10 Best Practices For Great Catalog Design

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10 Best Practices For Great Catalog Design

Catalogs: EDJ inkA great catalog design can be an efficient way to get products in front of potential customers for both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) applications.

Most of the information processed by our brain is visual, and people usually respond better to text that is supplemented with highly appealing graphics. Since there is so much competition for people’s attention, proper execution is the key to great catalog design, getting your catalog opened up and used instead of heading straight to the recycling bin.

Incorporate these 10 best practices when designing your catalog for a final product that will truly open eyes and wallets:

Know Your Audience

Is your product sold business-to-business or business-to-consumer? Are your target customers younger, older, male or female? The style of your catalog needs to appeal to the preferred style of the demographic you are trying to reach. A generic, one-size-fits-all approach will not provide the effect you are looking for.

The message should begin right up front with the cover design. You have only a few seconds to capture a viewer’s attention. Make them count with a strong visual that provides a compelling reason to dive into the catalog.

Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak

This classic slogan expresses a basic marketing concept: give people what they want, not what they need. No matter how practical a purchase may be, buying decisions are based on emotional reactions driven by subconscious associations a buyer makes with a product and its features.

Your customer aspires to a particular lifestyle or goal, so demonstrate how your product will help them achieve it. All the elements of the catalog should be designed around that message.

Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If you use poor-quality photos that give a negative, misleading or incomplete picture of your product, you won’t get a second chance to correct that first impression. Don’t skimp on high-quality, first-rate images for your catalog. For best results, hire a professional who is skilled and knowledgeable about the art of photography in business applications.

Make It Easy to Buy

When a customer has to work too hard to buy, it’s the surest way to lose them. Make sure the catalog gives them all the information they need throughout each step of the buying decision, including more than one method to actually make the purchase.

Size Does Matter

Size denotes importance. This idea applies to catalog design in a couple of different ways.

  • Simply put, the largest items in a graphic will generate the most sales. The most important products should be given the most visual space. Feature them individually or in small groups with related products. Doing otherwise will dilute the message and subconsciously confuse the buyer.
  • Overall profit is a factor to consider when portioning space. Products with the highest margin are not necessarily the ones that generate the most profit over time.

Clean, Easy To Read Copy

  • Don’t get carried away with font styles. The catalog will end up looking cheap and amateurish. Stick with two or three carefully chosen styles that are professional-looking and visually appealing. Use of novelty fonts should be done sparingly only to achieve a specific effect.
  • Text should be consistent throughout the catalog. Apply the same spacing, font thickness and placement to individual elements such as product number and price.
  • A catalog should not be confused with a novel. The visuals are always the main attraction. Text should be just long enough to give a sufficient amount of information without detracting from the photos and graphics.

Use Great Catalog Design to Reinforce Your Brand

A brand is much more than just a name. Your brand is the essence of your company, and it lets your customers know what to expect time after time. That consistency should run through the elements of your catalog so viewers will make the association instantly and be eager to read further.

Resist the urge to change it up just because you are tired of seeing the same thing. Brand recognition is a precious asset, and even the slightest alteration can disrupt and damage it. Familiarity breeds trust, and trust generates sales.

Cross-Promote with Digital Platforms

Leverage the synergy of your catalog and your online presence for greater mileage.

  • Post a .pdf copy of the catalog on your website.
  • Promote the catalog with mentions on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, with links back to the website.
  • Include your website URL and other online addresses in the catalog.

Economize Strategically

It may be tempting to cut costs by using low quality printing materials, low-resolution graphics and images, or any other methods that lessen the overall quality of the catalog. The overall success of the catalog hinges on the quality of the catalog printing.  Using high quality input materials, including high quality paper and high resolution images is absolutely critical.

An efficient way to reduce expenses is using a more cost-effective format. Consider “Slim Jim” or digest sizes that are less costly to mail. In addition, plan a total page count in an increment of 16 to coordinate with the signatures used by printers. The bottom line is striking a balance in size between economy and impact.

Track Your Results

Develop a set of metrics to use in evaluating the performance of the catalog. Determine the highest- and lowest-selling products, where they were placed, profits generated by each item, and other criteria that will help you gauge success. Using a code to be entered at the point of sale helps track purchases that result from the catalog.

Once you have the data on the products, you can compare it to the catalog costs per square inch to find the items that produced the best overall return. The information is valuable help in planning the design of your next catalog for optimum performance.

As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right. The time, effort and expense you put into producing a high quality catalog will most assuredly pay off with a better brand image, more sales and higher profits.