The Ultimate Guide to Brochure Design

The Ultimate Guide to Brochure Design

Written by:
Orana Velarde

Sep 08, 2021
brochure design - header

Let’s talk about brochure design. 

As business owners, you’re always looking for ways to advertise your products and services in a way that will appeal to your ideal customers. And as you know, a brochure is a timeless marketing staple. 

For example, if you go to a conference or a trade fair, you’ll walk out with piles of brochures. But which ones will you keep? Only the ones that truly catch your eye! That’s where brochure design comes in.

If you’ve been thinking of creating a brochure for your business, you’ve come to the right place. We've put together the ultimate guide on designing and distributing a stunning brochure in just eight steps.

To get your feet wet, here's a quick video on how to create any sort of printable with Visme. Or, you can skip the how-to and dive right into Visme's brochure maker.

 

Table of Contents

 

Step #1: Define Your Purpose

The first step to creating a successful brochure is to define its purpose. Do you want to promote a particular service? Sell a new product? Showcase your best offers? 

No matter what purpose you decide to give your brochure, keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm people.  Even if you need to include a lot of information, use visuals to break down the content and make it snackable.

Following your brand guidelines with these visuals can help improve brand recognition when potential customers see your brochures. But don't worry — if you don’t have your own visuals, there are plenty of free design elements to choose from inside the Visme editor.

In some cases, a brochure is part of a bigger marketing campaign. This can include any number of visual assets, from the brochure itself to social graphics, landing pages and more.

Consider how the brochure fits into the campaign and what to include as a call to action. Use the same images, fonts, colors and copy. All assets, including the brochure design, must fit into the campaign and look like they belong together.

More often than not, a brochure’s purpose is to gather new clients. Use the opportunity to invite them to follow you on social media or sign up for something via a landing page URL. Add a QR code to make it easy to readers to access your website or landing page.

Consider using a template like the one below to guide your brochure design.

brochure design - business travel brochure template
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step #2: Know Your Audience

As always, you need to think of the intended audience when preparing your brochure design. 

Ask yourself, "Who is the brochure for? Who is it directed at?"

For example, a brochure for a summer camp for middle schoolers is directed at both potential students and their parents, while a brochure for a Master’s degree program is directed towards those who have already graduated college. These brochure designs will be vastly different as they have two completely different audiences to target.

Another question to ask is, "Where will my brochure be handed out?"

The design for a brochure for a yoga studio that will be displayed in hair salons, coffee shops and sports clothing stores, needs to be inviting and inspirational. How will your design stand out and grab the attention of your intended audience? 

Pro Tip: Your brochures are most likely not the only ones on display. Consider how yours will look alongside others.

Collect brochures from places that display brochures for businesses like yours. Pay attention to the stacks of brochures that are lower than others — that's a pretty good indicator that those brochures are more popular.

Take notes and do some research. Ask your friends and colleagues what makes them pick up a brochure over another? Find out what types of brochures they keep and which ones they end up throwing away.

A template like the one below is perfect for attracting audiences who care about clean eating and environmentally friendly food options. Or, you can fully customize it in order to reach your specific audience.

brochure design - organic food brochure template
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step #3: Create Your Brochure Content

Now it’s time to create the content for your brochure. This where your copywriting skills come in. Or better yet, delegate this task to a freelance writer or someone on your content team who is already well versed in your brand voice.

Taking into account the brochure’s purpose and the intended audience, start drafting some ideas for the cover title and think of different ways it can be worded. 

Put together an outline that is separated into sections. Remember that your brochure will be folded into different pages, so it's easy to break up the content page-by-page.

Craft the message in a way that will entice the reader to act. Calls to action in a brochure are not as easy as they are on a website or landing page. You have to convince them to find you on their phone or laptop after seeing your brochure. Or to call or add you to WhatsApp in order to get in touch. Again, a QR code is a perfect touch to make taking action from a brochure easy.

Use this opportunity to put your value proposition front and center. There's no room for fluff here. Speak directly to your client, tell them how your products or services will solve their problem. Explain in a few words why your business is better than competitors.

When putting together the content, remember how it needs to fit within your brochure. Make the paragraphs short and choose your words well. You have to think about the space that the text will take up.

These are the elements every brochure must have:

  • Brand assets: logo, colors, fonts
  • A catchy title
  • Subtitle or slogan that explains how you solve a problem
  • Visually separate sections with titles, subtitles and body text
  • Contact details; phone number, website, email, social media
  • Appropriate visuals

Step #4: Choose Your Brochure Layout

Now that you have the content ready, it’s time to select the layout you want your brochure to have. There are a variety of ways to design, print and fold your content, so pick the one that you think will make the biggest impact.

