During my speech last week at Pure London, I was talking to the audience about the importance of telling the brand story through tools in a cohesive and consistent manner. The way you communicate your brand (its DNA, values, mission, purpose) has a massive impact on what customers think about it. From your logo to the detail on your packaging and everything in between, these are your marketing and communication tools. They all must work together, sending the same message. One of the most underestimated and underused tools are lookbooks. Whether it’s a lookbook, brochure or portfolio book, you should see it as an opportunity not only for setting yourself apart from your competition but more importantly for creating an emotional connection.
As I said in my “Why brand storytelling must be part of your strategy” article, products are no longer enough for customers to connect with your brand. It’s the story which we relate and connect to. And a lookbook is a great tool to share that story and get your customers excited and inspired. Lookbooks are great for building brand awareness, encouraging word of mouth, educating and increasing sales e.g. with its digital format where you have the option for direct links to shopping pages and therefore the ability to reach new audiences, driving traffic back to your website.
So how can you create a lookbook which is also your marketing tool?
I think the best lookbooks and brochures I’ve seen are those that combine highly visual photography with highly impactful (but quite minimal) text. First, you need to decide whether you want to: inspire, educate or both. Think about the best way to put your message across. The content should flow (make sense) as you go through the pages. Your customer should feel like you talking to them (through keywords), solving their problem.
In order to do that you need to be super clear on what those keywords are and align them with your brand’s values and what you stand for as a brand. For example, in my fireplace business I identified that my customers responded well to words such as: eco-friendly, cosy, warm, safe family unit, building a home as a legacy/for next generations. So I took that as a theme and created a brochure which was a mixture of lifestyle shots featuring a family unit sitting in front of a fireplace, with images representing the eco aspect, which in our case was the wood (the fuel). I educated our customers on CO2 emissions, heating efficiency and longevity to reinforce our message and our values. I avoided spec pages at the front of the brochure and put that kind of information in the back.
The key to a well designed lookbook is to combine both the look (the visuals) and the book (the story). Here are the elements to include, generally speaking:
- The front cover – always pick the best image you have available to you. It needs to be something that grabs attention and makes you want to explore the inside. Always include your logo and icon, and the name of your campaign, if applicable. Avoid using generic terms such as – our portfolio or a/w2017. Be more specific!
- Content – make it seamless and uninterrupted. Each visual (photography) and text has to make sense. They reinforce each other. Make it easy on the eye and avoid information overload. Decide on how logically the content should flow in terms of product categories or projects. Play around with layouts and positioning.
The first inside page should briefly explain what you do and what your theme/offering is about. You might want to start off with a quote, if you feel it helps with the message.
Your last page should include your contact details, social media handles and website.
- Clickable links (digital only format) – use every opportunity to help customers with easy purchase, if they want to make one. Avoid several click chains, we want to makes things easy. Always work with “one-click” strategy.
- Inside pocket (print only format) – you can include this feature for storing pricelists, order forms and T&C. If you do wholesale, create a small white window on the last page for retailers to put their contact details stickers on there.
I understand that most marketers talk about digital marketing (as we live in the digital age) but I believe that having a small amount of physical copies will give you the opportunity to create marketing campaigns outside of the digital world. For example, you can add a copy to each order you get, allowing your customer to learn more about your product offerings and your story. Or, you can create your own database of retailers or potential clients who you can update on your latest product range or portfolio, sending them a physical copy which is professionally presented. You can also distribute the copies in physical retail spaces or events.
When it comes to marketing the digital version, you can approach it in a same way as you would do with any other content. You can write about it in your newsletters, create blog posts (don’t forget to optimise SEO) and promote it on social media directing your audience to it on your website. You can also explore the possibilities on Pinterest, creating several pins with direct page links. If you have a budget, you can also consider paid advertising and blogger outreach, asking them for a review and share what they think about it.
So to conclude, lookbooks and brochures are a great marketing and selling tool but please beware that they need to work with other marketing activities simultaneously. A successful marketing campaign is made up of several elements covering online and offline activities which need to work together. Understanding where each tool sits and what role it plays is key.
I help brands with designing their lookbooks and brochures by considering all the other elements and what your marketing goals are. As I’m always looking ahead (my motto is that one needs to stay ahead of the game in business), I think the future of this type of promotional material is heading more to “magalogues” – blending a magazine and catalogue concepts together. This is basically the next step from the traditional lookbook design. If you want to see an example of a lookbook design I did for a brand, you can find it here. Have a look at it and use it as your inspiration.
If you would like to work with me on your next lookbook, brochure or magalogue, you can learn about our Studio services here. I can be contacted via the contact form on the page there or via our private business community on Facebook.
Want to be part of a group of like-minded creatives that are going through what you’re going through? We have an amazing community of emerging designers, interior designers, stylists, fashion accessory brands, artists and photographers, where we help each other to grow. This is where I encourage sharing knowledge and brand collaborations. No fakes, self-interest liars and backstabbers are allowed. Please join us here. And, feel free to share if you found this useful!