Case Study – Challenge Magazine


Challenge is a bi-monthly publication by the PS21 Office, Singapore Public Service Division. With the clients’ support, Tuber has made Challenge a trusted yet refreshing icon of the Public Service. Readers often write in to say they cannot believe it is published by the typically staid government.


Tuber first won the tender in 2010 as a relative unknown. Our daring proposal (“R.I.P. PS21”) left a deep impression—opening the doors for us to produce the most influential government publication in Singapore.


We revamped the lacklustre magazine and proposed a new masthead and tagline (“Approaching the Public Service differently”). The tagline reminds the client to keep pushing the envelope in terms of asking the bold questions, on behalf of its readers. The refreshed approach won a number of international awards in 2011. In 2015, Challenge was named the Best Government Publication by the Content Marketing Awards. In 2017, Tuber revamped Challenge yet again—updating its aesthetics and making it a smaller, more handy read.


Tuber is not a vendor but a creative consultant and partner with valuable insight. For each issue of Challenge, we brainstorm ideas, spot and research on trends, highlight personalities for profile interviews, and pitch stories that appeal to a wide range of readers, which include senior leaders and parliamentarians. Words and design must go as one to tell a story well. So even before the writing begins, the editorial and design teams brainstorm the story visually—how can this story best be told? Should it be heavy on photographs, illustrated, or in a Q&A form? This guides how our story is written and later presented in design.


A free magazine risks being ignored; a free government magazine risks being trashed. We have successfully turned heads with unconventional photographs of civil servants. Taking inspiration from pop culture references like Borat and Trainspotting, our aim is to surprise and enthrall the readers visually so that the stories are eventually read.


We love to deliver conceptual covers. For a cover story on racism in Singapore, we aimed to portray the touchy issue in a visually arresting yet unpredictable way. We started off with an idea of using the Pantone chart to show different shades of skin colours. After further brainstorming, we went local instead by using Singapore’s unique line up of beverages to represent the different races. The cover certainly grabbed eyeballs and earned praises from readers.


Challenge is read by a wide audience who differ in rank seniority, age and taste. Hence, the magazine has a wide range of articles: longer intellectual pieces; shorter human-interest features; lifestyle tips; and this useful insert we call the Pullout. Every well-researched issue gives readers helpful tips on a certain topic, always with a dose of humour.


Apart from providing design and editorial consultancy for the magazine, Tuber also designed collaterals for the annual Public Service week. These items encapsulate the Challenge brand of thinking differently.


Since we took charge of Challenge, the magazine has undergone numerous improvements. The latest iteration is smaller in size, and has a clean, modern look. A style guide helps us to keep the magazine consistent, no matter which designer is working on it.