Printing brochures is an excellent marketing technique. They are great for conferences or to have around your office or retail location because they highlight a business' offerings and have a call to action.
I've been noticing that a lot of the tips that apply to designing web sites also apply to designing brochures. Both websites and brochures have a precarious balance between design and communication, where every single element on the page must help to get the message across.
Below I will run down a list of common web design or web optimization tips and discuss how each tip also applies to the art of brochure design.
1. Make it simple.
Have you ever seen a brochure or a website featuring a detailed image as the page background and then white text reversed out of that image? This kind of approach is extremely difficult to read. Why distract readers with a background image when you really want them to read the content?
When it comes to designing brochures, think about your favorite websites and take a minimalist approach. Make the page easy to scan with headlines and a legible font. Minimize the amount of copy on the brochure to avoid the "wall of text" look.
2. Make it unique.
The best websites have their own unique personalities. When you get to the site you instantly know where you are and what the company is about by seeing the design cues. While you want the brochure to be simple and elegant, it should also be unique and not just look like every other piece of marketing collateral out there.
One of the easiest ways to make a brochure stand out is to play with the format and page layout. Maybe you do a regular tri-fold 8.5-by-11-inch brochure, but orient the layout vertically instead of the expected horizontal layout. Or you could use the inside panels of the brochure as one big fold-out space and include a poster-like design in the middle.
3. Make it user friendly.
User experience and user interface experts will work with a web design team to be sure the site is easy to navigate. They like to make sure the users find the buttons, tabs and navigation that they are used to seeing online.
You can apply this same concept to a brochure design. For example, next to the telephone number, put an icon of a phone. Next to the email or URL, use an icon of a mouse. Basically, while you are designing you want to pull back and ask yourself, "Is it clear and easy to follow?" and "How can I make this more user-friendly?"
4. Make the desired action clear.
In every brochure, just as on every business website, there is a desired action that you want to get readers to take. The action may be "Sign up for a free trial," so that person can become a sales lead. Web designers and site optimizers will minimize any distractions on the page that subtract from the call to action that supports their revenue model.
They put the benefits or value proposition in cascading headlines and make the clickable button for the call to action one of the biggest, brightest, most noticeable items on the page. Think about Google.com. All you see is the name of the company and a search bar. The desired action is clear. Don't put too much extraneous information on the brochure and make all the copy and design funnel toward the call to action or response channels.
What are your tips for successful brochure design? Please share any thoughts or questions in the comments!