10 brochure design tips to boost your advertising

Brochure printing is a great way to advertise your business. Remember that the most effective marketing is simple, affordable and reliable, and brochures are exactly that. Solid brochure design will be beautiful, memorable and thought-provoking. The beauty of it is that you can reach out and touch it. It appeals to us on a physical level. This helps create a lasting connection with the consumer, making brochures an effective way to promote your business.

Combining solid craftsmanship, clever design and compelling storytelling, effective brochure designs will engage and inspire people. Whether you hire a graphic designer or do it yourself, design is key to ensuring a solid return on investment.

In this guide, we take you through 10 brochure design tips to help you create the perfect brochure to boost your business.

10 brochure design tips to help you create the perfect brochure

1. The function over the form

Your brochure should be functional, easy to read and clear

While your brochure needs to be eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing and memorable, we’ll talk more about design later. First and foremost, your brochure must be functional. You’re not Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel; you’re a business trying to sell a product.

You need to make sure your marketing is concise, readable and clear. Make sure the brochure looks professional and meets the basic requirements. It should have the correct print resolution and should show an awareness of current print marketing trends. Otherwise, it can make your company look amateurish.

Make sure the information in your brochure is easy to read and presented without visual clutter.

Even a brochure that is creative and unique must meet these basic criteria. Remember that effective marketing is about effective communication. A brochure reader has a short time and a short attention span. Be concise and to the point.

Make essential information (e.g. contact details) easily accessible; try using an eye-catching colour, or increasing the font size on a large scale. Try to adopt a conversational tone that will draw people in and keep them reading.

If you’re selling a particular product, show a picture of it. It may seem simple, but people buy with their eyes. Give the reader something visual and your brochure will convert to sales much more effectively.

2. Know your audience

Understanding who your target audience is will make it much easier to find the right brochure design

As with any type of effective marketing, you need to know who you want to reach with your brochure:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are their likes and dislikes, interests and tastes?
  • How do they talk?
  • What do they relate to?
  • And what will capture their attention?

First do your market research, then build the ideal brochure with your target reader in mind.

When deciding on the tone of your copy, consider the type of person you expect to read it.

If you are trying to access a new market, the brochure should be catchy and enticing, not overly pushy. If you are consolidating an existing customer base, try to achieve a tone that suggests a sense of friendship, trust and personal connection. Always use direct pronouns such as “you” and “your”, rather than generalised words such as “we” or “our”; this will make your brochure speak directly to the reader and grab their attention, letting them know that they come first.

If you are able to reach your target audience, your brochures will be 100% more effective.

3. Use space optimally

Brochures are small, but that doesn’t mean you should try to put as much information as possible in them.

One of the defining characteristics of brochures is that they are small. Most brochures are limited to a standard page size of A6 or A5, so you will always find yourself with very limited print space.

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With this in mind, you’re going to have to think creatively about how to present your design, to convey your key information.

Like poster design, brochures need to use space carefully.

A great technique for creating more space is gridding, i.e. dividing the page into a grid with each square containing a different piece of text, an image or a logo. In a Word document, or even a more formal brochure, you would normally arrange the text content in a single column on the page. However, with a brochure you should try to be more experimental with your use of space. Think grid. That said, dividing your brochure into perfect squares may seem too rigid and functional.

Try using irregularly sized sections to make your content really stand out on the page. You could have a large square of text, next to an image, with a small square of text underneath. Or, if you want to shake things up, why not try experimenting with diagonal layouts?

There’s really no end to the possibilities for your design, you just need to make sure you use the space effectively. Don’t let your brochure look cluttered or cluttered.

The ideal design includes a lot of content, but still looks minimal, clean and balanced.

4. Grab attention

An eye-catching visual image can really grab the attention of your potential customers.

One of the most important tips for brochure design is to craft one that grabs people’s attention and creates a strong visual impact. The more eye-catching your brochure is, the more likely it is that a person will pick it up or keep it. Whether you go for subtlety or boldness, you’ll want to avoid the curse of boring at all costs.

