Marketing Brochure Design Guide: Make a Brochure in 5 Steps

By Midori Nediger, Mar 08, 2018

brochure design

The marketing brochure is one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook.

While digital strategies are dominating the modern marketing landscape, traditional techniques like the trusty sales brochure aren’t going anywhere.

In fact, physical marketing media may be more powerful than ever. One marketing research firm suggests that physical media is more memorable, more persuasive, and more likely to drive behavior than digital media.

The best marketing strategies of today integrate the digital with the physical, focusing on flyers, brochures, and posters just as much as websites and social media graphics.

That’s a lot to juggle!

I get it.

That’s why I’ve put together this easy 5-step marketing brochure design guide to give you the low-down on how to create a marketing brochure from scratch.

1. Define the target audience for your marketing brochure

Before you start thinking about what your brochure will look like, you need to figure out a few things about your customers and your goals.

Just like any other marketing material, a marketing brochure should be:

  1. Targeted to a specific segment of your market, and
  2. Aimed at driving some specific metric.

Whether you segment your market by age, buying cycle, income, location, or lifestyle choices, your brochure’s messaging and imagery should be designed with a specific customer segment in mind.

A home insurance brochure targeting 75-85 year-old homeowners, for example, should look very different than one targeting 25-35 year old female renters:

brochure designSources: Maggie Haverfield, StockLayouts

So your first step in developing a marketing brochure should always be to work out who you’re trying to target. If you think you might want to target more than one customer group, don’t worry! Our brochure templates make it a breeze to repurpose design again and again. Just focus on one target market to start.

Next, identify a single measurable metric that you want your brochure to boost. Ideally you should plan to use your brochure to compel potential customers to complete some specific action, like heading to your store or signing up for your email newsletter.

Figuring out what that action will be will help you write more persuasive and helpful copy. A few examples:

  • You want to book more service consultations. Your brochure should highlight what clients will gain from the consultation and give them the contact information they’d need to book one.
  • You want to push people to visit your booth at an upcoming trade show. Your brochure might showcase a new product you’ll have on hand at the show, and include a coupon for that product that’s redeemable during that event.
  • You want to drive people to check out your flashy new online store. Your brochure might feature a promo-code for first time visitors.

In any case, the key to creating a successful marketing brochure is to have a focus. Focus on the wants and needs of a specific segment of your market, and, if possible, on promoting a single action.

2. Create thoughtful, targeted messaging for your marketing brochure design

Once you have a clear focus mapped out, you’ll need to write some copy.

The structure of the brochure should guide this copywriting process. That is, you’ll need to figure out what belongs on the front, middle, and back of the brochure, and write accordingly:

brochure design

 

Let’s review some strategies for each section in turn.

The front page should have a single clear message

The front page of your brochure needs to grab the attention of your reader. Everything on that page should compel them to turn the page.

That’s obviously easier said than done, but here are a few tried-and-true tactics that might work for you.

Be clear about how you can fulfill your customers’ needs:

brochure designSource

Build intrigue by proposing a question:

brochure designSource

Keep it as brief and bold as possible:

brochure designSource

If you’re promoting a product, let the product speak for itself:

brochure designSource

If your brochure is just an informational summary of your business offerings, put your branding front and center (and include a tagline if you have one):

brochure designSource

If you’re promoting a special deal, feature it on the front page:brochure design

 

Different approaches will work better for different goals and businesses, so it’s up to you to choose the right one for you. Whichever tactic you choose, keep your copy succinct.

Limit yourself to one clear message on that front page, and express that message with as few words as possible.

A good rule of thumb? Make sure that front page copy comes in at under 25 words.

The main brochure contents should be concise and skimmable

Moving on from the front page, let’s talk about the main brochure contents.

Assuming you’ve succeeded in catching your readers’ attention, it’s time to give them what they really want–information about your products or services.

To do this, it’s best to write copy that will fit nicely into three sections, each with a header and brief description:

brochure design

 

Use headers to state business offerings up front

Your headers should clearly and concisely state each business offering or product feature, so that readers can see at a glance what you’re promoting.

It’s important that these headings deliver meaning independently without requiring any further explanation. Try to avoid empty words like ‘introduction’ or ‘about’ in favour of more expressive descriptors:

brochure designSource

If possible, frame these offerings based on your customers’ needs and wants. Focus less on what your business does, and more on how your business will give them what they want:

brochure design

 

Use brief descriptions to backup your headers

Beneath each header, you’ll want to describe the product or service in more detail.

