Hearst Logo

Visual language unifies a global brand for increased sales

Guidance created a Magento 2.3 powered solution to unify Hearst’s diverse brand portfolio leveraging global navigation and a universal cart. 
5 minute read

Who Should Read This?

This case study will be especially relevant for those interested in the following topics:

  • Multi-brand Solution
  • Magento Headless
  • Cross-sell/Upsell Opportunities
  • Super-Navigation
  • Page Builder
  • Magento Platform Upgrade
  • Subscription Services
  • Single Sign-on
  • Global cart and checkout


With a huge portfolio of brands and an endless need to satisfy each brand’s unique requirements, Hearst looked to Guidance as Adobe Commerce experts to unify their many brands under a consistent visual language, a unified Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud platform, a super navigation and a global cart/checkout solution for increased cross-sell and upsell opportunities.


Founded in 1887, Hearst is one of the nation’s oldest and largest publishers of content across various platforms including magazine, television, newspaper, radio, online and many other channels. Hearst’s major interests include television networks, global financial services, medical information businesses, transportation assets, solutions for managing jet and helicopter maintenance, newspapers, over 300 magazines globally, digital services businesses and investments in emerging digital entertainment companies.

Unifying Hearst with a global navigation

As a parent brand grows and acquires new brands under its label, it’s often difficult to provide customers with a unified brand experience. Hearst looked to Guidance to develop a cohesive brand experience via a global navigation structure (a mega menu of all brands housed under the Hearst parent company). This Super Navigation had to contain a global shopping cart and checkout, unified account management (including customer Single Sign-On capabilities) and the ability for customers to explore multiple brands within a streamlined and conversion-focused user experience. Moreover, this single but global navigation had to scale to satisfy each brand’s product taxonomy, and some brands have large product selections while others have a small catalog.

Prevention Header Hearst

Examples of Prevention and Esquire magazines’ shared Super Navigation.

To solve this, Guidance had to restructure Hearst’s product organization and build it back up product by product. For each brand, Guidance created a new product taxonomy which served as the underpinnings of the navigation that was rolled out. In doing so, a single navigational pattern emerged to satisfy the product taxonomies of over 20 different brands. Furthermore, Hearst was looking for a navigational structure that would permit any customer to engage with the family of brands from one location. The Super Navigation that sits at the top of each brand site allows a Hearst customer to easily jump from brand to brand without interrupting their overall user experience. As the user navigates from brand to brand, the universal Shopping Cart and SSO (Single Sign-On) My Account area allows products from various brands to be added to a single shopping cart and purchased together.

Hearst Global Navigation Image

The global navigation now unites multiple Hearst magazines and permits the customer a multi-brand experience; the customer feels immersed in the Hearst parent brand while navigating through any child company. Whereas bundled products were not possible in the legacy platforms, the new unified platform with global cart and checkout allows for unlimited upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Not only does this help the customer familiarize with Hearst’s full portfolio of brands, the multi-store solution allows crosspollination across the entire experience. Customers can easily locate products with enhanced search, discover new products recommendations and checkout through an entirely unified user experience.


Migrating from Magento EE 1.x to Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud

Guidance upgraded Hearst from on-premise Magento EE 1.x to Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud to take advantage of ongoing Adobe security and infrastructure maintenance. This new infrastructure includes extensions like Fastly CDN and ElasticSearch and the cloud architecture will simplify scaling of the environment services as needed. One of the most important features is the unification of all brands under one platform thereby facilitating the management of all stores under one cart and checkout solution. This drastically reduces the need to duplicate resources for each store and creates a visual language dictated by the parent company Hearst and uniquely customizable for each brand in the company’s portfolio.

Magento 1 2 Migration Cart

ElasticSearch for improved site search

With the updated technology stack, the user interface has smoother and faster performance. As part of that updated solution, ElasticSearch was selected for improved website search. Not only does ElasticSearch have full-text search capabilities, its real differentiator is in its speed and enterprise-ready features. With so many brands in the Hearst portfolio, the need to index a complex database was integral to the project. As well, the team selected ElasticSearch for its wide set of features including scalability and resiliency, both of which are needed as the brands grow their online presence.


Search results include images and pricing for products across all of Hearst’s brand properties.

Improved speed and delivery with Fastly CDN

Hearst’s legacy is in its glossy, full-page imagery and content-heavy publications but such rich graphics, while visually stunning, pose page and image load issues online. Fastly CDN (Content Delivery Network) was chosen for its world-class dynamic site acceleration so desktop and mobile content is served seamlessly to the customer with no disruptions in load speed. The cloud platform enhances delivery of large objects (video or audio) and impressive imagery by accelerating dynamic assets and caching unpredictably changing content. The improved content delivery is a game changer for companies requiring ecommerce deployment with large objects, such as Hearst.

Global cart and checkout solution for increased sales

With all brands unified on the Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud platform, the Hearst team required a global cart and checkout solution. The new cart and checkout needed the parent company’s branding but with a look and feel that maintains each brand’s uniqueness. In redesigning the single shopping cart and checkout, Guidance had the opportunity to make huge improvements to the buying experience with a vastly improved subscription product detail page. And with mobile sales dominating ecommerce, the Guidance team ensured an efficient and sleek mobile first design resulting in a better shopping experience and increased sales.

