Friday, 12 November 2010

Another look at The Linen Press

In our July/August 2010 edition, our contributor Anne Hadfield of Brahm (now Brass), reviewed the spring edition of The Linen Press catalogue (below). She found it charming and full of potential, but the creative lacked “brand personality”.

This month I received The Linen Press’s Autumn catalogue (below), so let’s see if anything’s changed.• At 44-pages and A5, the catalogues are the same size and pagination. However, while the spring catalogue featured a green jacket and headscarf on the cover, the autumn edition doesn’t feature product on the cover at all. It could be argued that this is a backward step, as Hadfield writes, “it’s proven that when products are showcased on the cover and are easily identified on the inside pages they inherently experience a great uplift in sales.” Instead, the autumn cover is an image of a grey cloth, with the words linen, silk, cotton, and cashmere made to look stitched in. The cover lacks a call to action—something Hadfield says is a missed opportunity.

• In her review, Hadfield criticises The Linen Press for failing to substantiate the relevance of the dog motif. She says that the use of a brand icon “would create and reflect a genuine point of difference”. Happily, this is something The Linen Press has done with its autumn catalogue. “You may be wondering ‘What has a little dog got to do with The Linen Press?’”, begins the letter from Christine (who I assume is the company’s founder). The letter goes on to reveal that the dog’s name is Betty, and she was the inspiration for the catalogue’s marque because “she is much more memorable than the other suggestions we had!”

• Another point Hadfield picks up on is that information about product sourcing should appear on page two, and The Linen Press has taken that advice. Continuing her letter, Christine lets customers know that the linen is from Ireland, and the majority of the products are manufactured in Portugal, adding “nothing is too well travelled and no child labour is involved (unless you count my nieces & nephews stuffing envelopes from time to time…)” This helps build credibility and makes a friend of the customer through the chatty and friendly tone of voice.• Seeing as the cover didn’t feature product, the next best thing would have been to include a table of contents so that customers receiving the catalogue for the first time aren’t in the dark as to what’s on offer. As with the spring edition, The Linen Press decides against a contents page. A recipient flicking through the catalogue has to wait until page 22 before encountering anything other than apparel. However, The Linen Press does mention its by-the-metre fabric on the back cover, indicating that there are more than just clothes within the pages.

• It seems that more has been made of the models in the autumn catalogue. While in the spring edition Hadfield says the “photography is disappointing—cold, in-shadow, underpropped, and largely faceless,” the autumn edition has more faces—and more smiles. I particularly like the image on page 7 of the model with the cashmere fingerless gloves (above). The product is clearly visible, and the model looks natural, relaxed and happy. The Linen Press does use some of the same images from the previous catalogue, but I can accept that due to budget and time constraints, not every product can be re-shot.

• The Linen Press’s autumn catalogue also makes more of an effort to cross-sell, something Hadfield addresses in her review. The Linen Press apparently took heed. On pages 8 and 9, for example, the models are pictured wearing tunics and coats matched with a spotty scarf. A callout on the spread points to page 12, where the scarf can be seen in all its colourways.

• The review also mentions that The Linen Press misses the opportunity to upsell by not making it obvious that the company can offer bespoke sheets. In the autumn edition, The Linen Press uses page 37 as a stopper, with bold lettering that states “We can make your tablecloth to any size”. Now that’s more like it!

It appears to me that The Linen Press has implemented some of our suggested tweaks, without comprising on the friendly personality we liked in the first place.--MT

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