Use Editorial to Enhance Your Brand

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In today's crowded catalog marketplace, brands have had to develop unique approaches to differentiate their offers as well as make consumers take notice.


Among the paradoxes in catalog design is the use of editorial content, so-called non-selling art and copy. Many of the most successful catalog brands effectively employ this technique to elevate their brand above their competition and generate tremendous brand loyalty.


Here are ways you can include editorial content as well as examples of those using it to their advantage.


Suggest uses for your products. Among the most recognized brands that feature editorial well is Williams-Sonoma. Not only do its recipes offer consumers explicit use of products shown on a given page, they enhance the residence time of each catalog issue through the inclusion of this reference material. That coffee table value makes enhancing copy a valuable tool in helping consumers decide what catalogs they keep versus those they throw away.


Authenticate brand-name products. Williams-Sonoma has done an excellent job here, too. Though Miele Vacuums may be a familiar name to some, the tinted panel reminding you of the precision German engineering of the "family-owned company founded in 1899" helps justify the selection of this particular item.


Another outstanding example of enhancing brand authenticity is used by modern design furniture cataloger Design Within Reach. Biographical blurbs, complete with thumbnail-sized head shots of the furniture designers, help give life to the minimalist room sets. They also help create a historical and inspirational context upon which the fairly high-priced furniture is based.


Feature customers. Brand loyalty is an affiliation game whereby the consumer wants to relate or aspire to the lifestyles of those in the brand family. Many brands create a fictional portrayal of that in their photographic approach.


But cataloger Frontgate, by introducing a "Featured Home of the Month" on its opening spread, dedicates this key catalog location to delivering a real-life payoff on its tagline "Outfitting America's Finest Homes." These magnificent homes and their owners are pictured along with their testimonials and "favorite pastimes." You're even invited to send a few snapshots of your home if you're interested in being featured in Frontgate.


In its holiday book, outdoor apparel cataloger Patagonia did an incredible job incorporating amazing photographs and copy highlighting the outdoor "midwinter adventures" of avid customers. Even if you're not ready to tackle the summit of Everest, you can't help but want the same gear as those who did. Sometimes, it is in the real portrayals of the use of your products that you can close the sale off the page.


Expand your brand experience. Many brands that produce catalogs to sell products forget other ways consumers experience their brands. Reminding people of that in your catalog can enhance the perception of the product presented.


Several professional sports franchises have done this quite well. Teams as diverse as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Manchester United - in addition to offering the expected range of authentic jerseys, caps and T-shirts - create a keepsake out of their catalog by including trivia questions, historical team facts, contests and live-action player photography. These features cost nothing extra to add, yet offer a far more valued way to sell product.


Highlight your generosity. How better to create a more balanced relationship between you and your customers than to dedicate space in your catalog to highlight your charitable nature. Many catalogers today are involved in local and national endeavors. It's what you already do and take for granted that so many of your customers never get a chance to appreciate.


In summary, it is ironic that these non-selling ideas can be among the most effective ways brands can sell themselves to consumers. And none of these techniques has to compromise your required product density, descriptive selling copy or product photography. The courage that the aforementioned brands demonstrated to enhance the presentation of their product is rewarded in increased customer loyalty, and the word-of-mouth value that good editorial content can generate is immeasurable.


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