The Magic of the Magalog: A Marketing Lesson From Brooks Brothers



Brooks Brothers, the 197-year-old clothing company that’s synonymous with the power suit and preppy dressing, has recently embraced a thoroughly modern marketing tool—the magalog.

Part catalog, part magazine, the magalog (which can be an actual paper product or solely online) has been growing in popularity recently among fashion and jewelry brands.

Why? Brands are replacing their traditional marketing initiatives with custom content that feels and acts like a magazine or a blog (watch for a feature story in the October issue of JCK that covers how to go about creating magazine-style content for your brand). 

All photos courtesy Brooks Brothers

Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks and husband actor Geoffrey Arend on the cover of Brooks Brothers’ latest magalog

Some of the world’s most popular luxury brands—including Tiffany & Co. and Net-a-Porter—create their own custom magalogs, which typically highlight product in ways a magazine editor might: in fashion pictorials, fun must-have lists, and (if it’s in their brand DNA and budget) with celebrities.

Brooks Brothers may soon be enjoying a renaissance among style-loving consumers. The company appointed Zac Posen as its womenswear designer last year, and the Project Runway star showed a winning first collection for the brand earlier this month. 

As part of the new-and-improved Brooks, the company has created a slick magalog, available both in store and as a a flip-able online magazine, that packs in celebrity, beautiful product, and a lengthy introduction to the brand, which certainly has some stories to tell. 

The full third issue is here. And here are a few of the elements that make it a model magalog:

Beautiful Original Photography

The magalog is full of clear and colorful imagery that’s all shot in a similar style and represents the colors and textiles used in the products in a true way. If there’s one thing you need to budget for in a magalog, it’s the photography. Brooks Brothers has deep pockets, so hiring an amazing photographer was surely a given. But if you’re not in a major market with lots of great shooters, consider outsourcing the work to someone with an amazing eye, great references, and a friendly demeanor. 

Real Content

The magalog reads like a real magazine or blog—even when the copy is focused on the company’s product. And it’s important to maintain that chatty, non-pushy vibe throughout your magalog. When you (or the person writing your copy) veers into ad sales-speak, reel it back in and start again. 

Orange Is the New Black actor Matt McGorry 

Celebrity Appeal

You may not be able to get Christina Hendricks for the cover of your magalog, but you can borrow the idea of featuring someone of note in your big advertorial. Who’s the star football player, golfer, or mayor in your neck of the woods? If they look great in your jewelry, it may be worth a call to their publicist. 

A Personal Touch

Being a nearly 200-year-old brand gives Brooks Brothers an edge when it comes to marketing its heritage. But the elegant timeline spread featured in its magalog could be much shorter—and still work beautifully—for businesses with 15-plus years of service under their belts. Letting your clients know who you are helps draw them in. Find a clever (very visual) way to share your store’s story.

 

A model in Brooks Brothers’ women’s collection 

On-Brand Glamour

Investing in a photo pictorial with real models and hair/makeup/photo pros is a pricey proposition—and unless you’re going to hire top-of-the-line models and creatives, we recommend you skip it. But nothing lends editorial flair to a magalog quite like an original photo spread. It also showcases your product in it best-possible light: on attractive people frolicking in the wide world. Could you ask for a better advertisement?

 

JCK Magazine Editor