Printed Perfection: Amazon's Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile by Kettle Fire Creative catalog design Printed Perfection: Amazon’s Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile amazon catalog fi

Amazon’s 2019 toy catalog design reminds us that print is powerful. This multi-sensory piece should make graphic designers (and children) smile.

The power of print

We were thrilled when digital giant Amazon decided to use the power of paper to increase their holiday toy sales. The online shopping mogul released its first catalog in 2018 and the second arrived in our mailbox in early November 2019. But why spend the time and money on a printed piece?

Tim Curtis, president of direct mail consultancy CohereOne, told Forbes, “Amazon will surely see positive responses from this. We know from neuroscience that this medium [direct mail] is extremely effective at building an emotional connection with customers and driving demand.” Simply put, the physical experience of paging through a catalog affects the brain in a deeper way than scrolling through a website.

Printed Perfection: Amazon's Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile by Kettle Fire Creative. 2019 Play Together catalog cover. catalog design Printed Perfection: Amazon’s Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile MG 9609

A multi-sensory moment

Moments that are emotional, multi-sensory, or social create deep brand memories and drive action. No doubt with this in mind, this year’s toy catalog includes stickers, a MadLibs-style word game, and instructions on how to turn your Amazon boxes into playful costumes.

The stickers up the interaction and bring a deeper sensory experience to the catalog design, creating a more permanent memory. Our two-year-old promply created a winter work of art with the stickers that’s currently hanging on my fridge. (Well played, Amazon.) The MadLibs and costume instructions give kids and families a chance to associate the brand with fun, delight, and creativity.

Printed Perfection: Amazon's Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile by Kettle Fire Creative. Amazon 2019 Play Together catalog spread. catalog design Printed Perfection: Amazon’s Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile MG 9611

Graphic details add cohesion

Toys come in all shapes and sizes. To unify the craziness, the catalog design features clever graphic styling. Little touches of crayon-like drawings in shades of teal are on every page. Hand-drawn bubbles rise from a Barbie tub, clouds surround a toy plane, and a push-along mower cuts through little grassy lines.

These small but effective details place the product images in context, creating an imaginary enviroment. The line texture we all recognize as crayon adds whimsy and a sense of play that’s all too appropriate for the catalog’s audience. This might be our favorite use of added graphics in a catalog design, ever.

Printed Perfection: Amazon's Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile by Kettle Fire Creative. Amazon 2019 Play Together catalog spread. catalog design Printed Perfection: Amazon’s Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile MG 9614

Smart, simple layout

The catalog design features 90+ pages of beautifully organized products. Though not revolutionary, smart design choices keep the layout from being cluttered and overwhelming. Grids are used throughout—in color for the Top Toys section and in barely-there-gray on the other pages. Grids reduce visual confusion and let the reader’s brain comprehend each product as a unit.

The color palette is established immediately with dark, restful navy grounding engergetic turquoise and orange shades. Though the toys have their own color stories, using a strong palette as part of the catalog design helps bring everything together. Finally, white space abounds. We can’t say enough about the necessity of empty space in layout, especially something as naturally content-heavy as a catalog design. Clearly the Amazon marketing team shares our point of view.

Printed Perfection: Amazon's Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile by Kettle Fire Creative. Amazon 2019 Play Together catalog spread. catalog design Printed Perfection: Amazon’s Toy Catalog Design Makes Us Smile MG 9617

Have you seen a great catalog design this holiday season? Share your favorites in the comments!

Photos of the catalog were taken by the author and posted with permission from Amazon. Kettle Fire has not received any incentive from Amazon for this review.

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