How to create a marvellous marketing brochure

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Brochure (noun) 

A type of small magazine that contains pictures and information on a product or a company*, often stitch-bound

Mid 18th Century (1748), from the French brochure “a stitched work” and brocher “to stitch”

When the art of printing was introduced in the 15th century, the high costs involved meant that printing was reserved for matters of highest importance. As printing technology advanced, so printing costs decreased, and printing itself became more accessible. By the 18th century, printed marketing brochures were a popular way of advertising goods and services, used for example, by post offices to advertise postage rates.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, printing services became more widespread. Historic England’s archives contain marketing brochures advertising the sale of estates and properties across England during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These marketing brochures typically contained plans and drawings, later photographs, as well as written descriptions, designed to entice prospective buyers.

Brochures of many pages are now often stapled, rather than stitch-bound. A common style is a single sheet, often folded.

It’s important to distinguish between brochures and pamphlets, which are also often folded. A pamphlet is typically an unbound booklet of few pages used to advertise or provide information on a single subject, such as a take-away menu, event promotion, or campaign details.

A brochure is a single or multi-paged print product more commonly used for advertising multiple products of services, often bound, sometimes folded.

The Thomas Cook Effect

In October 2021, work began to archive digitally the Thomas Cook collection.

Thomas Cook was an English businessman, born in Derbyshire in November 1808. Cook took the temperance pledge on New Year’s Day 1833, and his promotion of the movement included a meeting in Loughborough, in July 1841. Cook arranged transport to the meeting by express train – his first commercially organised round trip and the first-ever excursion train in England. He made a considerable profit, and established his self-titled travel company.

The collection includes historical travel brochures, the oldest of which dates back to 1858. Continental brochures, offering the UK’s residents package holidays abroad, appeared in 1865. Cook’s canny brochure marketing contributed to the business becoming one of the oldest and best known names in leisure travel.

According to Director of Bentley University’s Centre for Marketing Technology (CMT), Ian Cross, “people still value tangible ‘in-the-moment’ printed materials”. Findings from a survey by CMT determined that 79% of respondents** would pick up the brochure. 85% of respondents became aware of a business or service as a result of picking up a brochure; 73% would consider altering plans because of a brochure’s influence; 61% planned to purchase goods or services they learned about in a brochure.

We know that the market remains captivated by a printed marketing brochure. So, where do you start, when creating your marketing brochure?

We’ve put together a checklist of creative ideas for attention-grabbing and persuasive marketing brochures that will help you stand out from the competition.

√ Cover Story

Your cover has to be eye-catching, yet appropriate to your business and your brand. Marketing brochures tend to have a heavier weight cover, front and back, to the inner pages, but there is no hard-and-fast rule.

Think about how your brochure will be displayed. Will it be in a pile, on a shelf, or perhaps in its own display unit. A cover includes the back and front of the brochure, and also the spine (depending on the number of pages). This means you have three areas in which to design real shelf appeal.

√ To Stitch, or Not to Stitch

As we mentioned earlier, the word brochure is French for stitched work. Nowadays, it’s not necessary to stitch a multi-paged brochure: there are other options available. You might consider staples, coil or spiral binding (wiro), or PUR binding.

An alternative to multi-paged brochures, is to use a single page and fold it. Bi-fold, tri-fold, quarter-fold, map-fold, Z-fold, accordion- or concertina- fold, 3-panel or double-gate fold, roll-fold, broadside, books and shapes.

The World Wildlife Federation published a brochure on climate change that can be unfolded into a poster. The 2010 NEXT Wave Festival events list, presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Art, is a four-page concertina-fold brochure. It uses paper engineering techniques, which provide the brochure with a sculptural quality, as well as highlighting specific text.

The possibilities are mani-fold (see what we did there?!).

√ Font of all Knowledge

Fonts go further than just sharing a written message. In speech, it’s tone that influences how messages are received. In print, it’s font.

For clarity: type is a generic term for everything that goes into visual text; typography is a phrase designers use to refer to the style and appearance of printed text; typeface refers to the font family, for example Times New Roman, Arial, Courier New, even Wingdings; font refers to the specific style of a typeface, for example Times New Roman Italic, Arial Black, and Century Gothic.

Different fonts invoke different feelings. The style you choose can help convey your messaging, often just at a glance. Be sure to choose a font with traits that resemble context.

Script fonts convey elegance and artistry. Handwritten fonts can lend a personal look to your print. Long thin lines convey beauty, whereas bold prints are masculine and powerful. Simple fonts suggest straightforwardness. Even the height of your font choice can influence a viewer’s experience: short fonts denote stability, whereas tall fonts suggest lightness and luxury.

For a cohesive design, choose no more than two or three fonts to use throughout your marketing brochure.

√ True Colours

“One picture is worth a thousand words”, said Albert Einstein. Imagery in brochures includes photography, illustrations, graphics and iconography. They all bring colour and dimension to any printed collateral.

Many brochures are printed on white or cream stock, with blocks of colour designed in. Coloured accent pages within brochures are bang on trend, used to complement facing imagery, highlight key content, and underpin brand identity. Iconic jeweller Tiffany & Co uses its trademark colour, Tiffany Blue, in a similar way: instantly recognisable.

√ Complete Contrast

Use printing techniques, such as die cutting and textured print, to highlight key content in your brochure, or to make a statement.

Louis Vuitton’s 7 brochure, by design firm Adesignboutique, is simply striking. A die-cut 7 on the front cover is backed by an accent leaf in the brand’s colours. 3rock’s corporate brochure design isn’t bound or folded. Instead, the individual pages are kept together in an orange sleeve with a cut out design. New Yorks’ Strasenburg Planetarium information brochure features a die-cut rocket ship on its front cover, with a trail of stars leading to the map on the back cover. They’re not just brochures, they’re works of art.

And now for something completely different…

It doesn’t really fit into our checklist, but it’s so unique, we had to include it.

Design firm 160over90 created a 3D-brochure of Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. The brochure folds into a miniature of the school’s iconic tower. The message behind this unique design was that, despite its relatively short history when compared to other Ivy League schools, Duke boasts “versatility, adaptability, and creates innovative progams [sic]”. It certainly embraces innovative marketing brochures!

If you’re ready to create a marvellous marketing brochure, we’re ready to help! Contact one of our friendly team today, on 01625 870000.

* Cambridge Dictionary
** 2,020 respondents from 17 cities in North America and Western Europe

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