By Carolyn Heinze
How to maintain consistency in creative endeavors throughout your sales channels.
As the number of channels through which catalogers promote their products increases, so, too, does the need for consistency among an organization's marketing materials. If you want both existing customers and prospects to recognize your brand, the elements that are used in your catalog must appear on your Web site, in your e-mail campaigns and, if applicable, at the retail level.
It sounds like common sense, but if your creative processes aren't streamlined, consistency can be difficult to achieve.
"Some companies, like Harry and David, are really good at keeping it all aligned: their Web sites, e-mails and stores," notes Carol Worthington-Levy, partner of creative services at Lenser, a catalog consultancy. "One of the real keys to success is that catalogs, when they get to a certain size, start bringing all the creative in house." In this way, companies can implement what she refers to as "brand police" — people charged with ensuring that all creative elements remain consistent.
Even when organizations outsource creative services, they still can enforce seamlessness in the form of a brand standards guide — a sort of styles manual that details how creative elements should appear in each channel. "Those working on the channels — from the person designing the store to the designers and production people working on the catalog — must understand the value of teamwork and give up their own personal expression of who they think the client is," Worthington-Levy says. "Instead, they need to embrace the value proposition that's been cited as the right one for the client. They can't reinvent things every time."
Instructions on color palettes, logos, fonts and photography should be readily accessible to everyone involved in the process. Worthington-Levy says the best way to present this is on an FTP site, where members of the creative team can download the information they require. On the FTP site, place all photography your company owns. Take-away tip: If you don't own photos outright, have instructions on the site on whom to contact to get a contract extension from the photographer. Says Worthington-Levy, "Most photographers don't sell photography outright; they sell usage rights."