How to design a brochure

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Front, back and inside pages of a brochure designed by am:pm graphics

Plan & research before you start your brochure

The first stage of designing a brochure is to plan & research! This first step is so important to the success of the final outcome. You wouldn’t start to bake a cake, before deciding what kind of cake you want to make, who’s going to eat the cake and without having a recipe to follow!

Why do I need a brochure?

Working out the reason you are designing a brochure, will help steer the project in the right direction from the start. Do you want the brochure to work alongside other promotional material or will the brochure be a stand-alone promotional tool? Think about what the brochure will contain for example, are you wanting the brochure to showcase just a select number of products or services you offer, or will the brochure act more as a general promotional tool for the business and therefore be more brand based?

How will I use my brochure?

Also think about how you plan on using the final brochure as this will affect many aspects of the design process, such as the number of pages and the final format etc. For example if you plan on posting the brochure to potential customers then you will need to consider what size brochure to go for as this will obviously affect the postage cost as well as the overall impact once delivered. If you are looking to email potential customers, then you need to make sure the final brochure file will not be too big and clog up people’s email inbox!

What’s my budget?

This is an obvious thing to look at before you start. Decide what you want to spend and if you are outsourcing any of the design, copywriting, photography or printing make sure to get plenty of quotes! The cheapest is not necessarily the best or the worst, just as the most expensive does not necessarily mean you’ll be getting a better brochure. Find out if revisions will cost extra and always check if VAT is included or not, as this can make a big difference to the final price!

Good communication is so important! Remember price is not the only thing to consider, good customer service is essential and hiring someone you can communicate with is so important when writing, designing and creating a brochure. Therefore gather quotes alongside other information and examples of previous work and make an informed decision.

Don’t forget your print quotes! You will discover that there are many options when it comes to the print of your brochure such as paper weight, finish, size and quantity. Collecting a selection of quotes for all of the different options will help ensure you don’t go over budget. You might like the idea of a 64 page brochure but in reality your budget might only stretch to having 8 pages! Size is not everything but quality of design and a professional print is key in creating the right impression.

Who am I creating a brochure for?

Know your market! This includes not only the people you’ll be selling to but also your competitors. Think about what’s going to appeal as well as what’s going to stand out if your brochure sits alongside your competitor’s brochure! Don’t be tempted to copy your competitor’s brochure even if you love it. Ask others what they think, what they like and what works for them. Be different yet relevant, fresh but familiar.

Know your business and your brand! It’s important that you follow any brand guidelines to ensure your brochure will remain consistent with your other marketing tools. You will also need to grasp what your business or organisation stands for and the ethos behind the brand. A good brochure design will reflect the right message and sit comfortably with a website or pop-up banner.

Once all of the planning and research has been completed it’s time to start the actual process of creating the brochure.

The process of creating a brochure

At this stage you should know who’s going to be involved in the creation of your brochure. Quotes should have been collected from copywriters, designers and printers.

Writing the content for your brochure

Decide on your key message keeping in mind the purpose of the brochure, the reader and the brand. Take a customer centred approach. Focus your content on the customer benefits, rather than product features – how you can help them and how your product or service can make their life better. E.g. Product focused copy might highlight washing machine spin speed, customer focused copy might highlight quick drying times. Having copy written by an expert can ensure that the text is engaging, easy to follow and interesting to read. If you are compiling your own text for your brochure, it’s essential to check and re-check the copy for mistakes. If you can, ask someone who is not involved with the brochure project to read your copy. A “fresh pair of eyes” might spot a mistake or omission, and could highlight any assumptions being made about previous knowledge of the reader.

Plan the layout of your content

Once the copy has been finalised you need to move onto the page plan. This part will help greatly when it comes to the design of your brochure. It’s a good idea to set out your text within a word document, spread over the correct number of pages. Don’t forget there will be a front and back page. You might also want to include a contents or index page. Think about the density of the text and what images you plan on including. Would you like a spacious brochure with large images or do you not have that option? If you have a lot of text to fit in over fewer pages then careful consideration needs to be made about font sizes and text layout. If your brochure needs to say a lot, that’s fine, as long as you don’t over face the reader and they’re kept engaged. You might decide at this stage that you need to adjust the number of pages to suit your content. This will impact any design and print costs, so you might wish to get more quotes in.

