Being one of the fastest-moving businesses in the world, the publishing industry has witnessed a significant transition in the past five years. Publishing brands have started to eye the digital sphere hand-in-hand with their print business, bringing digital sensibility to the glossy magazines. The Brandberries has exclusively interviewed May Abdel Asim, CEO of Media & More – the publisher of What Women Want Magazine, on her take on digital, brand culture and what do women want.

BB: Since its establishment, What Women Want Magazine has been shaking things, redefining the impactful role women magazines should do. What is the brand story behind this media titan ?

May Abdel Asim

MA: Since its launch in 2006, we have been aiming at creating a brand that stands for women empowerment. Our main aim is changing the lives of Egyptian women one girl at a time. It was never going to be just another magazine, but a strong brand with solid values and outreach. 12 years later we are the founders of a large women empowerment movement called “Hanefra7 Biki Emta by What Women Want…Magazine” and have branched out to different sectors all with the aim of telling real tales and shedding light on real women with their struggles and achievements.

BB: Brand differentiation is a cornerstone of brand strategy. To be different is to not be the same. To be unique is to be one of a kind. In a nutshell, what distinguishes What Women Want ?

MA: We have always been different and evolved with time into the brand we are now. Our core strength is authenticity, we tell real stories from disruptive angles. We have a thing for the underdog, for people who are not in the mainstream limelight and for anything that screams inspirational. Inspirational for us translates into stories worth telling and the best stories come from real life, without any filters. We consider every cover story a new challenge to create a statement, and each one has to be honest and real. Our last cover created controversy and was applauded by many for it featured three beautiful plus size models being covered by many reputable media channels such as BBC Arabic. Another cover of ours reached TV fame with the beautiful Rahma Khaled, a Special Olympics Champion dressed in couture. A few years back a cover story titled “life is beautiful” featured three wheelchair users telling their life story. We work hard to do things differently matching our brand values and vision. We try to share with our readers whatever inspires and motivates us.

BB: Cultivating a brand culture has always been one of the most pivotal brand success pillars. What are the main highlights of the brand culture that you’ve cultivated inside What Women Want magazine across the ?

MA: I pride myself to have the best team ever. My Editor-in-Chief Reem Gamil has been part of the team for almost a decade starting as a fresh graduate and years later heading the team. Giving creative and managerial space is important to grow and cultivate a strong team. Part of the brand culture is our ethical code of conduct that we abide by all the time. Once we had shot a cover with two cancer survivors and after being in the print house we received information that questioned one of our cover stars and we stopped printing, adjusted the cover and reprinted. Credibility is everything if you want to stay in business, cultivate your brand and your team. Sticking to your brand core values and essence must reflect in the outcome and behind the scenes when no one is watching. That’s what they are for.

BB: It’s noticeable that What Women Want has in its brand DNA the pioneering mission of advocating for women rights and the challenges they face in the region. Please comment.

MA: This has always been our main aim. We love what we do and we sincerely believe in this cause. Empowering women is the road to a better future for any nation. It is a scientific fact that empowered women give back to their communities; hence benefit society as a whole. When we started the market was different and we had to reach out to the English-speaking segment with the aim that change in our part of the world happens from top to bottom. Now 12 years later the need for our content in Arabic has risen hence we are launching in Arabic soon to cater to a wider segment. Yes, women empowerment is in our DNA.

BB: The past five years have been quite transformative. The publishing industry in the region has been reinvigorated with the digital renaissance the world is witnessing. Some publishing brands in the region have gone radical and shut down their print editions, moving completely to the digital outlets, while others have maintained both. What’s your take ?

MA: Just like TV didn’t kill radio, Kindle didn’t kill the book. I understand the struggle and I live it daily but each channel has its target segment. We are successful online and in print as well as on our social media channels. Each medium has its own characteristics, once this is clear you can work on a 360 solution to cover the market. I personally have a Kindle yet can’t stop buying books; nothing beats the smell of a fresh print.

BB: Having established one of the most noteworthy publishing brands in the region, can you elaborate on What Women Want’s brand promise ? What do you promise your reader ?

MA: I promise our readers that they always come first. No brand, no advertiser, no money in the world would lure us into losing our integrity. Ethical conduct and authenticity earned us our credibility which we would never risk compromising. We promise to stay true to ourselves and to our readers. Pinky promise 🙂

BB: What do women want ?

MA: Everything 🙂