Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Catalogue we love: Graham & Green

I’ve heaped praise on Graham & Green before, a couple of years ago the furniture and gifts marketer sent me the best Valentine’s Day email of the bunch. This time, however, it’s the catalogue that’s getting the thumbs up.
Graham & Green, interiors and gifts

Why I love it
The cover is a trendy matt paper, but inside Graham & Green uses a silky paper stock. From a subjective point of view, this makes a HUGE difference. Graham & Green sells products that demand a closer look, the range is full of texture, pattern and colour and a matt paper stock would completely dilute all of that. So many catalogues make the mistake (in my opinion) of using a matt stock to show off homewares and fashion. I’ve noted several new entrants to mail order (I received one catalogue recently that used such a thick stock the paper wouldn't lie flat when turning the page) as well as established brands doing so. Little details are lost in the matt paper—just look at the image below from the Jack Wills catalogue.

Jack Wills
Another reason I love the Graham & Green catalogue is because it’s immediately obvious from the cover what’s on offer. I even like that the zebra rug is a bit wonky, it fits in well with the quirkiness of the brand. The additional bonus of 10 percent off is always an added incentive to look inside.

Now contrast this with Anthropologie’s “Introducing Autumn” mailer (below). A dark grey cover, with barely legible text. How is this representative of the brand? What would make people open this?
Although the Graham & Green layout is quite uniform—one full-page image, two or three smaller images on the opposite page, each catalogue spread looks different. That’s testament not only to the design team, but also to the buyers, who have put together a wonderfully eclectic range.

If you're looking for an idea to steal, it's the way Graham & Green presents the more “boring”, but absolutely necessary, details. On the inside back cover, it uses its signature pink colour to list opening hours, delivery charges and returns information so that everything is accessible at a glance. The result is a page that contains all the details I need, but that isn’t cluttered with terms and conditions.

Finally, the back cover works hard too. I’ve blogged before about how annoyed I get when sent on a wild goose chase to find products, so I was glad when Graham & Green avoided the issue by directing me from the front to the back cover, where all the products featured on page 1 were listed.

One suggestion I’d make is bringing more of Jamie and Louise Graham into the catalogue. In their letter on the inside front cover, Jamie writes “Louise and I work hard to uphold our reputation and family name, as patrons of the kooky, unique and eccentric”. I would really like to see what they look like, what their house is like and what their favourite products are. Perhaps the centre spread could be dedicated to a recent buying trip, or a project Louise and Jamie are working on. For a catalogue and brand that’s all about self-expression through colour and design, it would be great to find out about the personalities of its owners.--MT

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