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Brochure Design Secrets

Updated on October 3, 2014
Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach

Brochures Promote Your Company

Desktop publishing has made brochures cheaper then ever! This Hubpage is about how you can make your own and print them on the office computer. We'll cover the basics. So relax, this can be fun!

You'll learn how to prepare both three-panel and four-panel brochures which you can distribute from your lobby, desktop, in the mail, or along with customer's orders.

By the way, brochures are a lot easier to prepare with background images like you see here. They can be edited for a more subtle effect as well.

Begin at the Beginning

Advertising is an important part of any business. Brochures are a proven advertising tool. More prestigious than a flyer, a brochure can enhance your professional image. But brochures need to look professional or they cannot be expected to perform well.

Your text is the heart of your message, so be sure you have a clear idea about what you want to say in the brochure. You should focus on a particular product line/service or provide a solid overview of your business -- and how it can serve your customers. Be sure you include contact information including telephone (voice and fax), email, and street address. You may want to let sales associates personalize the brochure by inserting their business card, name and/or telephone/extension.

You'll want to develop some short, catchy text for the front cover of the brochure to draw interest. On the inside, you'll be able to explain how you can help your customers make money, serve their customers better, etc. You main pitch is inside. You'll also have space for a company overview on a separate panel, or you can allow sales associates/service providers to include a short blurb of their own to sell their expertise.

Be sure your text is easy to understand, focused, and effectively sells your product(s) and services. Also be sure to check for misspellings, typesetting errors, and the like.

Three Panels or Four Panels?

The beauty of a three-panel brochure is it uses the standard 8.5" x 11" paper. It is simpler and there are fewer folds, so the three-panel brochure is my personal recommendation. But when you have a lot to say and you cannot condense it, you can modify your paper size and go for a four-panel brochure.

The four-panel brochure is printed on legal size paper, which is 8.5" x 14." So before choosing this option, make sure your printer will accommodate it. You may want to use a copy shop for the photocopying and folding anyway. The four-panel brochure will allow you to have a longer sales pitch inside. It also will allow you an extra panel for additional information on the opposite side of the paper.

Whatever you decide, make sure you are able to effectively convey your message. Brevity is important. So is clarity and focus. But be sure you can provide all the details you need to provide. Any cost savings on paper and printer should not be allowed to impede your effectiveness.

Choosing Your Art

You may want to include photos of your products, the owner or company president, or even the store or office. Be sure the photos you choose are not too dark or light and are in proper focus. Be sure the photos tell your story. They should help enhance your message and make a positive impression!

You may want to include a small map to help others find your business. You also should include your company logo.

You may find stock art photographs are helpful in conveying your message. This might include stock images with models or nature. Choose your photos with care to avoid looking unprofessional or making it obvious you have used "canned" art. Be sure you have permission to use the photo for business purposes. This may entail purchasing a commercial license for the photo.

If you want something special, you may need to hire a photographer and arrange for a photo shoot. Be sure to look at their portfolio and get prices before committing to the job.

Designing Your Brochure

If this is your first brochure, you'll want to practice with a blank sheet of paper to get a feel for how the panels will be designed and folded. Look at your available art and estimate the desired size.

If you are designing a three-panel brochure, set up a two page 8.5" x 11" document in your page layout software. Three panels will measure three inches or 18 picas wide if you leave a 1/3 inch or 2 pica margin on all sides. This will leave a 2/3 inch or 4 picas as a gutter between columns of type. Your inside will be on one side of the page and the other side will have the front, back and an inside panel. Do a test print before you get too far along in the job to be sure each column is going to print the way you expect it!

A four-panel brochure consists of two legal size pages of 8.5" x 14" pages, which again will print on both sides of your paper. To leave the 1/3 inch or 2 pica margin will give you four 17-pica wide panels, which converts to a little over 2 3/4 inches width per panel. Gutters are 2/3" inch or four picas. See how you want to fold the brochure to create the effect you want, either two folds from the right hand side, or one fold on each side and a fold in the center.

If your printer does not do duplex printing, you can feed the brochure through the printer a second time to print the second side. Be sure to position your paper to print properly, even if you need to do a bit of experimenting first!