The most common folds are:

  • Tri-fold: The two sides are folded inwards towards the middle of the brochure.
  • Z-fold: This style is similar to the tri-fold but instead of folding inwards, the fold creates a z shape.
  • Gate-fold: Another brochure design with two inward folds, but these don’t overlap. They create a "gate" effect.
  • Two-fold: One horizontal page folded over in the middle creating four equal areas.
  • Multi-page two-fold and stapled: Like above but with more pages.
  • Multi-page and bound: This style looks like a booklet and can have many pages.
  • Die-cut: These are brochures of any folded style with a unique cut out design on the pages.
  • Unique folds: Some brochures are created with unique folds, making them more memorable and appealing to the eye.

See a few of these in action below:

Folded Brochure Design

The standard fold for a brochure is the tri-fold. This folds the two sides in towards the middle so that it opens almost like a booklet.

brochure design - z-fold brochure
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

The z-fold is a variation of the same fold. This can be achieved with the same template as the tri-fold, you just have to make sure you understand which panel ends up at the back.

brochure design - brochure template from visme
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

This is a classic two-fold brochure design. It has four large content spaces and looks like a simple booklet.

Multi-Page Brochure Design

Brochures with multiple pages can be stapled or bound. These are great for showcasing many services in one go. Technically it’s almost like a web page on paper. Businesses that might need a brochure like this are hotel spas, wholesalers and realtors.

Unique Fold and Cut Brochure Design

Some printing shops offer unique folds and cuts for brochure design. If you want your brochure to really stand out, try a completely different style. You might need help from a printer to achieve this type of brochure but you can still design the visuals with Visme. 

Keep in mind that these specialty styles are much more expensive than regular tri-fold. If what you are looking for is affordability, stick to the standard brochure design and keep these in mind for when your business is much bigger and super successful.

Once you've decided which brochure layout you want, you can easily get started designing with a template, or start from scratch with our brochure maker.

Fully customize your brochure design with Visme.

  • Choose from our fully customizable templates
  • Customize fonts and colors to match your brand
  • Browse our design asset library to add visual elements

Sign up. It's free.

Our brochure templates are designed with the folds in mind. Thankfully, your Visme editor includes a grid view option to mark the folds as you design.

The templates come in the industry-standard "letter" size. In pixels, this translates as 1100 pixels wide and 850 pixels tall. Use the grid view to add the fold lines and design accordingly.

These are the grid view measurements for a tri-fold or z-fold brochure.

  • Width: 366px
  • Height: 850 px
  • Opacity: 30% or whatever works best for you

To apply the grid view in your editor, click on the hamburger menu on the top left of your screen and click on "view options."

brochure design - use grid view in visme

 

Step #5: Stay on Brand

As you're designing your brochure, remember to stay on brand. Always use your brand fonts, colors and approved visuals. This is especially important if the brochure is part of a bigger campaign with more visual assets involved. 

If you haven't already it's a good idea to put together your brand guidelines that outline exactly which fonts, colors, logo variations, patterns, visual elements and more can be used in your various designs. This is the only way to ensure your designs are cohesive across the board.

And of course, don’t forget to include your logo in the design! You want people who are aware of your business to see your brochure and instantly recognize your brand. And you want people who haven't heard of your business to start recognizing your logo and branding whenever they come into contact with it.

Easily stay on brand with Visme.

  • Upload your brand fonts, colors and logo
  • Apply your branding to a selection of templates in seconds
  • Build brand strength and recognition in your visual content

Sign up. It's free.

Step #6: Pay Attention to Hierarchy, Balance and Flow

Now that you have all the content and images in the layout, you’ve made sure that everything is on brand and that there are no typos, it’s time to get a bit nitpicky with the design. 

If you used a template, it’s likely that some of the placeholder elements got moved around, text boxes got bigger or smaller, colors changed and fonts were switched.

Our designers create the templates so that they’re ready to go with a clear hierarchy, balance and flow. But not everyone’s content is the same and things often change along the way, so it's a good practice to review the overall design and see if it still works as it should.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Does the content have a visual and contextual hierarchy?

Are the titles a bit bigger than the subtitles? Are the subtitles a little bigger than the body text? Is there clear separation and order between blocks of text?

Are the elements aligned and balanced?

Are the text blocks aligned with each other? If you’re using a nonaligned design, are the placements in balance with one another? Double-check that there are no text blocks in the area of the folds. It’s ok to have an image with a fold in it, but not someone’s face.

Do the visuals and content have a clear and easy-to-follow flow?

Is it easy to understand what information is to be seen first and what comes after? Is the content easy to read? Is the font readable? Is the color of the background competing with the foreground? If so, adjust to make sure the text is easy to read. 

Are there enough areas of empty space to let the content breathe?

The elements on a brochure design need a bit of air around them so the viewer can scan the content and see the big picture. Use margins so the text isn’t touching the borders, separate titles from body text and leave enough space between contact details so it’s easy to read.

 

As you get ready to finalize the design and share it with your audience, test it first. Have your team members or peers take a look at it. If you've created your brochure with Visme, you can easily give anyone on your team access to view, comment or even edit your design before sending it out for print.

