Daniel Smith, Reference Catalog ’97-’98

The use of customer art on the cover is “a great idea!” proclaims one judge about Gold Award winner Daniel Smith. In fact, this catalog of artists’ materials uses its customers’ original artwork throughout the book, which lends an artistic creativity to the reference book format. “Featuring a work of art instead of a product is a good way to attract an audience of people who work with visual images,” comments another panelist.

Inside, Daniel Smith sells a vast assortment of colorful products such as paints, pencils, pastels, and inks, as well as supplies like papers, canvases, rollers, and easels. The merchandise selections are well laid out on the pages and thoroughly categorized, says one judge: “It’s easy to follow the pricing grids, which are nicely tied to the photographs.” Indeed, the design allows a multitude of products to be featured clearly and concisely, says another panelist. “And the photography really pops,” considering the catalog’s 50-lb. paper stock for the text pages.

The informative, descriptive copy does a good job of selling product while establishing clear differences among similar items, and it provides a number of helpful hints for selecting products. “I get the feeling that an artist wrote the copy,” observes a judge. Also, another panelist points out, “the headlines give great information before you need to read the somewhat lengthy, but appropriate, copy.” For example, the headline “Large, rustproof mixing knives” identifies the merchandise and points out its unique selling point before you read any of the details.

Daniel Smith seems to “stay way ahead of what customers want and need” and is concerned with customer satisfaction, says a judge. The introductory letter indicates that a well-trained and helpful customer service staff is ready and willing to help you; part of the letter states, “Since we know that filling your orders is the most important thing we can do, we’re constantly improving our inventory controls to make sure what you need is available when you need it.”

The catalog also devotes a significant amount of space to educating the customer. More than two dozen information boxes are scattered throughout the catalog, including tips on paintbrush care, advice on choosing a surface for pastel painting, an introduction to water gilding, and a glossary of paper terms. “Page space dedicated to information can pay for itself when it extends the life of the book,” notes one judge. Even better, such value-added information helps a cataloger build brand authority and present itself as a category leader and authority. In this case, Daniel Smith leads the graphics and art supplies category as the Gold Award winner.

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