REDESIGNS: W-S cooks up a new look

Williams-Sonoma, the San Francisco-based cataloger/retailer of cooking and entertaining products, has revamped its $100 million catalog – and according to Patrick Connolly, executive vice president/general manager of direct-to-customer, the redesign was long overdue.

“We increased the size of our catalog in 1994 and haven’t varied it much since then,” Connolly says. “We felt it was time to see what changes we could make that would increase the clarity of what we’re offering our customers.”

The redesign, which debuted with the Early Autumn 1999 catalog edition, “was based in part on hopes of consolidating our brand image,” says Ali Litrownick, catalog production coordinator. “We wanted to reconcile the look of our Website, print catalog, and retail.”

For instance, the new cover logo, which spells out the name of the catalog in gold letters, is intended to reflect the stately appearance of Williams-Sonoma storefronts, which bear the name in the same gold lettering. And the catalog, like the stores, is now divided into departments such as cooks’ tools, cutlery, and glassware.

The redesign also includes more editorial providing the history of catalog products, and tips on how to use them. For instance, a spread selling flatware features tips and anecdotes about flatware from Peri Wolfman’s book Forks, Knives & Spoons. Litrownick says the increased editorial was designed to more strongly establish Williams-Sonoma’s authority on cooking-related subjects.

Though he won’t disclose figures, Connolly says response to the redesign has been favorable: “We’re very happy. You won’t see us going back to the old design.”