Catalog Production: Sorting Out a Complex Process
Catalog design and production today are faster than ever, but the process still can be daunting. The steps outlined here begin with branding considerations and end with catalog printing. Some firms add interim proofing steps that may or may not improve the catalog, but certainly do add to the expense.
For that reason, consider these to be the optimum number of steps needed to efficiently organize the production process to create a catalog on time and on budget. (In addition to the 17 outlined below, you’ll find 10 more key steps online, if you follow the story to the Web at end of this article.)
A good brand gives a cataloger a competitive edge. And to succeed, every company needs a competitive edge, every employee needs to know what the brand is and stands for, and every customer needs to believe it’s meaningful. The entire creative process — look, tone, feel — flows from this definition.
1. Know your unique selling proposition, the part of the brand strategy that distinguishes you from the competition — be it lowest price, best quality, largest selection, unique or hard-to-find merchandise, killer service, etc. This often is expressed as a corporate tagline.
When your brand strategy is clear to all employees, your merchandise selection, catalog and Web site will reflect it and communicate your strength to customers. On the other hand, if you can’t differentiate yourself from the competition, your chances of success are greatly diminished.
2. Pay attention to the look of your catalog. It should reflect your branding, all the way from the tone of voice used in your copy to the paper and the product density per page, to the style of photography and the fonts you employ.
Upscale merchandise, for example, requires an open, elegant look, and often demands more copy, while inexpensive or sale merchandise often can be displayed in a more dense format with emphasis on price instead of on long, descriptive copy.