When the printing is done and it's time to fold, be sure the first fold is about 1/8 inch short of its mark to avoid creasing the panel when the second panel is folded.

Software from

I began using Adobe products in the 1990s when I ran a desktop publishing company. I highly recommend using Adobe's page layout software, Adobe Indesign, for basic design projects.

Choosing your Paper

Your choice of paper will reflect on your company, so consider carefully what image you want to create. For a slick look, you may want paper with a glossy finish. If slickness will just make you customers think you're too expensive, go for a budget look with a black-and-white flyer on an appropriate colored paper background.

You may want to experiment with different papers to decide what looks best. Begin by checking what papers can be used with your printer. The wrong type of paper will cause jams and make your job more difficult. Stick with a recommended paper and you'll be able to mass produce your brochure in-house.

While the traditional 20-lb. bond paper is safest, you likely will want to upgrade to enhance the brochure's appearance and ensure type does not show through the paper. You will find the thinner papers are preferable if you want to do the folding yourself.

If your printer will take a card stock, experiment with it and be sure you are happy with how it folds. You may prefer to have your brochures photocopied and folded at a local copy shop to save yourself work and to have a more professional looking fold.

Wrapping it Up

When you've written your message, designed your brochure and produced a a polished mockup, it time to critique your brochure. Show it to the boss, colleagues and trusted advisers to find out if your brochure does a good job.

You'll want to ask your advisers if the brochure 1) Creates the right image 2) Effectively sells your product or service 3) Contains all pertinent information and 4) Is free from errors.

There is no replacing the extra pairs of eyes. You've been staring at it for so long, mistakes could easily slip by. So don't skimp on this last step.

It's also a good idea to print the brochures in small batches as you need them, rather than reproducing large quantities. This way you'll be able to give the brochure a test run, catching any errors which slipped through. As you get feedback from customers and others, you may want to change the brochure.

Once you are completely satisfied with the brochure, you may want to price photocopying and printing options. If you will need upwards of 500 copies in a short period of time, and are confident you will not require changes, it may be more cost effective to have the brochures professionally copied or printed. This should broadens your paper options, which may enhances the professional look of your brochure. Consider a glossy stock for slick professional look or keep costs down with a pastel paper and black ink.

Why Have a Brochure?

Brochures are versatile and can be used in a number of ways to sell your business, or to sell new product lines. While glossy brochures can be pricey, especially when ordered from a printer, they are a valuable way to advertise to your existing customers and encourage repeat business.

Any kind of advertising can be criticized, granted. But advertising that focuses on existing customers may likely be more productive. With a brochure, you can test its value before committing to a large print run. Experiment with different types of paper. Try bold colors or a glossy paper that will work with your office printer. Measure your response and decide then if your brochure is a winner. If it is, you'll save money in the long run by ordering your brochures in bulk.

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

About the Author

Years ago I used to run a desktop publishing business. I learned on-the-job how to create brochures using Adobe software. In my business, I did lots of flyers, business cards, stationery and other projects. But one of my favorites was the brochure. It can be classy!

My background includes writing for newspapers and magazines -- as well as for clients.

These days I use Adobe software to design books and book covers, as a self publishing assistant. I also offer ghostwriting, editing, copyediting, proofreading and formatting. I've authored some short ebooks on self publishing: What You Should Know Before you Hire a Book Designer, What You Should Know About Self Publishing, and Book Marketing Strategies for the Reluctant Marketer.

Among my Christian e-titles are Lost in the Woods: A Bible Camp Mystery, and Alone in the Woods, the second book in the Bible Camp Mystery series. The series features Chet Harrigan, a former New York gang leaders who takes 10- to 16-year-old boys to the Central Florida backwoods to seek God. With unexpected results. Nothing ever goes as planned, and the group learns to live by faith. They demonstrate the biblical path to salvation, the power of prayer, and the importance of obedience.

Learn more about me at my website, or connect with me on Facebook.

More Software from Amazon

If you've graduated from the basics, it's time to consider some art, photo editing, or other softwares. I recommend Adobe Illustrator to create your own logos, clip art, and other graphics like three-D type. Adobe Photoshop is great for editing your photographs and creating special effects. If you're doing heavy design work, you may as well equip yourself with Adobe Creative Suite.

© 2014 Cheryl Rogers


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