How to Design a Brochure (In 12 Steps)

How to design a brochure

How to design a brochure people want to read

How do you create a brochure people want to learn when we’re all constantly bombarded with advertisements and awareness campaigns? People have shorter attention spans than goldfish, and that makes the market for attention spans very competitive.

The key to grabbing and maintaining their focus is a good design. We’ve put together a guide for small businesses (or their graphic designers) who want to make a lasting impression.

Check out these 12 steps to designing a brochure people want to read, and remember to leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

How to design a brochure #1: Assemble the copy and images for the brochure

Step one is to prepare the elements you want to include in your brochure. If you’re a small business owner, you will already have an idea of what you want people to know about.

Likewise, if you’re a graphic designer, your client will (hopefully!) have supplied you with a brief. Assemble the copy, such as necessary information about the product/service/event, pricing, contact details, and any other relevant text.

Don’t be afraid to have too much copy — you will be editing it down later in the process. For including in brochure keep any image or logos ready. There are plenty of websites with royalty free pictures if you’re short in supply.

How to design a brochure #2: Design the brochure with your target audience in mind

It goes without saying that the design of your brochure should appeal to the target demographic. You must consider the few things which may impact how your brochure received such as age, gender, profession, interests etc. If you are a new business and are unsure how to approach this issue, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Find out the people interested in this product/service/event?
  • What would they need to know to make them buy or sign up?
  • Which kind of format would appeal to them?
  • What tone of voice would resonate with them?
  • What will grab and keep their attention?

Make the layout easy to read

You should design the layout with the reader in mind. The headline is the first piece of text they will read, so it should make them want to read on. Make the copy easy to read by using plenty of subheadings, spacing, and bullet points. People tend to skim-read in an F-shape across and down pages of text, so keep this in mind when positioning the copy.

There are, undoubtedly, a lot of things you want to put across to the reader now that you have their attention. But they might not be as enthusiastic about your message as you are. Assume that whoever ends up with your brochure in their hand don’t care at all.

How will you make them warm to you? What will prevent them from throwing your brochure in the trash can, and instead keep them turning the pages?

How to design a brochure #3: Keep your brochure consistent with your brand identity

Chances are you’ll have a brand identity unless you’re just starting out as a business and this is your first shot at marketing materials. Your brochure should include references to the image, logo, or color scheme that defines your company and brand.

Using your brand identity as an anchor for your design will help you maintain consistency across your various marketing materials. Your brochure should look like it belongs to the same company as your website.

How to design a brochure #4: Decide on a theme for your brochure

Lack of consistency screams amateur hour, so you’ll want to keep the theme consistent throughout your brochure. Pick a color scheme and a formatting scheme — and stick to it. The theme of your brochure will set the mood, so make sure that it’s consistent with your message.

minimalist graphics by Julia Schonlau book

How to design a brochure #5: Use the highest resolution possible for your brochure

You should always use the highest image resolution possible when designing a brochure. This point cannot be stressed enough. Low-resolution images might look good on your screen, but nothing will be more revealing than when your design is sent to print. Low-resolution images will result in a pixelated and ugly design — not a good impression to make on a client!

How to design a brochure #6: Try using different textures and material for your brochure

Getting creative with the textures and material of the brochure can earn you points with your clients or prospects. You have many other options for printing brochures material other than matt or glossy paper which is normally used. Since most other brochures are printed on matte or glossy paper, yours could quickly get you lost in the crowd if it looks too similar.

Consider the following textures and material for your brochure:

  • Foil – this is an excellent material for making text and images shiny
  • Spot UV – a unique way to create a matte or shiny spot to highlight parts
  • Letterpress – use this to emboss or raise elements of your design
  • Folds – ditch the classic trifold and experiment with alternative folding patterns
  • Paper types – use organic/recycled paper to show you care about the planet
  • Die cuts – cut holes in part of the brochure and allude to what’s underneath

How to design a brochure #7: Include a call to action on your brochure

Having a clear and visible call to action on your brochure is crucial. Keep in mind the purpose of the brochure throughout the design process. What do you want people to do next? Are you selling a product? Are you promoting an event? Or are you raising awareness of a social cause?

You can’t predict how much of the brochure people will read — even though you’ve taken great care to make it interesting. Therefore, it’s important to include several calls to action at the beginning, middle, and end of the brochure. This will be going to increase the chances of being noticed by the reader.

How to design a brochure #8: Keep the physical limitations of the brochure in mind

While designing a brochure getting caught up in the actual aesthetics is a normal thing. But, you should not forget the physical limitations of the brochure. There is only so much space to work with, and what looks good on your screen might not translate well on to the paper or cardboard.

person writing dollar sign on sketch book

You should consider the following when designing a brochure:

  • Paper size – this is the total amount of space you have to work with
  • Folds – make sure you don’t place anything important here
  • Page assembly – thicker booklet-style brochures will take up more space than folds
  • Bleed – leave room around the edges to allow for inaccurate printers

How to design a brochure #9: Size and portability of your brochure

If your brochure is handed out to people on the street: Then you should make it practical to carry around. Trifolds containing essential information in bullet points are a favorite for this very reason, as they can easily fit into a pocket or a bag.

If your brochure is handed out to business partners or at tradeshows: Then you can safely pack the brochure full of details, as the recipients will likely have a briefcase or a swag bag to carry it around in.

How to design a brochure #10: Proofread and edit your brochure

Proofreading your brochure, and preferably getting someone else to do it, will save you a lot of money on stupid mistakes. Discovering the spelling mistakes in a stack of brochures printed is more embarrassing than nothing else.

Not only does it not look professional, but it can also completely put people off what you’re trying to sell them. Why would they expect you to deliver a good product, service, or meet up — if you didn’t care enough to proofread your brochure?

Make sure you correct your brochure and edit out the fluff.

How to design a brochure #11: Prepare the designed brochure for printing

Just like live performance by a musician doesn’t sound the same as on the record, your printed design can end up looking slightly different than it does on the screen. You can minimize this difference by preparing your design for printing.

Take these steps to avoid any nasty surprises:

  • Use CMYK color
  • Create a bleed area
  • Pay attention to folds
  • Create a test brochure (see below)

The best way to ensure that your brochure will be well-received is to print some test brochures at home before ordering a batch to be printed professionally.

Hand out these test copies to friends, family, or colleagues, and ask for their opinion. Can they spot any mistakes? Would it grab their attention? Then you’re good to go — almost!

How to design a brochure #12: Think about the presentation and display of the brochure

How you present, the brochure is often just as important as the contents of it. Your brochure won’t be read if it’s not even picked up in the first place. Think about where your brochure will be handed out or put on display.

Handing it out in the street can be made more interesting if the brochure matches the color scheme of the person handing it out, and vice versa. Placing the brochures on an attractive display can also pique the interest of passersby.

If you liked this article, then check out these other blog posts below:

Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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