Brochure design – how to get started

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Brochure

I’d like you to design my brochure – what do you need from me?

Having a brochure professionally designed will obviously reduce your amount of work.  However there are still lots of things you will need to consider and do before a designer can start working on the project. Here is an easy to follow checklist.

The aim of your brochure

The purpose of your brochure will determine and affect a lot of the aspects relating to the design and finish. It is therefore important to take time to think about what you would like your brochure to achieve. Will it be to showcase a specific service you offer, or would you like it to illustrate all aspects of your business or organisation? Is your main aim to instil confidence in your business or specifically sell a product?

You should also think about where your brochure will be used and how you plan on distributing it. For example, will it be handed out at a promotional event or emailed onto potential clients after an enquiry? If you are looking to use it at an event, then a large, heavy brochure might not be as suitable as something smaller with fewer pages. If your main means of contact with customers is via email and online then you might decide there is no point in having your brochure printed.

Tell your designer the reason why you are having a brochure and how it will be used.

Your logo

Before starting on the design of a brochure you should have a logo and branding set in place. Your brochure designer would ideally need your logo as a vector file such as .eps or .ai. These formats should be the source files and if so, will allow the designer to scale your logo without distortion. They will also allow greater flexibility in the design process, as they can take aspects of your logo and weave it into a design more easily. These formats will also provide the designer with a transparent version which can be very helpful when incorporating a logo within a design. If you don’t have a vector file, then a high resolution JPEG or PDF file might be suitable. Contact your designer to ask and if in doubt, send them the files you have and they can let you know their suitability.

We would always advise that you have a vector version of your logo. If you don’t have the right file format, then ask your designer if they could re-draw your logo to create a vector file and if so how much this would cost. The initial cost of having it re-drawn will be worth it, as you can then use this file for any future design work including vehicle livery and/or large format printing for exhibitions etc.

Send your designer the source file of your logo, which should be in vector format (.ai or .eps) or a high resolution JPEG.

Your branding

It’s important, before starting on any marketing, that you know your brand. Your brand in short, is who your business is, what your business is about and what you believe in. This is then reflected in the look and presentation of your business, otherwise known as your brand identity. Therefore before starting a brochure project you should already have some core design elements in place. Your logo will be the cornerstone of your brand identity but you also need to think about colours, fonts and writing style. Some businesses will have brand guidelines which can be very useful in ensuring consistency throughout your marketing materials.

Your logo will obviously play a big part in determining your brand colours. Presuming you have had your logo professionally designed, ask your designer for the CMYK colour codes which you can use for printed material. If you are having a website designed, you will also need to know the RGB or web colour codes to ensure they match your printed marketing. If you want an exact colour match then you might want to consider using pantone colours but this will have cost implications for print. Discuss these options with your designer and they should be able to advise you.

Your logo will also come in to play when choosing which fonts to use. Whilst you don’t have to just use one font, it’s advisable to not use too many. We would advise no more than two to three fonts. Discuss with your designer the fonts available, as they will be able to suggest fonts which will work well together. You might also want to ensure you select a font family which contains different weights as well as an italic version. This will give your designer some flexibility whist keeping things consistent.

Who your business is and how you want the public to see you will affect the writing style you select. For example if you are a solicitors, then you are likely to want to write and present in a formal way. If you are a Jewellery business marketing to teenagers, then you would probably want to have a more informal and fun style. This will affect your use of language and also your font selection.

If you have colour codes for your brand, send these to your designer. Discuss with them the style of the text and font options.

Brochure size

If you are having your brochure printed or want the recipient to be able to print your brochure out, then the size is an important factor. The main two sizes are A4 (210x297mm) and A5 (148x210mm). Choosing a standard sized brochure will keep your printing costs down. If you would like your brochure to stand out and look bespoke, then choosing a less standard size such as a square format can be a good option. You will also need to decide if you would like your brochure to be portrait or landscape. Your content may impact this decision, as well as your brand and aim. Landscape brochures can give the impression of luxury but are not always as practical as portrait when storing. If you are having an online PDF brochure, then size becomes less of a factor in relation to the cost.

Discuss the brochure size options with your designer and find out about cost implications for design and print. Also, if you have a preference, let them know what size and layout you would like.

Brochure finished format

Online brochures are becoming more and more popular, however in many cases, having a printed copy is essential. When you are thinking about which format to have, you will need to consider the aim of your brochure and how you are planning on distributing it. In many cases having both a printed version and an online PDF you can send via email or upload to your website is the best option. This will obviously give you greater flexibility.

When it comes to having your brochure printed, you will need to think about the paper weight and finish. Collecting some examples of other brochures you like can help you decide on the finish you want. Some brochures will have the same paper weight throughout the brochure whilst others will have a heavier outer cover. You will have the choice of different finishes such as matt, gloss or even a spot UV for that extra wow factor. Always remember there will be cost implications to finishes and paper weights, so discuss the options with your designer and/or printer.

