The Ultimate Guide to Brochure Design

Written by:
Orana Velarde

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.

When I think of brochures, I envision wooden displays in hotels full of colorful brochures of tours and activities in the area. Or the waiting area in banks with a wall of brochures for different types of credit card plans.  

Things are a little different now and hotels offer electronic tour catalogs on Ipads and banks have flat-screen TVs. But a brochure is still a brochure and they still work! 

In fact, now that we do so more advertising online, an appealing physical brochure has a better chance of being pinned to a corkboard or put under a fridge magnet.

If you’ve been thinking of creating a brochure for your business, you’ve come to the right place. This ultimate guide to brochure design has everything you need to get you started. From visual inspiration to preliminary work and finally the actual brochure design steps.

To get your feet wet, here is a quick video on how to create any sort of printable with Visme.

 

What is a Brochure?

Simply put, a brochure is a visual marketing asset that showcases a company’s services or products. It’s a common resource for businesses that want to attract potential customers. 

Brochures are usually printed and given to customers at events, other local associated businesses or as a reminder of a visit to an open house. There is no limit as to how a brochure is distributed. 

It’s no hard and fast rule that a brochure must be printed. You can technically also create a pdf brochure to send over email. But a classic brochure is the printed kind.

What’s the Difference Between a Brochure, a Pamphlet and a Flyer?

It’s common to hear the terms brochure and pamphlet interchangeably. It’s true, they can look the same but there’s a difference in terms of content and purpose. 

A brochure’s purpose is to entice, convince and ultimately sell a company’s products or services. A pamphlet, on the other hand, is about relaying information about a specific topic, but not to sell it. 

For example, if a museum wants to tell the story of their journey and share it with visitors, that would be a pamphlet. If a local school wants to offer summer camp courses to the community, they’d need a brochure.

When it comes to brochures and flyers, the difference is both visual and in purpose. A flyer is an unfolded page, printed on one side or both, that promotes a specific event or sale. There tends to be less information on a flyer than on a brochure. 

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

What Do Brochures Look Like?

The most common layout for a brochure is called tri-fold. This is a horizontal page printed on both sides. It has two folds that create three two-sided sections, providing plenty of space to display visuals and information in an appealing way.

Take a look at some of the brochure designs in our template library to get an idea of what these look like. 

Brochure Templates

Create brochures online quickly and easily by getting started with one of Visme’s premade brochure templates. Promote your business, products or services. Find a free brochure template that you can easily customize with your own information.

It’s true that most brochures are tri-fold, but in fact, you can create a brochure in a few other formats as well. 

For example:

  • 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.
brochure design - pet care brochure template
Customize this brochure template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Brochure Design Inspiration

Our brochure templates are enough inspiration to get you started with a tri-fold brochure design. But here are some other types of brochures that your audience might love.

Folded Brochure Design

The standard fold for a brochure is the tri-fold. 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 - z-fold brochure
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.

 

How to Design a Brochure in 7 Steps With Visme

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s go through the steps to create a brochure for your business. 

If you’ve read any of our how-to guides, you’ll remember that every design project needs a certain amount of preparation. All the content needs to be ready before you start designing. Plus, you must also prepare the message you want to relay before putting it all together. 

Our suggestion is to always do the preliminary work instead of jumping straight into designing. You’ll thank us later.

Moving on, let’s dive in.

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.

When possible, create your own imagery. If you don’t have your own photos, there are plenty of free images 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. 

More of 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. 

If this is true for you, put together a guideline for all the visual assets. 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.

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

2. Consider Your Clientele

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

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. If on the other hand, in a brochure for a Master’s degree program, the messaging is directed at people who have already graduated college.

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? 

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. Ask the employees to tell you which brochures are picked up the most and which ones not so much.

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.

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

3. Create the Content

Now it’s time to create the content for your brochure. This where your copywriting skills come in. 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. What goes into each section depends on what your brochure will showcase.

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. Consider adding a QR code for easier access to your web page or social media accounts.

This is your chance 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 and services will solve their problem. Explain in a few words why your business is better than competitors.

When putting together the content, remember that you have to lay it out on the design. 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

4. Choose a Template and Input Your Content

Now that you have the content ready, it’s time to find the perfect brochure design template in the Visme template library. 

For a Printed Tri-Fold or Z-Fold Brochure

Select the tri-fold brochure template that sparks your curiosity most or the one that best matches your industry. 

Take a look at both sides of the template to see the different panels and how your content can fit into the placeholder design.

But don't worry – if you pick a template and then it doesn’t really work for your content, you can easily change it later.

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

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

Our brochure templates have 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

For a Digital Brochure

If you want to create a digital brochure, you can either use the regular brochure template or any other size you like. Once you’re done with the design, you’ll save it as a PDF to send via email or publish it to the web and share it with a link. 

The added plus to a digital brochure published to the web and shared with a link is that you can make it interactive! Visme offers several different styles of interactivity and animation to make your digital brochure unforgettable.

You’ll have to lay out the elements a little differently than a folded brochure because you won’t be folding it. Click here for some visual design tips in a guide we published about creating social media graphics.

5. Stay on Brand

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

If you have a premium plan, set up your Brand Kit. This will help you stay on brand every time you design something. Not just a brochure.

Don’t forget to include your logo in the design! 

6. Adjust the Layout for 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 we know that not everyone’s content is the same and things do change along the way. 

So now it’s time 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.

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.

7. Review and Test Your Brochure Design

Before finalizing the design of your brochure, you need to test it. Have your team members or peers take a look at it. If you’re creating a digital brochure, share it with them using a Visme link. 

For a brochure to be printed professionally, print out one copy on your home printer. Once printed, fold it and 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.

8. Print Your Brochure

Before you print, 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 will print and fold all your brochures.

9. Share Your Digital Brochure

If you decided to create a digital brochure, you can share it in two different ways. If you designed it as a static design, download it as a jpeg and share it anywhere you’d like; social media, email, your website.

For an interactive and animated design, publish it to the web. It will then be hosted on the Visme servers and you can share it with a link. Add the link to social media or emails. You can also embed it on your website.

 

Things to Consider When Printing Your Brochure

For those of you sending your brochure out to be printed with Vistaprint or your printer of choice, 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.

Who Will Fold the Brochures

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.

The Higher the Number of Brochures, the Lower the Cost Per Brochure

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.

Ask For a 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.

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

Tips to Make your Brochure Land in Your Ideal Customer’s Hands

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.

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

High Five on Mastering Your Brochure Design

What a ride! 

We looked at what a brochure is, what it’s purpose is, the different types of brochures out there and some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing.

Then we went through the steps of creating a brochure and what to consider when printing. Finally we reviewed some tips on how to get your brochures in the right hands.

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.

Log in to your Visme dashboard 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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