Help! I need a brochure 3

No 3 in a series  about sourcing a brochure for your business.

When you’re first thinking about a new brochure, there are a number of important decisions you need to make to ensure a smooth, successful project.

Decision 3: Who will write and design your brochure

The design and wording of your brochure are your next big consideration after size and choice of printer. Like the size and the print run, these decisions can also have a big impact on the final cost.

If your brochure is part of a bigger advertising or PR campaign, it makes sense to brief your advertising or PR agency to do the job. This way you can make sure that it has the same look and feel as the rest of the campaign.

For a one-off brochure, using a freelance designer and writer will almost certainly be more cost-effective. They don’t have the overheads of an advertising or PR firm and there’s always a benefit in dealing directly with the people who are doing the work.

Most designers can recommend writers and vice-versa, so a phone call to one or the other will probably get your brochure underway with a minimum of fuss.

It helps to have a rough idea of what you are willing to pay before you approach a writer or designer.

If you can give them a written brief, this will help enormously. The brief can be a simple or complex as you want to make it.

By writing a brief for your brochure, it not only helps to clarify your own thoughts, but it gives the writer and designer a checklist they can use to make sure they’ve included everything you want.

At a minimum I recommend including the following points in a creative brief for a brochure:
  1. Full name of product or service (include trademark information)
  2. Reason for needing a brochure
  3. Size and number of pages (if you’ve already decided)
  4. Who the brochure will be read by and how it will be delivered
  5. Single most important reason why the customer should buy your product or service, instead of a different one. (This is often the hardest part but try to keep it to one single point)
  6. Any other secondary reasons
  7. Any special offers
  8. Call to action: what you want them to do after reading the brochure
  9. Your contact details and any other mandatory information, including your ABN, website address and any tracking code.

If you are planning to use the same basic story on your website, let the team know because they may be able to save you some money by adapting the brochure copy and design to make it work effectively online.

Choosing a writer

Try and choose a brochure writer who has written something similar before, either for the same type of product, for the same audience or in the same style. This way you can be confident that he or she will grasp the fundamentals of your brief and you won’t have to do too much explaining.

Many writers display their best work on their website. Look for a writer whose website displays good writing in a style you like.

By choosing a brochure writer with skills in marketing and/or advertising you should come away from your first meeting feeling confident that they grasp the basic dynamics of your business and that they understand what you need to achieve.

The writer will give you a quote for their part of the job. The quote should explain how the price was arrived at; e.g., an hourly rate and/or a concept development fee. There may be an allowance for revisions, and there may be costs for meetings with you, for liaising with the designer and for proofreading the artwork.

Choosing a designer

Choosing a designer is different to choosing a writer. With designers, it’s not so important whether they have done something for a similar product or audience; it’s more important that you like the look of their work and that they can easily explain to you how they will tackle your job.

Look at their portfolio and get a feel for the kind of work they do best. If you  can see something that has the look and feel you want, that’s a good sign. When you meet the designer, be up-front about what it was that made you choose them. That way they’ll get a good idea of the design qualities you are looking for.

Make sure your designer has done brochure work before. Some designers who are very skilled at digital design haven’t got experience in the nuts and bolts of print.

By asking them to explain how they’ll tackle the job, you’ll get a good idea of their understanding of the medium.

Nowadays many brochures use stock photography but if your brochure will need new photography or illustration, (product shots, for instance) choose a designer who is experienced in directing photographers and/or buying illustration.

When you get the quote from the designer, it should explain how the price was arrived at; e.g. an hourly rate and/or a concept development fee. Again, there may be an allowance for revisions, and costs for meetings with you, for liaising with the writer and printer and for outputting the artwork in the format the printer requires.

If you want the designer to provide a physical mock-up of the piece to show to your colleagues, make this clear as well.

Bear in mind that the writer and designer’s quotes will normally allow for a limited number of revisions. If possible, try and give them all your revisions in one go, otherwise they may want to charge extra because they have done more sets of revisions than they allowed for.

Making everything fit into your brochure

You probably have a lot of great things to say about your product or service, but it has to fit neatly into the brochure size you have in mind.  If it doesn’t fit, the writer will trim it down to more concise points, the designer will reduce or eliminate some graphic elements or alternatively, you can decide to make the brochure larger.

Broadly speaking, the more you have to say, the more pages you need to say it. There’s no point trying to cram 1000 words into a tiny DL flyer because people won’t be bothered trying to read it. Less is more, and your writer will try and hone the story down so it is inviting and compelling to read in the chosen format.

The designer will be hoping there’s enough space left for him or her to make the brochure eye-catching.

Why you can’t have a five, seven or nine page brochure

I’ve often been asked to explain to people why they can’t have an odd number of pages in their brochure and it can be difficult to explain. I guess the simplest way to explain it is this:

A brochure has to have an even number of pages because:

  1. A piece of paper has two sides, so a leaflet without  staples will have a back and a front. We call this a ‘flyer’.
  2. You can fold a piece of paper in half, and then it has a front, two inside pages and a back. That makes it a four page leaflet. Like this.
  3. You can make two vertical folds and then it has a front, a flap, three inside pages and a back. Six pages altogether. Like this.
  4. You can make three vertical folds and then you have an eight page leaflet. It has a front, a two-page flap, four inside pages and a back.  Any more folds than that and I would normally recommend a stapled brochure.

In a brochure that’s stapled, your pages always come in multiples of four. That’s because each sheet of paper is folded in the middle to make four pages. So your stapled brochure will have eight pages or 12 pages or 16 pages or 20 pages or… you get the idea.

You can also fold a sheet of paper up in four like a handkerchief or have it open concertina-style. There are pros and cons to all these formats and I’d be happy to discuss them with you.

Recently I’ve done a number of brochures that come in the form of a 4-page folder with an inside pocket. Like this. The pocket enables you to add loose sheets. The loose sheets can be updated as required, saving you from having to reprint the brochure as frequently.

Another alternative is to spiral bind your brochure, like this, then you can then have the pages in multiples of two if you wish. Like this.

I hope this helps you get your brochure plans another step down the road. Please call me if you’d like further advice, or to have a chat about how I can help you with your brochure.

Don’t miss my other articles on brochures:

Decision 1: The size and shape of the brochure

Decision 2: Who will print my brochure?




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