Speaking of which, test the printed version out at home as well. Print out a single copy on your home printer then fold it to see if the sections are aligned how they’re meant to.

If one of the sections has a full color that’s different from the section next to it, you need to make sure that the fold is right on the line where the color changes. 

Review the folding parameters we showed you above. Make any changes and get ready to print. But before sending it off to a professional printer, there are a couple of things you’ll need to do. 

If you’re using images, colors, shapes or graphics that reach the edges of the page, make them a little larger so they overflow the borders. A couple of millimeters will do. This will prevent any white edges when the brochure is printed and cut.

Download the design as a PDF with bleed marks — this will show the printers where the brochure must be cut. 

brochure design - brochure with bleed marks for printing

Use a service like Vistaprint to print your brochure. You can upload your design to their system and they'll print and fold all your brochures for you.

However, if you choose to go this route, there are a few things to consider. These are things that will change the cost of the printing so it’s best to know your choices.

Type of Paper

Brochures are generally printed on light glossy paper but you can ultimately choose your type of paper. Paper that’s a little heavier will make the brochure look more sturdy and will last longer.

Your printer will give you options, they know which paper is easiest to fold and which will be more affordable.

Brochure Folding

Printers generally offer folding services in their price packages. But always ask first. Some printers have price ranges with and without a folding service. Most often than not, paying for the folding is definitely worth it since you know they’ll get it right.

Amount of Brochures

Like everything that’s printed, the more copies you print, the lower the cost will be per unit. Print the minimal largest number possible that fits with your budget.

For this same reason, it’s of grave importance that you spell check and double check everything before sending to print. 

Having a thousand printed brochures with the wrong phone number can be a disaster.

Color Test

Your printer might ask you to send the design in a CMYK color space. Ask if they can convert it for you. Ask if a PDF file with bleed marks is okay — it usually will be.

Before printing the full lot, the printers usually do a color test, but in some cases, this might cost a little extra. 

If your brochure’s colors are extremely important and you can’t afford to have it look any different to how you see it on screen, ask for a color test.

You want to make sure that the colors your brochure is printed with match your branding or your vision, especially if you use a colorful template like the one below.

brochure design - investment group brochure template
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step #8: Distribute Your Brochure

Success! You’ve now got a pile of brochures ready to attract customers and clients. How will you make sure they see them? Here are some marketing tips and tricks.

Leave brochures in local businesses where your ideal client hangs out.

Take your brochures around town and leave a bunch in places where your clients spend their time. The #1 rule, in this case, is to not leave your brochure in your competitor’s shops, only locales that are a complement to yours. 

For example if your brochure is for music lessons, leave the brochure in places where they teach art or dance. In coffee shops, book stores and most definitely the local instrument store.

Use brochure holders that match your design and don’t cover the text.

When you leave your brochures in places, don’t just lay them down, use a transparent stand. Some shops will grant you space on their counter and others will have a wall or table especially for bulletin boards and brochures.

Hand your brochures out in fairs and conferences.

When you attend fair and conferences that have to do with your industry, take a bunch of brochures and hand them out. If at any time you can start a conversation with someone about your business, do so! 

If you have a stand in a fair, show the different offers inside the brochure to your visitors.

Send brochures in the mail.

Send your brochures to potential clients in your area through the mail. Use a service like this one from the USPS to create a strategy of addresses and homes where you’d like to send your brochure. 

Add brochures to gift packages.

If you’re sending customers gift packs with products, include a brochure of your other products or services.

Insert brochures in welcome packs.

Realtors, universities and many other businesses have welcome packs. These are folders with lots of information about the neighborhood or the area. Approach businesses like these to see if they will include your brochure in their welcome packs.

Include brochures in deliveries.

If you have a delivery service of any kind, include your new brochure along with the delivery. For an added marketing angle, include a magnet along with it as well.

Share your brochure online.

If you decided to create a digital brochure, you can share it in two different ways.

First, if you designed it as a static design, download it as a high resolution JPEG and share it anywhere you’d like: social media, email, your website, etc.

Second, for an interactive and/or animated design, publish your brochure to the web. It will then be hosted on the Visme servers and you can share it with a link. Share the link on social media or via your email newsletter. You can also embed it on your website.

Just be sure you have an eye-catching brochure design, like we see with this template below.

brochure design - innovation brochure template
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Your Turn

What a ride! Now you know everything there is to know about brochure design and how to use it for your marketing strategies. Are you ready to create your own?

Regardless if you choose to create a printable brochure or digital brochure, we hope you’ll choose Visme as your trusted design partner. Sign up for a free account and get started with your brochure design today!

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    About the Author

    Orana is a multi-faceted creative. She is a content writer, artist, and designer. She travels the world with her family and is currently in Istanbul. Find out more about her work at oranavelarde.com

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