Catalog Design: 5 Strategies for Catalogs that Build Relationships with Customers

catalog design photo of cover from Pearson Farm showing pecans and food packaging designs

Make your product catalog do more than deliver sales information. Empower it to build a relationship with customers that, in turn, builds your brand. Here are 5 strategies for getting the most out of your product catalog design.

  1. Create a Brand Personality.

Just like people, brands have personality. If you haven’t thought of your company brand that way, chances are your brand’s personality is coming across as boring or non-existent. Or, you are forcing your personal image onto your brand. Like that waitress at the airport food court restaurant who is too tired, busy and trapped in self-loathing to muster anything that resembles personality during her 20 second interaction with me. And, just like that waitress, we are often too caught up in the frantic pace of running our businesses to stop and consider what our product catalog design says about our brand. In fairness, its often hard to see yourself through an objective perspective and very easy to assume customers “get it” because you “get it” clearly. That’s why relying on an experienced brand designer is so valuable. Creative communications professionals can interpret product brands in visual ways that are engaging, memorable and convert browsers to customers. It’s like getting a personal stylist for your outfit, hair, makeup and resume to help you nail that game changing interview. And every customer that views your product catalog is engaging you in an interview to win their business.

  1. Use Graphic Design to Communicate Your Brand’s Personality

The online shopping experience often lacks the personal touch that face-to-face interactions deliver. Even telephone conversations do at least a respectable job of establishing a personal connection between you (your brand) and your customer. But when so many consumers shop online and make their entire buying decisions void of human contact, the next best thing you can do is inject your brand’s personality into your catalog and communicate that personality through your catalog design. Elements like large lifestyle photography, emotionally-driven text, carefully chosen color and photos of your actual team members helps create a sense of knowing your brand, even without meeting or speaking to anyone. With knowledge comes a sense of trust. And, people tend to buy from who they know and trust. If your brand is fun and outgoing, your catalog design should be presented the same way: lots of colorful backgrounds and playful text layouts. Photos clipped out from boring white backgrounds and interacting with the pages and text. Photos of the products in action or in use by fun people and set in fun environments. You get the gist.

  1. Product Hero Photos

Hero photos are large, detailed and dynamic photos of your product or services in use or action. They are also sometimes referred to as glamor photos or beauty photos. The idea is to give the customer an up-close and personal view of your products where they can appreciate all the details that a thumbnail photo can’t deliver. This includes things like finishes, stitching, color, and controls that have to be examined in detail to be appreciated. Think of it this way. If a customer would hold your product and bring it closer to their face to study its details in person, then you need to deliver that kind of experience through your catalog design. When I say hero photos, I mean big photos. Really big. HUGE. They larger the better. You can usually fit a few products in one photo, or different angles the same products and display it at or near full page size, or as a two-page spread. (A spread means two facing pages are viewed as one wide panoramic page when your catalog is held open. Your products are the heros of your business. Give them hero status in your catalog by making them larger than life!

  1. Quick-Scan Features

In retail environments, packaging design has 3 seconds to deliver your product’s value and “why-to-buy” message. Catalog design needs the same fast-scan capability. Each product should have a quick-scan zone where a customer can see the top features, value and price within 3 seconds. If you accomplish this task, and they connect with your product or service, you earn the next step in their review process: a detailed exploration of your product page. Fail to deliver and they move onto another competitor that knew how to delivery quick scan details, and you’ve lost the sale. Other graphic design elements help drawn and keep attention in quick scan zones such as icons, mini-photos and detail photos that illustrate your features and benefits. Your catalog designer can help you with creative solutions for your quick-scan zones.

  1. Less is More

When it comes to catalog design, less clutter per page delivers more sales. We are so inundated with media information that experiencing a product catalog where the design provides ample areas of clear space, uncluttered pages, and easy-to-read and understand product experiences makes for a great buying experience and helps build your brand’s personality shine through. Catalogs like this also experience higher conversion rates (converting targets to customers) than catalogs that jam as much into each page as possible. It may be hard to accept for some people, but white space is your friend. White space allows out eyes to rest for split seconds that are undetectable to us in the moment, but result in happier, positive experiences for customers. Less clutter equals more sales.

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