A company brochure is still a powerful tool within your marketing armoury. Not every client wants to read your website or browse your social media profile. Depending on when and how you are connecting with this prospect, a company brochure can be a more convenient and engaging option for them, and for you.
At Acumen Design we have many years experience of helping clients from all different sectors plan and create company brochures that solve a marketing challenge. Every client has a different requirement, from a local company in Essex or London through to international companies in Europe and Asia. But whatever the challenge, or geography, the one constant fact is the planning stage of a brochure is key to the success of the final printed piece.
For a detailed plan of the ideal brochure design process, follow this link to our website. However in this insight I am going to discuss the planning stage as it is so key, but then look at other important things to consider when designing and creating a company brochure.
Planning, Part A – Decide what you want to achieve
This applies to any piece of marketing in reality, but some clients have approached us to help with the design of a company brochure and in the discussion they don’t have any clear strategy and it feels more of an obligation as “we feel we need one” or “our competitors have one, so we need one”.
For your brochure to be more than a book end, or fuel for the recycling plant, you need to know what your aim is. What business thinking is behind the idea? How does this company brochure fit within your overall marketing mix? Where will the brochure be used, and what is the main target audience or audiences? Does this brochure need to interact with other marketing, to be a lead generator or a lead converter for your company? Where in your client’s buying process does this brochure sit? Is the brochure about awareness of your product, service or brand, or is it to reinforce why your client should work with you?
Lots and lots of questions, but hopefully this does show that you need to think about why you are creating a brochure in the first place, and then work with your expert brochure design agency so they can solve that particular challenge. Your rationale should guide style, layout, content, printing options, digital options and the distribution.
Planning, Part B – Planning the content
Just like a website, a brochure needs to be planned before creating content. Once you know what you want to achieve you can plan out a contents list that answers that challenge. Think about main chapters if the brochure is large enough. Look at sections and titles, and do they need sub sections that go in to more detail? If you just start writing out content (or even worse jump ahead and try to start designing before you have any idea of content) you end up writing what you know, understand, feel comfortable talking about, which may not be what your target audience need to know, nor what is required to achieve your aim. You will know if your brochure plan is effective if you have made several changes, adding and deleting bits as you discover the best way to solve the challenge. Then you know it is not just what you feel happy talking about, but every word, image or graphic is persuading and influencing the end audience some how in a carefully planned structure.
Choosing the best format
Following on from planning, many brochures now are downloadable options online, even if they are printed as well. If you want your brochure to be effective online as a download there are some options to consider. If your audience does download, they may well want to print it out on their in-house copier/printer. If the PDF is created with pages as spreads it is very difficult to then print out as single pages. If the spread is printed fit to page (most common size of A4) the text will be small and hard to read. So making the PDF single pages for the online version makes printing out easier. But you want to consider this early at the design concept stage. Some content looks amazing as a spread but is not as effective in single pages. So although this feels like a decision to worry about at the end, printed or online, make it a key decision early on.
If you are printing the brochure, start to think about how many copies you need and have a rough idea of how many pages it will become. Then you can plan for either digital printing (shorter runs) or traditional litho printing (highest quality and size flexibility). It is worth having an idea of the final printed option as this can affect the best size and even the design. Digital printing has become more flexible and landscape and square brochures are all possible, not just the common A4 portrait. There are still some colours and designs that are not ideal for digital printing, but these can easily be avoided if known in advance.
Creating different size brochures can be really effective and have a lot of impact. A 300mm square brochure will definitely stand out from the norm, but while the first impression may be ‘wow’ if your intention is for the receiver to store and keep for future reference, this big bold size may be a frustrating pain to fit on the shelf or in the draw. Sometimes you have to think of practical use as well as first impressions. Does your content lend itself to a certain shape or proportion? Landscape brochures offer wide panoramic picture options for example, but can be a challenge for a more content heavy brochure especially with graphs, tables and charts.
Finally, having an idea of size and number of pages can help guide your binding options. Is the brochure going to be held together with wires (that look like staples but actually come from a real of wire) or wirobound (multiple rings) or perfect bound (thick flat spine). You need to think about this at the start to make sure the content works with that binding option. For example perfect bound books do not open flat, without breaking the spine, so the page layout has to have bigger margins on the inside. Similar challenges arise with wirobinding as you don’t want the wiro hole cutting off text.
Importance of the front cover
The front cover can grab someone’s attention or make them totally ignore the brochure. This applies to a printed brochure available in a reception shelf or as the icon for the brochure in the download section of your website. Too often the cover is an afterthought but is actually a vital part of the brochure being a success.
Imagery can certainly create impact, especially when designed with a title that works in harmony, both in terms of design and meaning. They should compliment each other, they can convey the same thing or the title one thing and the image a different angle to widen the impact.
The front cover can be a key thing in making the brochure memorable. Have you ever said or heard someone else say something like this “Yes I have a brochure somewhere from a great supplier, I remember it as it had an XYZ picture on the cover”? Saying all this, covers with text only can also be very bold and have a lot of impact, sometimes more dramatic than a picture. To make this work it would need minimal words, perhaps just one.
Using typography to enhance not hinder the message
If your company brand has guidelines, this should already cover fonts and hopefully typography styles. Don’t worry if you don’t have this guidance just use fonts that reflect your brand personality, can display the content (ie charts and tables) and enhance the words. We tell most clients that the perfect brochure is one where the words read well and have impact set in 10 point Helvetica or Times in a basic Microsoft Word file, and then the design creates an added dimension and makes that engaging. Great typography is key to this.
Another massive advantage of having all the content before designing the brochure concept is ensuring we have created the typographical hierarchy. You do not want to use too many different fonts, weights and styles but you need to be able to control headlines, body copy, perhaps italics for quotes and pull outs, sub-heads (and possibly sub, sub-heads). Every font has a character and personality and the fonts used in the brochure have to work with your brand style and the type of content.
As mentioned before, knowing if your brochure is going to be seen online as well as printed, also affects typography. You may need to consider online reading, size of fonts, font shape and colour contrast.
Hopefully this insight about how to create a company brochure has given you some direction and plan of action. Don’t worry if you feel like you have more concerns than you started with, just give us a call and we can talk through your exact requirements. But if there is one thing that is key to takeaway, that is to make sure you spend time planning the brochure.