental and magazine industries. We sifted through our findings and blended what we found with the overall brand direction for this project. Some of the trends that informed our design included: typography-based word marks, not using a graphic identifier, the use of flat colours, full words (no acronyms), keeping names to a maximum of two words and using cover design grids that would give photography and features room to breathe.


Putting it Together 
Armed with this knowledge, Van De Vooren worked with the CDA to create a name and visual look-and-feel for the new magazine.


The new brand needed to communicate what the magazine would be (explanatory) and what it would stand for (emotive). To achieve both of these goals, the client wanted to see examples illustrating different levels of prominence for how the CDA brand would appear in the magazine, ranging from a gentle hint to a clear signal, including the Canadian Dental Association name directly in the magazine’s branding.


We ended up presenting a variety of brand concepts for the client to choose from, including full magazine cover mockups which showed the name and graphic elements working together in balance.



Expanding the Brand 

With a thumbs up for CDA essentials from the CDA’s Board of Directors, Van De Vooren took the concept from a concept to a functional brand. A brand kit was created, stocked full of elements such as custom icons, example applications, templates, bilingual word marks and typographic styles. A quick guide for applying different templates and understanding the specific features of the brand was also included to make the kit easy to use for the Canadian Dental Association’s staff. 



Turning Over a New Leaf 

The CDA essential’s launch issue would serve as the first glimpse of the new brand to dentists across Canada. Van De Vooren supported this launch issue with its art direction and graphic design. We worked on an article-by-article basis, laying out the artwork for each page as the content was being created. Special attention was paid to the visuals for each article to ensure that the custom graphics would highlight the copy in a relevant way and showcase the new style of content. 


Canada's Official Languages 

The Canadian Dental Association is a bilingual organization, and this needed to be reflected in the name, tagline, cover, magazine template and launch issue layout. The name options we presented had to communicate more than just a literal transition - we had to ensure that the same message and tone would come across in both English and French. The name and branding were the jumping off point for this - once approved by the Board, these elements were expanded into bilingual magazine templates and word marks. 


Van De Vooren then created the launch issue layout in English, giving continuous consideration to the fact that the French content would be 20-30% longer. All complex source files with text, such as Photoshop files, were created with smart objects or click-to-change features. This made it possible for the CDA's internal team to quickly and easily change the English version of the magazine's graphic layout to French.



Owning the Right Tools for the Future

The brand kit we provided gave the CDA's internal team the tools they would need to create future issues of the magazine, but we wanted to be sure they also had the initial support to do so.


Van De Vooren provided a tutorial session to Canadian Dental Association’s in-house graphic designer, including step-by-step instructions on how to use InDesign book files and other source files, and answering technical questions as they came up. This session provided the Canadian Dental Association with peace of mind moving forward, ensuring staff felt empowered to use the new magazine brand and layouts to meet their future needs. 


“The feedback to date has been VERY positive. Thank you SO much for everything. You and your team at Van De Vooren are a group of magicians.”
— Dr. John O’Keefe, Director, Knowledge Networks, Canadian Dental Association


Designer Takeaways

  1. An hour of research and discussion at the beginning of a project will save three hours of revisions at the end.
  2. Creative design is all about problem solving. It’s always important to make a list of the project’s criteria to check off, so you ensure your final designs look great AND work well.
  3. Give your client examples of what the work will look like in real application. Spend a bit of extra time adding in photographs to placeholders, or putting the artwork into a 3D mockup. This can greatly help your client envision the end product, so they can make informed decisions throughout the process.

Client Takeaways

  1. If you don’t take the time to consider both of Canada’s official languages until the very end, a bilingual final product will most likely look like it was also put together last minute. Keeping both French and English in mind right from the start can make for a smoother project with more polished results. Remember that French copy is usually 20-30% longer than English copy, and don’t forget to check that your fonts support all French characters.
  2. Read the great pointers from designers and agencies across Canada at the bottom of each of these RGD case studies. As we believe here at Van De Vooren, you’ll notice that trust, open communications and proper planning are shown to be key to a successful project between all clients and their creative agencies.


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