What are some tips to create a killer business brochure design?

1. Get to know the needs of your audience.

When you create a brochure, it can be tempting to jump straight into the exciting stuff: design ideas, headline concepts, different paper stocks, multi-page brochure templates.

Before you dive in and get the creative juices flowing, stop and take a second. To create an effective piece of marketing collateral—whether it’s a brochure, a business card, a poster, or a flyer—you need to understand your audience.

Before you put pen to paper, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • Am I talking to one broad, single group (for example, if you own a café, anyone who is hungry?) or am I talking to specific subgroups of a larger audience (for example, people with specific dietary requirements, people who live within a specific distance to your café, people who might visit in the morning as opposed to afternoon)?
  • How much do they know about my business and our services? Do we need to explain the product, service or offering, or will the audience immediately understand what we’re talking about?
  • What do my audience(s) want?
  • What am I offering?

Mapping the answers to these questions will help you develop highly specific, targeted messaging to ensure you’ve got the content nailed well before you consider design, stock, templates or sizing.

2. Get the writing right, before you even think about visual design.

There’s a popular saying in design communities that suggests ‘content is king’, and it certainly rings true when creating the best possible brochure.

Before you can design anything, you need to consider what you’ll say, how you say it, in what order, and what level of importance is attributed to each idea.

Are you promoting the business in general? Or a unique offer? Maybe both?

You can definitely communicate multiple ideas in the one brochure, but it’s crucial that you work out how they all sit together. This is called a ‘content hierarchy’: it’s basically what messages feature in what positions, and how you guide people through information.

A content hierarchy will help you to determine if your content logically fits into the one brochure, or if you should create multiple brochures with different tactical objectives.

Designers can also use a content hierarchy to inform which headlines are most prominent, where different colours, images or call-out boxes might sit within the overall aesthetic, and more.

To create an effective content hierarchy, consider:

Sometimes, less is more

Take these two options:

  1. ‘Better brochure layouts, whatever your business’
  2. Or

  3. ‘We create and design the best possible custom brochure layouts regardless of your industry or sector, with the highest quality results guaranteed every single time’

Which do you find more effective?

Think about what appeals to your readers, not what appeals to you

It may seem strange, but sometimes they’re not the same thing.

There’s an old idea in marketing that suggests “nobody wants to buy a 5cm drill bit; they’re looking for a 5cm hole.”

Sometimes, there’s a gap between what you offer and what your customers actually want. They may not want a designer; they may want appealing aesthetics that deliver on business goals. They may not want legal services; they may want peace of mind and security. They may not want business consulting; they want expertise in dealing with the problems they’re currently facing.

Take the time to think about the value you deliver from your client’s perspective, rather than from your own.

Try to deliver value, even from a distance

Think about the message you convey to a person who only glances at your brochure. What will their one takeaway be? Make sure you have a clear, bold headline that speaks to a key value proposition or offer.

Try to tell a clear story for people who might only skim your content, rather than reading it in full. You can achieve this by:

  • Pulling out key sentences or ideas so they’re clear and easy to read, rather than getting lost in big slabs of text
  • Using bullet or numbered lists to get a series of points across quickly
  • Using different font sizes to establish which messages are the most important
  • Resisting the urge to have too many messages or ideas in the one brochure (see the point above; ‘sometimes, less is more’).

3. Experiment with different design layouts and brochure sizes.

Once you’ve got messaging sorted, it’s time to think about how the content fits together visually.

Remember, you don’t want to cram too much information into a small space. You may think more information means more chance of connecting with customers, but you run the risk of squeezing too many elements in and compromising legibility.

Designing a brochure is rarely a ‘one-and-done’ experience, especially if you’re new to the game. In other words, have a play around with different sized templates, colours, and arrangements to find the most impactful solution for you.

Depending on your goals and content, you could try designing options for:

  • A4
  • A5
  • A6
  • DL

Pro tip: test your designs with a few different people to get feedback on what works—and what could be improved—before you get ready to print.

4. Use consistent fonts.

Remember the ‘ABC’ of marketing a brand or business: Always Be Consistent.

This relates to many considerations in brand collateral—from the way you describe your services to the colours and style of images you use—but it’s particularly important to remember when choosing the fonts for a killer brochure.

Consistent fonts will go a long way towards a design that looks reasoned, clean, professional, and slick.

Too many different fonts in a small space will create visual tension, provide a distraction, and can ultimately detract from the message you’re trying to convey.

5. Choose imagery to support your key messages.

While your messaging and content hierarchy are both critical, we all know that a picture tells a thousand words. Carefully selected images can convey key messages in a second, and with significant impact.

We usually shoot for images that:

  • Are brightly lit and high-quality image files (blurry, dark photos will likely create a negative impression, regardless of your business).
  • Convey a sense of energy and optimism.
  • Support the objectives of your business and marketing tactic. Photographic imagery is perfect for businesses and services with a tangible output: for example, the interior of cafes, examples of designers’ work, or a landscape gardener’s efforts in different yards. Slightly more abstract services—like business consulting or accounting—will benefit from a different approach.
  • Are legally cleared for your intended use. If you’re using stock or found imagery, be careful to check the usage rights before you include images in any of your promotional materials. Of course, the best option is to shoot your own photos: it’s the best way to highlight the unique features of your business and tell your story!

6. Don’t forget the stock you’ll rock.

In printing, you’ll likely come across the phrase ‘GSM’. It stands for ‘Grams per Square Metre’, and basically equates to the quality of the paper stock you print on. The higher the GSM, the heavier (or thicker) the paper, and the more premium the impression it creates.

For example, 150GSM Gloss Art Paper is a higher quality than 115GSM Gloss Art Paper. You can use different weights to reiterate the nature of the messages in your brochure.

For example, if you’re a wholesaler advertising the lowest prices in town, it makes sense to print on a lower-quality stock to reiterate the cost-effective nature of your offering. It’s all about value!

On the other hand, if you’re promoting your skills as a premium quality photographer working in high fashion, you’ll likely want to create a more luxe impression through a higher GSM.

What’s the perfect stock for you?

7. Format for the win (and use this handy pre-print checklist).

Whatever your business and whatever your message, every brochure will benefit from the following formatting checklist.

Before you go to print, make sure you:

  • Include a clear call-to-action to direct your audience towards a goal: make a phone call, visit a website, redeem a promotional code, or something similar.
  • Supply your artwork file as PDF format.
  • Include a 3mm bleed in your artwork file (ensure that all colour extends 3mm off the side of the template to accommodate for trimming in production).
  • Ensure your file is 100% scale.
  • Ensure all images are 300dpi.
  • Nominate all colours as CMYK or pantone numbers.
  • Convert text to paths, curves, or outlines.

Looking to create a high-quality brochure design that sets you ahead of your competitors? Or need help with formatting your artwork?

Remember, we can always assist in formatting your design for the best chance at success, or even create a design for you. Call us now on 1300 663 120.