Brochures. They’re the ultimate snooze topic, right?
While your initial thoughts about brochures may involve oceans of text, hardcore drop shadows, and a criminal amount of clip art, brochures don’t have to mean boring time warps to the 90’s.
In fact, they shouldn’t, if you want your brochure to do its job. Here’s a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you create brochures that are current, clean, refined, and most importantly — effective.
Brochure Design: The “Must-Haves”
1. Know your purpose.
There are different kinds of brochures for specific scenarios. For instance:
- Leave behinds. These brochures “leave behind” key information after an event, like a trade show or sales meeting.
- Point of sale. These provide further information about your product or service, such as tips for getting the most out of it.
- Direct mail. A direct mail brochure arrives in your prospect’s (or customer’s) mailbox, and serves a specific role in their journey — inform them of a new product, for example, or invite them to an event.
- Sales support. These brochures share key information and FAQs that prospects may have in a sales scenario.
Your brochure design will vary depending on how you’ll use it, so plan accordingly.
2. Make the cover count
Since the cover of your company brochure is the first thing people see, it will determine whether or not they bother cracking it open. Your brochure cover should be powerful, captivating and pristine.
What colors, images, and graphics will pique your audience’s interest? Use actionable language in the copy, and keep it concise whenever possible. You’ll have plenty of time inside the brochure to explain — the cover should only be a hook.
3. Use white space like it’s going out of style
We’re not sure why, but many people tend to want to cram as much as possible into brochures. Take it from our design experts: this is the fastest path to snoozeville! If your brochure appears too busy, the eye will have no path to follow, which means the eye will wander right off the page.
Give your readers only the facts, or the feelings, they’ll need to take the next step. And, speaking of the next step…
4. Have a clear call to action
Make sure your reader knows exactly what they need to do after reading your brochure. This is your “call to action,” (CTA) and it should be visible and concise. It shouldn’t require too much work for your customer, either. Your CTA could be to make a phone call, redeem a coupon code, visit a URL, ask their doctor for more information, or make a purchase, for example.
In order for your CTA to work, it’s essential to know where your reader will be in their customer journey. A highly qualified prospect who has already met with your sales team may be motivated to make a phone call, but a brand new lead isn’t anywhere near as committed to your business (yet). Cold leads are more likely to respond to irresistable or low-risk CTAs like “visit this website” or “get 50% your first purchase”.
5. Use creative typography
While Times New Roman is more classic than an Audrey Hepburn movie, a little Marilyn Monroe never hurt anybody. Use creative typography that represents your business and that grabs the eye.
But remember: everything in moderation. Overdoing scripts and unusual fonts can come across as inexperienced or unprofessional. Keep in mind the basic rules: scale matters, unify with color or style, contrast is good, and keep it legible.
6. Break conventional perspectives
There’s no rule anywhere that says your information must be segmented by each brochure panel. Break perspective and traditional brochure expectations to surprise and delight customers. In the example here, a die cut on the outer panel of this brochure provides a “window” into the content inside — beckoning the reader to read on.
7. Think outside the standard tri-fold.
Most brochures have three panels, but why not switch it up? Try an iron-cross fold (paper shaped like a cross where each panel folds into the center to make a square) or an open- or closed-gate fold (where a long rectangle folds into the center to create a “gate”). You can even add more than three panels by using an accordion fold, which bends back and forth into a small, info-packed booklet.
For inspiration, check out our post on unique brochure designs.
7. Use custom features
One of the best ways to make your company stand out and grab attention is through custom features. Whether you use soft touch paper, hot foil stamping, die cuts, or custom folds, your brochure will stand out from the sea of competitors whose idea of a corporate brochure only includes bullet points.
You can also apply metallic inks, shiny UV coating, die cutting, foil stamping and embossing to add a polished touch that grabs the attention of customers. With custom brochure printing, the choices are endless and limited only by your imagination.
Brochure Design: The Faux Pas
1. Text overload.
Too many brochures suffer from text overload. To avoid it, stick to the age-old adage of show, don’t tell. Throwing paragraphs of text across your brochure panels without any visual aid is the quickest way to lose your reader. In the same vein…
2. Stock photos for days.
With the ease of access to stock photos like the one above on sites like Shutterstock and Pixabay, designers can find just about any image they need for free (or for a small fee) these days. However, this benefit is also a drawback, because it means everyone is reusing the same stock photos. After being recycled enough times, these generic images lose what little impact they had in the first place.
Plus, if your competitors are using original photography, stock images can dull your edge on the competition and come across as kitsch.
3. All features, no benefits.
People are only interested in what applies to them. Most people, and most marketers, know this — so why are so many marketing messages still suffering from feature-itis?
Here’s the scoop, if you need to brush up on the difference: features explain what your product or service is. Here are examples of features:
- Your store hours: “Open 9:00am-7:00pm.”
- Details about your product: “Earbuds that fasten onto the outside of your ear.”
- A description of a new service you’ve added: “Prenatal yoga on Thursdays.”
These are important details, but these aren’t the reasons people buy things. People buy for the benefits they’re going to get — the problems that you solve for them. Revisiting those features above, here’s how you would rework them into benefits:
- “Busy schedule? Now, we’re open late.”
- “Earbuds that don’t fall off when you’re jogging.”
- “Exercise that’s safe for you and baby, all the way through the third trimester.”
Spend some time really exploring the ultimate reason people do business with you (Simon Sinek calls it the “why”).
4. Trying to say it all
In a similar vein to the previous point, you might assume that your prospects care as much about your company as you do — but this is hardly ever the case. Too much information in one brochure can weaken your message and potentially even keep your reader from accomplishing your call-to-action.
Try this. Write your copy as if you have to pay for every word. What would be better left to a landing page, or told in-person or on a sales call? Replace combinations of adjectives and nouns with stronger nouns. Replace adverb/verb combos with stronger verbs. It’s a good rule of word usage in all copywriting: never use two where one will do.
Custom coating effects, die cuts, embossing, Pantone colors — one thing leads to another, and suddenly you’re spending twice your marketing budget on your brochures. If you’re budget-conscious, opt for less expensive effects like unusual folds or unique cuts that aren’t technically classified as die cuts. You’ll still pique your readers’ interest without having to break the bank.
Brochures are one of the best ways to share essential information about your business and turn strangers into customers. We want to make sure you get everything you need to make both your brochure (and your marketing campaign) a success — so contact PFL with your brochure-related woes and we’ll help you out.
Hey, looks like you’re going to be printing brochures soon. PrintingForLess.com provides the highest quality online printing, for reasonable prices and backed by expert teams of print professionals. Get a quote for your brochure project.
Need help with your print? Talk to a live print expert today: 800-930-7978.