Having just an online PDF will keep your costs down. When it comes to the design, your designer will be able to advise you on suitable file sizes for online use. They will also be able reduce the file size when saving to ensure your brochure can easily be emailed and downloaded. You might also want to discuss with your designer how the brochure will set out for online viewing. For example, would you like single pages or double page spreads?

Let your designer know if you just want an online PDF brochure or if you are planning on having the brochure printed.

How many pages should your brochure have?

Once you have decided upon the size of your brochure you can start to think about how many pages it should be. The number of pages your brochure has is usually determined by how much content you have as well as your budget. Although it is important to start thinking about the number of pages at this point, we would recommend not making a final decision until you have gathered all of your content for the brochure. It is always advisable to think about your budget and gather quotes to find out how flexible you can be around the number of your pages.

The style and image you want to portray, will also come in to play when deciding about the number of pages. For example, would you like there to be plenty of white space with large images taking up whole pages or were you looking to have a more busy and informative feel to the design? Again, we would recommend discussing this with your designer to find out what will work best for you and your business or organisation.

Think about how many pages you would like your brochure to have and try to be as flexible as possible through the whole planning and design process. Also, don’t forget the cost implications for design and print.

Writing the text for your brochure

This part of the process is often the least favourable but also one of the most important! Having well written content can have a huge impact on the success of a brochure. If you decide to hire a professional copywriter, you will still need to complete some planning and preparation before they can begin the writing process. Remember you will know your business, products and/or services better than anyone else, this means you are invaluable when it comes to compiling the content.

Spending time researching copywriters and looking into their writing style will help you decide which professional to choose. Also make sure you ask for prices to ensure hiring a copywriter falls within your budget. If you decide to write your content yourself, make sure you start off with a plan so you know what you want to include. The content should flow easily and be engaging to the reader. Think about what style of writing you want (formal or informal) and consider having clear headings to break up the text.

As well as the main core of the content you might also want to consider having extra snippets such as quotes and/or highlights which could be displayed in a larger font to draw the reader’s eye. These smaller sections of text can help break up text and attract attention to a key point you want to make.

Always thoroughly proof read your text before sending it onto your designer. Some designers will charge for text edits and it is important you are happy with the content before the brochure design starts. If necessary ask one or two other people to proof read the content for you.

Spend time on the writing process and planning and consider hiring a professional if needed.

How to send the text to your designer

Your designer will want the text to be easy to follow and clearly set out. We would advise writing your text within a sinlge Word document. If you have an idea of what text you would like on each page, make sure you clearly label this so it is easy for your designer to follow.

If you are not sure about how much text can go onto each page, we would advise setting your text out on the same size page within a Word document. Play around with the font size and print out variations so you can decide what size font you would like your main text to be. Once you have decided this you can begin to see how your content is filling the page. Remember that you might also have images to include. If you already have the images to hand, adding these into the Word document can help with this process. This can also be very helpful to the designer as they will be able to quickly see which images go with which text.

If you have any specifications when compiling your content, such as some text needing to be highlighted, make sure to add your comments within the Word document. Put these comments in a different colour, so they stand out and don’t get overlooked.

Researching other brochures can also help give you an idea about text density.

Send one Word document to your designer containing all of the text for the brochure. Make sure you clearly label any page layout specifications or preferences you have. Also include any image notes within this document to help the designer collect the content before starting the design.

Photos within a brochure design

Having professional photographs can really make a brochure. Consider hiring a professional photographer if you need specific shots or images such as products or lifestyle photos. You can also look into using stock photos. Your designer should have access to photo libraries and be able to offer you advice as to what will work best.

If you already have photos that you would like to include, ask your designer to have a look to check their suitability and resolution. They might be able to offer some photo editing to improve quality such as removing backgrounds and cropping. All photos should be at least 300dpi for print.

If you send your designer photos, make sure they are either clearly named or your text states which photos are to go where. If photos are too large to email you can use a service such as Wetransfer.com to send your designer the images.

Hire a photographer or use professional stock photos if needed. If you are sending images to your designer, ensure they are at least 300dpi for print and clearly labelled.

 


 

 The time spent considering and planning your brochure will have a massive impact on the success of the final design, so it is really important not to overlook these pre-design stages. Sending well planned and organised content to your designer should enable you to sit back and relax (or focus on your next project) while they complete the next stage.

About us and this blog

am:pm graphics is a graphic design partnership based in Buxton, Derbyshire. We offer a range of quality, affordable graphic design solutions for print and web, helping our customers achieve a consistent professional identity across a variety of media.

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