Our last brochure design blog outlined the advantages of good brochure design, the pitfalls of a poor brochure and the seven essential steps for creating a successful brochure. In this instalment we get to the nitty-gritty, sharing the very best hints and tips for each step in the process – the key to getting the very best brochure for your money! So let’s get started…

How to write a brochure design brief

The brief you need to provide for your designer needs to identify:

  • Your services/products
  • Target market: age, position in society/company, interests, anxieties, desires…
  • The purpose of the brochure: sell, inform, entertain, brand recognition…
  • Where and how your brochure will be distributed
  • Your Unique Selling Points (USPs)
  • Your key brand messages
  • Any strap lines you want included

You will also need to give some initial thoughts about branding:

  • Provide your logo
  • Identify any fonts associated with your brand
  • State any colours associated with your brand
  • Suggest fonts and colours that you’d like to be considered in the design

Why bother with a design brief?

Without a good brief, your designer will have to spend a lot more time researching and suggesting concepts and approaches, which will eat into your overall design budget. Quite simply, there is an unlimited combination of concepts that could be created, and the better the brief supplied, the more you will get for your money! The best way to think about it is; the better your input, the better the designer’s output.

Finding brochure design inspiration

Google it! Research your competitors, see what they are using, formats they have adopted and see what could be appropriated and improved. Also take a good look at brands you admire and try to identify what it is about their design that you like, such as a colour palette or font style. To bring this all together collect images and screenshots to create mood boards. Do one each for:

  • Fonts
  • Colours
  • Layouts
  • Images

Making notes on the reason you selected each will help guide your designer, and give them a deeper understanding of what you like and why you like it. Comments like “This font is good, but isn’t as bold as I would like” or “I like these colours, do you think they will work with my current logo?” all add to an important conversation with the designer creating your brochure.

How to plan the content

This will be where you are glad you took time to compile a brief. In addition to the information you already have, find out what key messages your competitors are using to win customers, and make sure your wording stands out too. Next, decide what information needs to go where in your brochure. Some messages will be best suited to an ‘about us’ style page, whereas others will be more suited to an essential information, or FAQ style page. You may need to plan a delivery information page, or an order form. The key is to make sure the messages and the call to action suit the page they are on.

Tip: Don’t forget to address consumer anxieties. Identify what things stop people from buying your products or using your services, and make sure you address those issues in the content. It could be a simple line such as Guaranteed Next Day Delivery or Price Match Or Your Money Back that make all the difference.

Writing readable content

Our top tips for readable content are:

  • Short sentences
  • Short paragraphs
  • Easy to understand language
  • Get to the point
  • Tell the customer what they will get
  • Put the most important information first
  • Use sub headers
  • If your content needs to be jargon heavy, add a glossary
  • Don’t “we” all over your content

What do you mean don’t “we” all over my content?
Your customer doesn’t necessarily care about your company, your customer cares about what they will get, and what they will experience. Rather than say “we offer 20% discount to registered members.” say “Get 20% off when you become a member.” Leave the “we-ing” for your intro or about page.

Understanding brochure design page layout

A well-designed page can have a variety of elements. Consider how the following layout could affect the look of a page:

  • Header
  • Strapline
  • Image
  • Caption
  • Subheading
  • Product or service features and benefits
  • Technical Specifications
  • Call to action/what to do next/related products or services
  • Contact information

Remembering to include elements like this will help break up the page and organise the content. The result will be easy to scan information, with a logical flow, keeping everything in context. Here is an example of a brochure design we created that incorporates imagery and well crafted typography to provide an engaging corporate brochure design.

Ceative brochure design cover

Ceative brochure design spread

Design hierarchy

Following on nicely from the page layout ideas, let us consider design hierarchy, a process that can help with readability, and help communicate your marketing messages effectively.

You can influence the way a viewer reads a page through careful positioning of elements of a specific weight, colour, strength and size. Hierarchy in graphic design is the way we describe how these elements are positioned – an important skill that your designer will be able to apply to your brochure. This enables your brochure to still provide information in a logical manner without necessarily conforming to a set style of “start, middle and end” on a page.

Flexible grids

Tools to affect design hierarchy include column layouts, pull-out quotes, run-around text, full-width intro paragraphs and the like, commonly referred to as flexible grids. Looking back at the mood boards compiled when looking for inspiration, you may notice that you have already unconsciously identified content that utilised these methods. If not, it is time to look for inspiration again! The key is to refer to your page layout ideas, and consider how these could be presented within the multitudes of flexible grid options.

“Be warned – there is an art to choosing fonts, and a very fine art to pairing fonts together so they work!”

Choosing fonts and typestyles

Myfonts.com is a good source of paid quality fonts that can be used for print. Be warned – there is an art to choosing fonts, and a very fine art to pairing fonts together so they work! One tip is to use font super-families that offer a range of different weights. If using font super-families is outside your area of expertise, seek the honest opinion of your designer, and listen to their advice! Combining originality, readability and aesthetical appeal takes many years of experience.

Choosing images

Use high quality images, and make sure you have the correct permissions to use the image in print. Copyright law is a complicated affair, but many image libraries make the purchasing process quite simple. You will be offered a range of sizes, and each will have a price that relates to usage. An image to be used one-time on a website for example will be a lot cheaper than an image that comes with a license to be printed. The number of copies of a print run will also affect the cost. Don’t think that because an image is on Google it means it’s free to use, this is another person or company’s property so you can’t take it for your own commercial use.

You also need to make sure you use suitable images, pictures that enhance your brand message. If you are going to have staff pictures included, or product images always hire the services of a professional photographer. We work with many local photographers with different areas of expertise depending on if you are looking for people photography or product photography. Alternatively, the perfect image for your project may have already be out there waiting for you! We recommended checking out image libraries to see if there are photos that already existing that meet your requirements; shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com

How to organise content (Pagination)

The aim is to guide the reader through the brochure in a logical way. Think of your brochure as a conversation.

First you say hello and introduce yourself: welcome/intro page.
Then you explain what you do and what you are offering: separating your services or products into logical sections, explaining how your business works.
Next you answer questions that a customer might want to ask: provide information on how to order, give delivery information, terms and conditions etc.
Finally, you say goodbye and hope to see them again soon: include call to action, phone number, address, website, social media information.

In addition to these sections, you may want a contents page, an index, or tabs to make what your customer is looking for easier to find.

All that is left to do before going to print is view the brochure in a print-ready format and give it a thorough proofing!

Looking for an expert in creative brochure design? Check the °Crisp Design Portfolio, which includes brochures for products, holiday destinations, and investment opportunities, as well as performance reports and language courses provided for clients in and around Colchester and Chelmsford. If you want a brochure that suits your brand identity and meets the desires of your target market – get in touch online or call 01621 842348.