Last week, when we turned five years old, we launched seven new newsletters—focused on the most important areas at the intersection of business and areas like Personal finance, Retail, Climate tech, Education, Crypto Assets, Narrative Storytelling, and the Business of Sports.
We launched these newsletters because we knew that our smart and curious subscribers would love them. And if the past week’s response is any indication, they’re as excited reading them as we are writing them.
We’re staking our tomorrow to stay relevant for our subscribers.
So today, I’m really excited to launch another product that will transform the way subscribers read and consume The Ken’s business stories. It’s a product that we’ve been quietly building for a long time, and illustrates the distance that our infographics and visuals have progressed from our early years.
We’ve created this product with the aim of adding more value to our subscribers and what they pay for. Today, our subscription bundle already includes original, reported, longform articles that we’ve been writing for 5+ years; a comprehensive collection of 10 weekly newsletters on a range of specialised sectors penned by our expert, award-winning journalists; and all of this across two of the fastest and exciting geographies on the planet, India and Southeast Asia.
Today, that bundle becomes much stronger thanks to this product.
We are calling it Visual Stories.
Visual Stories is a product to help subscribers understand business by using the primary medium how business has always been understood—through charts. Sure, the written text is incredibly valuable, but in business, a single glance at a chart can tell a story in itself. Maybe it’s a trendline about revenue growth, or a scatter plot illustrating the competitive landscape, or a collection of screenshots about a new app. Visuals tell you stories in ways that text never can.
This is why no business subscription is truly complete without a way to let subscribers understand business through visuals.
And that’s what we’ve done today.
There are four reasons why visual stories are special.
1. Visual Stories tell a story, all by themselves
Back in December 2019, Prajakta, who heads the design function at The Ken, wrote a blogpost explaining how the design team thinks about infographics and visuals:
That is why we challenge ourselves every day to present numbers from our stories in ways that add meaning, context and interest. Like the words we use, our visualisations and infographics tell their own stories.
A graphic for us isn’t just a pretty chart that adds to the story—it is a story all on its own.
Just as our stories must make sense even if you take out our graphics, I try to ensure that each of our graphics tells a story even if you remove the text it was attached to.
Telling (visual) stories within stories, The Ken
And if you look at our infographics, you’ll see that she’s right.
Our infographics always tell a story, even in isolation.
But, just like our distinct narratives, our graphics go beyond simple bar graphs and pie charts to visually depict company strategies and non-numerical information.
For instance, here is a snapshot from a heavily illustrated story that tells a very humane tale on how Education in Indonesia was disrupted by Covid-19.
2. Visual Stories are original and can’t be found anywhere else
All visual stories have been created by The Ken’s wonderful design team across a range of companies, topics and sectors. The underlying data for the visuals have been painstakingly sourced through multiple research reports, datasets, or through The Ken’s original reporting.
If you are looking for one destination to visually understand business in Asia, there’s no better place other than The Ken.
3. Subscribers can consume business in a way they’ve never done before
We’ve always been known for our charts and infographics, but they’ve been embedded within our stories, in the context of what was written.
Not anymore. Now subscribers can read visual stories, and they can read just the visuals, if they’d like.
And we decided to build the best, and the most intuitive experience possible. We built it on our mobile apps, which is how a majority of our subscribers read The Ken.
All you need to do… is flip.
It’s a beautiful, mesmerizing experience that’s perfect for casual consumption when you have a few minutes of free time, and don’t want to read a longform story. Subscribers can flip through our visual stories, and if something catches their eye, they can read the reported story in just one click. We’ll be rolling out Visual Stories on our iOS and Android apps for subscribers progressively over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for that latest app update.
Of course, you can read them on the website as well. Just spend an afternoon clicking through our infographics, which look great on the big screen, or even a tablet.
4. Visual Stories aren’t starting from zero
Normally, when we launch something new, we have to start from scratch. That’s how we started in 2016, when we published our first longform story, or when we launched our podcast, or our newsletters. We started from zero, and built up.
How many visual stories do we have right now at launch, you ask?
Well over a thousand.
That’s because our visual stories have been sourced from hundreds of stories which we’ve been publishing for years, with more being added everyday.
It’s a rich, complete, product, and is ready for you to consume today.
If you start flipping through our visual stories today, you can spend hours on it, for weeks, even months and at the end of it, you’ll have a better understanding of business in Asia than most people around you.
A lot of people were involved in the making of Visual Stories, across multiple teams in design, editorial, product, and engineering. Someday, I’ll get the time to thank all of them.
There’s a lot more that we are going to do with Visual Stories. Like the ability to search by specific companies or topics, or to get recommendations, or to even suggest visual stories for you to read based on your interest.
All to make The Ken into the only business subscription you need.
You can check out Visual Stories here.
If you liked what you read above, and if it’s something you’d like to be a part of, that’s great, because we have an exciting announcement.
We are hiring an editorial graphics designer for the design team at The Ken to create beautiful visual stories like this.
If you know someone, send them this post, and ask them to apply here.