Planning a brochureA brochure is made up of three elements: the copy, the design, and the physical specifications. All three are equally important for creating an effective brochure.
The writing style and content may also be different depending on when in the sales cycle the brochure will be used – as a direct mail piece to generate leads; as sales collateral and a leave-behind during sales calls; or in response to inquiries from leads generated by a website, trade show or exhibit.
The copy itself tells the story of the company, product or service in an unfolding narrative with a beginning, middle and end. It includes all the important selling points (like features, benefits and specifications), the unique selling proposition, and answers to frequently-asked questions. And it is told from the target audience’s point of view.
The tone of the copy can be formal or conversational but the writing must be clear with a minimum of industry jargon. When appropriate, write as if you are speaking directly to just one member of the target audience as this tends to personalize the writing and promote response.
Include a call to action – a specific instruction on what to do next and the information needed to complete the action – as part of the copy. Though commonly placed at the end of the text, a call to action can be put anywhere in the brochure and can appear more than one time. Near the call to action include full contact information – address, phone, fax, URL, social media locators, and QR code.
Before copy is finalized, make sure it is consistent with other sales and marketing materials and proof read for factual errors, typos, punctuation, grammar and syntax.
DesignDesign is what gives your brochure its visual appeal. Design elements include typography, color palette, photographs and images, white space, underlying organizational structure and the arrangement of elements on the page.
The front cover of the brochure is the most important design element. It is the first thing that the target audience will see and it determines whether the prospect will continue reading. The cover needs an eye-catching photograph, headline, or combination, not the company logo and contact information. Save that for the back panel.
Be aware that the reader will look first at photographs and images, then headlines, charts and graphs, captions and finally the body copy. Use pull quotes, shaded boxes, and drop capitals for emphasis and to guide the reader’s comprehension. Make features into a bulleted list. The reader should be able to pick up the majority of the content by scanning the photographs and skimming the headlines and captions.
How a brochure is folded affects the order in which readers will see the information unfold, so compartmentalize the presentation. Be sure each panel stands alone but also is connected visually to the rest of the brochure.
Physical specificationsFor the most economical price, design the brochure so it can be printed on standard size paper – 8.5 x 11 or 11x17 inches – and use a standard fold:
- Trifold: commonly used for brochures, a trifold uses two parallel folds to create six panels. Seen from the side, it forms a letter C. Also known as a letter fold or C fold.
- Z fold: two parallel folds that go in opposite directions creating six panels. Seen from the side, it forms a Z shape. Also known as an accordian fold.
- Bifold: a single fold creating four panels. Also known as a half fold.
- Double parallel fold: made by folding a page in half, then folding each folded page in half again, in the same direction.
- Barrel fold: two or more parallel folds that fold in on each from either left or right. Seen from above, the folds spiral inward. Also known as a roll fold or spiral fold.