Live From ACCM: Roll Out a Red Carpet Catalog

New Orleans – A brand lives in your customer’s mind.

That was the theme of the opening segment of Monday’s intensive session, “Project Runway: Creating a Red Carpet Catalog.” Glenda Shasho Jones, president of New York-based catalog consulting firm Shasho Jones Direct, told attendees that the goal for all catalogers is to make money. “We want to influence purchasing behavior,” she noted.

How do we attain that goal of a consistent and vibrant brand? “Define your unique position,” Shasho Jones said. “Your positioning should reflect your price, relevance, and uniqueness.”

Keeping things simple is the best way to avoid a common pitfall among catalogers. “People want to be too many things,” Shasho Jones explained. “People want to be everything to everybody.”

Simple, straightforward tag lines can go a long way in strengthening and differentiating your brand. Many well known catalogs, such as J. Crew and Coldwater Creek, would be known if company logos were covered up, Shasho Jones added.

The visual aspect of branding is vitally important. “It’s okay to be safe, but it’s better to be dramatic,” Shasho Jones said. Examples of “dramatic” catalogers include Victoria’s Secret, Lands’ End, and Frontgate. Photography is a critical brand-building element. “To build brand, you really have to invest in photography,” Shasho Jones explained. “Dramatization works a lot in photography. Look for opportunities to build brand within your catalog with photography.”

When using models, Shasho Jones said, selecting the right ones and “styling them the right way” is integral to the final spread. Sometimes, similar catalogs can use models in such a way whereby the differentiation factor is lost. Shasho Jones cited some sexy shots of models in Boston Proper and Victoria’s Secret were incredibly comparable, falling into the realm of “too close for comfort.”

Some cover themes that continue to work well are children and pets, which she said are proven to boost performance. Differentiation and design = recognition, Shasho Jones said. Organization and illustration can also result in big results. “When you put a smile on someone’s face, you make then much more receptive to your offer,” she noted.

Editorially, providing “sturdy copy” with relevant information helps establish authority, Shasho Jones said. Using the customer’s voice in testimonials with photos enhances the brand and adds a distinct degree of credibility. Furniture cataloger Design Within Reach provides artists’ backgrounds.

Shasho Jones described “at a glance” comprehension, which allows customers to have an immediate understanding of the catalog. Visuals always help customers as well, she noted, especially with performance products.

Strategic use of color can also be a “big opportunity” in building brand recognition. “Color alone isn’t a brand, but it can be a brand reminder,” Shasho Jones said.

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