Once complete, print out the text and check you are happy with the layout and flow. Again, asking someone else’s opinion can be helpful at this stage. Once you move onto the design, having a content plan will make things much easier and remember nothing is set in stone, just yet!

Hiring a brochure designer

If you’ve hired a designer, be sure to let them know the background to your brochure, what you want it to achieve and how you plan on using it. Send them any brand guidelines and details regarding the use of your logo. You will ideally have a vector version of your logo and branding to send them. Send them an easy to follow content plan ensuring to let them know how flexible you might be with regards the layout etc. If you have any design specifications such as fonts, colours, likes and dislikes, make sure to let them know before they start.

Designers will often complete a few pages for you to check before moving onto the rest of the brochure. During these initial stages make sure to ask anyone involved what they think and gather feedback for your designer. The revision stages can be difficult when there are more people involved! Each person will have their own likes and dislikes but not everyone will make the right design choices. It can be a good idea to assign a manager for the design process, someone who has the final say. This will ensure a consistency and will be much clearer and avoid contradictions when feeding back comments to the designer.

Do it yourself brochure design

Use the right package! If you are designing the brochure yourself, make sure you have a suitable design package such as Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. If you are having the brochure printed, ask your printers for the file specifications so you start off with the correct sized document and you know how much bleed and quiet space they require.

Is your logo important? It’s important to remember that whilst you might love your logo, it’s not always advisable to have this dominate a brochure. For businesses that are not already “household names”, your branding will help to create a general impression, but is unlikely to be the main factor in the decision making process. A smart design will convey your brand identity without the need for huge logos, and will put your brochure content centre stage.

Once your reader is hooked, make sure they can look and see who’s behind this exciting product or service and how they can get in touch.

Images can make or break a brochure. If you are using images make sure they are around 300 dpi for printing. Even if you are not planning on having your brochure printed it can often be a good idea to have images which are suitable for print so there won’t be an issue should you change your mind further down the line. Make sure the images look professional – you can have the best copy and design but if your photographs are poor quality or blurry this can spoil a great brochure. Ensure you have obtained permission from the photographer. Sourcing photos from a reputable online library does not have to be expensive and can make all the difference.

Use a package such as Adobe Photoshop to edit the images. They might need cropping or manipulating to work with other photos. Don’t forget if you have any problems and your budget allows, ask a professional for help. Many designers would be happy to tweak images such as remove backgrounds or merge photos and then send you the final files. You can then add these into your brochure layout.

Getting the fonts right. When selecting a font, check it adheres to any brand guidelines and works well with your logo. Having thorough guidelines will be helpful at this stage as this will ensure the brochure looks consistent alongside other promotional material. Don’t be tempted to use lots of fonts, less is usually more and won’t distract the reader from the content.

Font size is also important to get right. Make sure the content is easily readable without looking clumsy. Have a set size for main headings and another size for sub headings. If there’s information that you need to include which is less important, set this to a size or two below the bulk of the content. Print out a page to check you are happy with the font sizes you’ve selected.

Do you need page numbers? Carefully consider aspects of the page such as footers and/or page numbering. Do you want your phone number on each page or any other contact details? Having a page number can be useful if a customer wants to refer to something they’ve seen in the brochure or you want to point something out to them over the phone. If you have a lot of pages in your brochure then don’t forget to include a contents or index page.

Check, check and check again! Once complete make sure to thoroughly check you are happy with everything and, if possible, have someone else proof read and check all aspects of the design. Once you are happy, prepare the file for print or for online use.

If done correctly and no stage is skipped or rushed you should have a brochure to be proud of.

A checklist for creating a brochure

Plan & research:

  • Why do I need to have a brochure?
  • How will I be using my brochure once complete?
  • How much money do I have to spend on a brochure?
  • Who’s going to be looking at my brochure?

The process:

  • Ensure you have great content for the brochure.
  • Plan the content carefully.
  • Hire a professional designer to create your brochure and remember clear communication is important!
  • Or, design the brochure yourself using a suitable package and carefully consider the use of images, fonts, page numbers etc.
  • Proof read your brochure and ask others to check it for you!

 

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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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