Discreet, professional designs can be completely transformed from banal to brilliant with a skilful attention to colour. Use your company colours to reinforce your brand, and be sure to use a balanced palette.

If you’re advertising an event, or a product that attracts more attention, such as a night out, an exhibition or a festival, you can’t afford not to be eye-catching. You must imbue your brochure with the spirit of the product itself.

Receiving your brochure should be an experience, transporting the reader to the event you are offering and allowing them to imagine what the experience would be like.

The most eye-catching brochures use colour effectively; a palette of bold, complementary shades will make your content jump off the page. Try to balance a trio of eye-catching elements:

  • A striking visual image
  • An attention-grabbing headline (in a readable but bold font)
  • A colour element (such as a logo)

By sticking to this three-element rule, you will avoid clutter and ensure that your brochure is easy on the eye.

Most importantly, make sure your brochure design is fun and upbeat. It should not look too serious, even if it is corporate. Your main aim is to make a brochure that people will keep. They are much more likely to do so if the design makes them feel good.

5. Be cool

If you use a minimalist design, your brochure will look more professional.

Bringing attention doesn’t mean being loud, pushy or needy. A brochure can be eye-catching and attractive even if it is unobtrusive. Sometimes a more subtle brochure design can be a good fit, especially if you’re targeting a more demure, savvy or corporate consumer.

Aim for an aesthetic that is minimal, serene and calm. Remember that less is more, and that sometimes it’s effective to play hard to get.

If you’re advertising a corporate service or product with a sophisticated image, your brochure should reflect that.

An effective marketing strategy can be one that says “We’ve got this great thing, you’ve got to come to us to get it”. Now imagine that message in brochure form; a flat, unobtrusive design style will appeal to your target consumer with very little effort. Try to keep it simple.

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Use a palette of black, white and grey, and limit yourself to a careful use of colour; a splash of bold colour is enough. Blues, mint greens, silvers, mustards and lilacs are innately attractive and cleverly corporate. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard to impress, so remember, be cool.

6. Be nice

Add a photo of your employees smiling can make your brochure look friendlier

Being discreet should not be confused with being aloof. You want your brochure to make your company appear charming, friendly and approachable, and there are a number of ways to achieve this.

Firstly, use an informal, conversational tone in the text.

Secondly, choose images that make a good impression. Don’t underestimate the power of a smiling human face when it comes to putting people at ease. Imagine a college prospectus, a corporate brochure or a shampoo advert; they’re full of smiling people. Especially if you’re marketing a service, it’s super important to present the viewer with a friendly face.

Imagine how you would greet a customer in your office, and then put that face on your brochure. When they interact with your company later on, they’ll keep the image of that smile in their mind, which will put them at ease.

A word of caution is to avoid using stock images in brochures (unless you are forced to due to budget constraints). Many stock photos of “smiling business people” actually look soulless, stilted and overly staged. Hiring a professional photographer can be expensive, but it’s worth it to ensure authenticity.

Also, once you have an image that is truly yours, you can use it across all your marketing channels, on websites and social media, to create a lasting brand image.

7. Font in brochure design

Your typeface needs to match your brand. To build trust, try using more serious fonts

One of the most often overlooked brochure design tips is to choose your typeface carefully. Different typefaces have their own personality, and you need to match the tone of your font to your brand image.

For example, if you want to look professional, don’t use Comic Sans. That typeface is good for children’s entertainers, crayons and comics, but not so good for corporate events, products or services. If you’re wondering what typeface to use, check out our blog post on lettering types for posters.

It is usually safe to use a sophisticated font, such as Helvetica or Times New Roman. But make sure you find a font that is aesthetically pleasing, legible and clean. It doesn’t have to be unusual.

As a general rule, we recommend that you limit the use of different fonts in your brochure design. Two font families is the maximum; one is usually enough. If you add too many different fonts, your design will start to look cluttered and confusing, losing its visual coherence. In this sense, less is more. If you’re looking for visual variety in your design, switch between bold, italic and regular versions of the same font. It’s a great way to add emphasis and heterogeneity, without sacrificing coherence.

