Project Description

The Store Operations team serving the Williams-Sonoma brand needed a way to communicate with store associates across the United States and Canada in a way that was effective but didn’t sound like corporate babble. After all, the brand’s retail employees were, by and large, foodies, connoisseurs, home chefs, and experts in the field, er kitchen.

The Williams-Sonoma Store Ops team tapped Farinella to find a solution. We suggested a monthly print newsletter that mirrored the culinary and lifestyle magazines read by associates and customers alike.

We worked hand-in-hand with the Store Operations team and a designer to develop the name, concept, look, and editorial voice of a full-color print newsletter that ran from four to 16 pages. The name? Connoisseur. It fit our initial assignment. That newsletter ran for more than 10 years. We managed editorial content and production throughout.

In 2012, the company wanted to refresh the newsletter name and approach. The goal was to create a publication that was vibrant, fresh, dynamic that maintained a culinary magazine feel.

After an extensive naming exercise, we landed on Pantry.

The name was born from the idea that a pantry is a place home chefs go to get ideas for their culinary adventures. Likewise, the brand’s newsletter is one of the places where associates come to get ideas to better serve their customers.

The design, done by our friend Judi Muller, is vibrant, striking, and clean. Of all the great recommendations that she brought in, one of Judi’s home runs was adjusting the size of the newsletter from conventional letter size to tabloid, making the redesign even more striking.

The final piece of the re-brand was changing the style of the content printed in the newsletter.

The clients asked for a more casual style with short, punchy, and entertaining articles. At the same time, the newsletter needed to communicate information and initiatives from the corporate office, deliver new product news, and tell inspirational stories.

The Farinella team managed the newsletter project from 2000 until the company discontinued the program in 2013.

While working on Connoisseur/Pantry, we were asked to help Williams-Sonoma develop a different newsletter to drive interest and excitement in the company’s ongoing relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. first partnered with St. Jude in 2005.

Over the years, the company has raised more than $30 million to help fight childhood cancer, during the annual Thanks and Giving Campaign.

Because the company had seen how effective a print newsletter was, they asked us to create an eight-page, four-color print newsletter that explained the company’s efforts, highlighted inspirational stories from associates, and showed how every associate could help. Every brand store, call center, distribution hub, and corporate office received a copy of the Thanks and Giving newsletter.

Farinella provided editorial counsel, design, content, and project management.

We produced the Thanks and Giving newsletter for three years.

The annual project happened quickly since Williams-Sonoma, Inc. took great care to line up all of its brands to ensure the entire company delivers a remarkable result.

To that end, we collaborated with representatives from Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, west elm, Pottery Barn Kids, and PBteen taking care to feature each brand.

We also worked with the communications team at St. Jude to make sure the words and design we delivered were consistent with the hospital’s identity.