Hearst Checkout - Los Angeles

Magento Page Builder for unparalleled flexibility

While the upgrade to Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud permits the unification of all brands onto one platform, the Hearst team was searching for a solution for a sleek, efficient design approach to scale each brand’s web presence. Guidance created a cohesive look throughout all the brands by implementing Magento’s Page Builder with custom modules built to Hearst’s branding specifications. It allows the Hearst team to quickly and simply build pages with drag and drop functionality while maintaining the branding’s layouts and functionality. Guidance designed and developed Magento’s Page Builder modules and empowered the Hearst team with detailed on-site training to ensure success for future scalability.

The project presented an interesting challenge in that the Page Builder layout required a visual language unique to each brand (over 27 of them!) while being housed in Hearst branding. The solution required single page templates for Homepage, Product Landing Page (PLP), Product Description Page (PDP), Gift Guides, etc for over 27 brands. The Guidance creative team solved this requirement with colors and styles for each brand in addition to consistent conventions across every brand and an overarching, unifying parent brand for Hearst.

Styleguide Hearst - Los Angeles

Leveraging reusable theming and UX design, Guidance developed custom configurations in the Magento Page Builder admin panel where the Hearst team can modify the color scheme, upload custom fonts and control navigation display--all within minutes. The Hearst team will save time and resources by empowering the marketing team with reusable dynamic blocks and in-line editing abilities. Without the dependencies on other teams, the marketing team can design content, preview it live and schedule publications all with relative ease. While Magento is the market leader in terms of the level of customization possible, the learning curve for catalog and content management can pose a challenge to teams across different departments. Guidance’s solution for Hearst is the best of both worlds: highly customizable with an easily mastered page builder interface.

Magento 2 Styleguide Customization

Simplicity to launch new stores

Hearst was searching for a solution to launch new stores quickly within their brand’s creative specifications. For example, Hearst curates many seasonal articles and product collections for holidays such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc and their legacy platform required months of pre planning prior to launch. In Guidance’s new solution, as each new store is added, a master theme is enabled. When the theme is installed, there are several premade page layouts that are created, using setup scripts and page builder extensions, complete with demo content. Content creation and editing had traditionally been a challenge to the Hearst team but Guidance provided the team with the ability to launch new stores, new marketing campaigns and gift guide templates within days versus months. The speed to launch has been remarkable and as new brands open stores beyond the current scope, the ability to scale is endless.

Magento 2 Pagebuilder Custom Components

CDS Global order management and fulfillment integration

As part of the platform upgrade, Hearst looked to Guidance for an integration of Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud with their Order Management System (OMS) and fulfillment system, CDS Global. The OMS is built into the Magento platform as modules, allowing for a seamless user interface (UI) and easy end-to-end automation. The CDS Global solution allows Hearst to maximize each customer transaction with targeted discounts, coupons, rebates and promotions based on customer purchase history.


“I am personally vested in making sure it makes it into the more modern clean systems - and I want to be a part of celebrating that success with everyone, because it’s a huge transition for our company - and that the president of magazines will love everything when it’s set.”
- Jennifer McAuliffe, Director of Program Management, Hearst

Cross-sell and upsell opportunities for increased AOV

Hearst’s legacy platforms did not support cross-selling or upselling within the family’s many brands. By combining Hearst’s brands onto a single and unified platform, Guidance was able to achieve not only a cohesive brand experience but the ability to cross-sell and upsell to customers. This option to bundle products and promotions will undoubtedly increase the Average Order Value (AOV) for each customer checkout. The Hearst marketing team has the ability to create campaigns that leverage products from multiple brands (whereas before this functionality did not exist) and the global cart and checkout solution allows customers to sign into one account and complete their purchase from that single transaction--that’s a powerful tool for any brand but especially for one with a myriad of brands.



Guidance delivered a unified platform experience on Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud with a visual language that consolidates Hearst’s portfolio without losing the uniqueness of each brand.


With this newly launched platform, Guidance designed a new global navigation and a universal cart and checkout solution capable of upselling and cross-selling for enhanced order volume and increased Average Order Value (AOV).


Hearst was searching for a solution to unite their brands with a consistent visual language and a cart and checkout experience that would facilitate upsell and cross-sell opportunities across every brand in the Hearst portfolio.

Guidance upgraded their legacy Magento platform to Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud and unified all brands onto a single cloud platform ready to scale as the company digitizes their entire catalog. This unified platform allows for a global navigation and universal cart and checkout solution, both conceived and built by Guidance following a creative and UX audit.

Whereas customers previously needed accounts for every brand, they now have a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution that permits full upsell and cross-sell potential--a powerful tool for a brand with a huge catalog.


  • Creative Audit
  • UI/UX Design
  • Creative Direction
  • Branding
  • Project Management
  • Technical Delivery
  • Technical Audit
  • Account Direction
  • Workflow Development
  • Technical Architecture
  • On-Site Training
  • Style Tile
  • Image Title


  • Magento 2.3 Commerce Cloud
  • Fastly CDN
  • Magento PageBuilder
  • Elastic Search
  • CDS Global
  • Magento SSO

Find out how Guidance can create solutions for you!