8. Use colour to set the mood

Sometimes, less is more. Stand out by using a single bold colour.

As we’ve mentioned, colour plays a key role in making your brochure look bolder and more appealing, but… Did you know it can also affect mood?

Colour, possibly more than the choice of typeface or images, is the most important feature in creating the mood and personality of brochure design.

In fact, the psychology of colour is crucial in enticing someone to pick up or retain your brochure, so the choice of colour can make or break a good design.

The colour experts, Pantone, have published their colour trends, which is a great guide when setting your palette. According to Pantone executive Leatrice Eiseman, if you want to look “witty”, it’s best to go for blues and oranges; it’s a colour combination that “combines warm and cool tones that you can’t help but stare at”. Yellow is “playful”, pink is “understated” and gold is “sophisticated”. If you’re hoping to reach a diverse audience, opt for pink tones; “this palette reaches out and embraces many different cultures”.

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Choosing the wrong colour scheme can turn consumers away, but the right palette will help your brochure convert to sales.

If you’re looking for a classic, tried and tested colour scheme, use pastels; they are a natural application of our lifestyles and thought processes. Choose your colour carefully, and you’ll be in control of your mood.

9. Connect with digital

Use QR codes, coupons or tools like GizThis to connect your brochures with the digital world

Print should not be seen as the enemy of digital marketing. In fact, quite the opposite: it is a strategy to increase sales through digital engagement.

The most effective marketing campaigns are those where your print and digital media are carefully coordinated, so that they reinforce each other and develop a consistent brand image.

Printed brochures are a great way to attract your audience online and engage them with your digital content.

When designing your brochure, remember to include links to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instragram, to promote your social media presence.

If you want to be really tech-savvy, take this a step further by using a tool like GizThis for iOS or Android, or digital coupons. This way, your brochure can link to all kinds of unique content: personalised videos, free downloads, free WiFi, online discounts, coupon codes, games, maps, surveys and websites. Imagine the experience your consumer will have: one minute they’re holding a simple tactile brochure in their hands, the next they’re exploring a virtual world of endless possibilities.

Use a personalised QR code that takes them directly to your website where they can learn more and read more about your company, your offers…

Connecting your brochure with your digital content is an essential part of your design.

10. Call to action (CTA Call to action)

Add a call to action to convert readers into customers

Perhaps one of the most basic but essential tips for brochure design is to remember that you’re not handing out brochures for no reason. You’re handing them out because you want something in return. To get something from your customers, you need a “call to action”.

This can be a command, an imperative or a directive that influences the reader not only to take on board the information, but to act on it. Remember that a brochure means nothing if it doesn’t inspire your audience to act.

Questions, temptations and suggestions are ways of subtly asking someone to engage.

CTA for lead capture

A classic call to action is the phrase “order now”, or “log in to view”. You should try to direct your customer towards a very specific action, and encourage them to act immediately. This is why incentives and discounts are often useful to entice people to participate.

Think about using more question marks and be creative with taglines and phrases. Be bold, but keep it innocuous. People don’t like to be told what to do, so you have to make them want to act.

Above all, the brochure design must be so tempting that they feel they can’t afford not to do it.

Conclusion on brochure design

A well-designed brochure is a really effective way to promote your business.

By following our brochure design tips and combining well-crafted brochures with efficient street teams, on-the-ground marketing campaigns and a carefully coordinated digital presence, you could reach entirely new audiences, as well as consolidating existing ones.

Remember that, first and foremost, brochure design should prioritise functionality. If it reads clearly, and the content is included, then you’re off to a good start.

After that, design is everything: choose colours carefully, balance the layout and keep it minimal. The most successful brochures are the most attractive.

The longer the viewer holds it in their hand, the more lasting and meaningful the impression will be. If you create beautiful designs and use the brochures as part of a thoughtful marketing campaign, the possibilities for promotion are endless.

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