So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to show the world what you’re made of by introducing your products in a well-formatted, easy to read product catalogue.
But up until now, you’ve never even thought about creating a catalogue. So, you’re essentially stuck on where to begin. While you could just stick all your products on a page and hope for the best, there is actually a range of things that you can do to ensure your catalogue stands out to your customers and wins their attention. Before long, they’ll be queuing at your premises or browsing your online store.
Before you even consider getting cracking on visually designing a product catalogue, here are a few things you must consider:
🤌 Wow them with the front cover
As much as we tell people not to judge a book by its cover, the hard truth is that we all do it. Whether you’re at a book shop, looking at a movie poster or even hanging around a new person, your first impression is ultimately also your final one. So your front cover needs to look good enough for people to want to discover your range.
Now, I’m not saying it needs to have the ‘best’ font or use the standard colours that all businesses choose for their catalogue. By looking ‘good enough’ it essentially just needs to be graphically designed well enough to communicate to your target audience. For example, a fusion restaurant would want its catalogue or menu to appeal to those who are daring and like trying new things. Whereas an online retailer for authentic, frozen dumplings would want to follow a traditional Chinese theme.
This doesn’t mean you need to overcomplicate things! Just be sure to give people the right first impression through a clear logo, branding and featured image, so that when they open your catalogue it provides exactly the information they were expecting.
📸 Image first, description second
Have you ever opened up a piece of marketing material where the description field comes first? It can be really hard to keep track of which images refer to each product. Before long, the format does become incredibly confusing. Though it seems strange, our brains have been trained to understand that images should always come first in visual content. So, it’s best to keep it that way.
Staying repetitive with this format throughout your catalogue is also a great way to avoid confusion. But, it can also cause your customer’s interest to fizzle down much quicker. I find the best balance is to keep about 80% of the catalogue consistent and to use feature pages, page breaks and larger images now and then to keep their interest during their entire engagement.
✨ The image quality matters
Yes, you know that your product features are incredible or that your dishes taste great, but your customers can’t see this on paper. If you don’t have any high-quality images of your products, I highly recommend booking a product shoot before composing your catalogue. This will help you to better sell the dream and experience that your customers will uncover once they try your product for the first time.
Pro tip: Ensure all your images are high resolution/300dpi as this is a basic requirement for any professional printer.
🎯 Keep the message simple
When it all buckles down to it, your catalogue should just be a catalogue. Nothing more and nothing less.
Many business owners often get carried away when designing their catalogue and try to incorporate too many messages into the copy. With a forcible call to action and incredibly lengthy product descriptions, these catalogues quickly go from a simple way to showcase products to a convoluted sales pitch.
When visually designing your catalogue remember only basic information is needed. Your images are the hero and will do all the heavy lifting for you, so long as they get the chance to occupy the spotlight.
Pro tip: If you feel like your customers need more information, it can go into your website. Websites can be updated and changed more frequently too. This means you won’t need to redesign your entire catalogue due to a change in supplier, ingredients or product information.
🧐 Think of the order process
People don’t like looking for information on how to complete their transactions with your company. So, be sure to add this to your catalogue. Should they head to your website, call a contact number or send an SMS to a particular line? Make sure this is all listed at the back of the catalogue or designed into the footer; so you don’t miss out on sales.
🤷♀️ Digital v.s. Print - which one is better?
When possible, use both. Having an interactive, graphically designed, fillable PDF works well for most customers. However, some still prefer good ol’ pen and paper. Having both formats on hand at any time can make sure that the needs and preferences of all of your customers are met. Having a catalogue in their preferred format is also more likely to drive them to your checkout.
When working with a designer, be sure to ask if they can turn the final copy into an interactive PDF. This will save you plenty of time and Google searches in the future.
Pro Tip: uploading your final PDF to a site like ISSUU, can help increase your brand awareness and create custom links.
👀 OK what now?
As I mentioned, building a catalogue is NOT easy. And if you don’t have the right programs, it just becomes more and more difficult. I have seen countless business owners develop catalogues in MS word (sorry Microsoft), only to lose their patience with its fiddly tools at a moment’s notice.
When you want a product catalogue that stands out and speaks to your audience, I have the graphic design experience you need. In fact, with over 12 years in designing catalogues, brochures, advertisements and pamphlets for other businesses, I consider myself quite the expert. Plus, I also offer product photography, meaning we can kill two birds with one stone.