Creative: Do’s and Don’ts for Great Catalog Creative
If your goal is to produce high-quality, response-generating catalog creative -- and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want that as an ideal goal -- here are a few do’s and don’ts.
Don’t get caught up in the “concept of pretty.” Having an aesthetically pleasing catalog is great, but your creative staff’s real mission is to get your company’s message across clearly and quickly, says Sarah Fletcher, creative director of Catalog Design Studios, a Providence, R.I.-based catalog design agency, and an industry speaker. “A clear message trumps pretty in a big way,” says Fletcher. “The objective of the catalog design exercise is not to produce art, but to convey your company’s message to the customer.”
Do understand how design conveys your brand message. Fletcher uses the “chic vs. cheap” scenario to clarify this point. Everyone wants his or her catalogs to look gorgeous. But if your brand promise includes low prices and good value, you’re unlikely to effectively convey that with a chic catalog design, says Fletcher.
“You’ll lose prospects who see the design and immediately think you’re not right for them,” she notes. “Prospects won’t hunt, dig and search your catalog. You have three seconds to hook them. So if you sell on price, you need to get that message across very quickly.”
Do define your brand message, then find a way to convey that in the copy. Fletcher offers an example here: One of her clients, a food cataloger, has a lemon cake that truly is outstanding. “You could write copy that says, ‘This cake is outrageously good,’ and people will yawn and turn the page,” says Fletcher. “In talking with the client, however, we discovered some information about the cake’s buyers that we used in the copy.”
The new copy notes that five presidents and 27 Academy Award winners have ordered this lemon cake. “The cataloger totally ran out of cakes after that copy went into the catalog,” says Fletcher. “They had to run and make more cakes. You have to find those quick, easy-to-read stories that really tell people how great your products are.”