Keep these descriptions as brief and to-the-point as possible. Try to give your readers just enough information to get them interested, and let them use your brochure as a jumping-off point to get to your store or website.

Point form summaries are perfect:

brochure designSource

If you use full sentences, limit yourself to two or three sentences per section.

The back of the brochure design should include extra details like contact information

After you’ve outlined your offerings, make sure you include anything your customer will need to take action, whether it’s an email address to contact you at, directions to your business, or a link to your website.

This bit can come last–you’ve done your convincing, now you can count on your reader to flip to the back of the page to find this information on their own.

It’s standard practice to put the essential contact information in the middle:

brochure design

 

That leaves one final section that needs some content. This is a good place to add extra information like pricing, but you can add whatever you like, as long as it includes a descriptive heading and isn’t too much longer than a paragraph.  

If you have doubts about your copywriting skills, consider an online copywriting service to get your marketing off on the right foot. Outsourcing copywriting can free up your time and let you focus on designing your content.

3. Collect unique, meaningful images or illustrations for your marketing brochure design

With your copy under control, it’s time to collect images to add visual interest to your brochure design.

To ensure your brochure doesn’t feel bare, aim to find:

  1. One image, icon, or illustration per product offering
  2. A feature image, icon, or illustration for your title page (optional)
  3. A few extra images, icons, or illustrations for your ‘about’ and ‘contact’ sections

In a perfect world, you’d have beautifully styled product shots around which to build your brochure:

brochure designSource

But we don’t all have a marketing budget that stacks up against Nike’s.

If you don’t happen to have your own product shots, it might be tempting to use stock photos, but try your very best to avoid them!

Some better options? Add a personal touch by using your own headshot as a feature image, or use stylized icons:

brochure design

 

Illustration-style images are a great way to add a playful touch:

brochure designSource

If stock photos are your only option, do your best to find images that match your brand and fit a single color scheme for a cohesive look:

brochure design

Source

Whether you choose icons, images, or illustrations, consistency is key! Inconsistency in image style and color can make your brochure design look unprofessional and will distract from the real hero – your product and your copy.

4. Design the brochure around your copy, images, and branding

It’s all come down to this–creating your marketing brochure.

At this point you should have copy and images to fill up all six sections of your brochure, front and back. Browse through our beautifully designed brochure templates for one that you like containing a similar amount of copy and visuals:

brochure templates

While it might be tempting to pick a template based on style, focusing instead on finding one that fits your content will make your life much easier (and you can change up the fonts and colors at the end).

Once you have one that you like, paste in your own copy, and swap out the stock photos for your own visuals.

If you’re happy with the design you can call it a day! Congratulations, you just made your first brochure.

But if your content doesn’t quite fit perfectly, or if you want to make your brochure design a little more personal, there are a few key tactics you can use to ensure you end up with something you can be proud of.

Center your content within each section

The easiest way to make text look good in a brochure is to center it horizontally within each of the six sections.

This keeps it away from the folds of the brochure, giving it some room to breathe!

If you center your text, center your icons and images too:

brochure design

 

Size and crop images so they match

Make your image choices look deliberate by sizing them all to match. If possible, crop them to the same aspect ratio:

brochure design

 

Or use a unique shape like a circle and size them equally:

brochure design

 

And if they don’t crop nicely to exactly the same size, create a sense of consistency by lining them up nicely with your text:

brochure design

 

Want something more unique and edgy?

Make it all about the image by pruning your text to the bare minimum. Leave a ton of white space, or extend your images to fill the entire page:

brochure design

Sources: Monnet Design, Hannah Souter

Use solid colors and background images to define brochure sections

Once you have your text and images in on your page, you might find your brochure design a little lacking the excitement department. You can inject some visual interest by adding background colors and images.

Create definition between different sections by placing large images in the background of some sections and leaving others blank:

brochure design

 

Or use a solid color in the background to brighten things up:

brochure design

 

And add texture by adding image overlays on background images.

Dark overlays will help push images into into the background, while bright overlays can bring life to stock photos:

brochure designSources: Venngage, Hillary Jones

Don’t use more than two or three colors

When it comes to brochure color schemes, less is more. My favourite brochure designs tend feature just one single bold color (occasionally more, but two or three colors at most).

How should you go about picking colors to use for your brochure?

This is where your brand colors can come in. If you have them, take cues from your logo or any other marketing materials like your website, business cards, or flyers, and carry that styling into your brochure:

brochure designSources: Foodora, Petter Backlund

Don’t have great brand colors to work with?

Fall back on the hot graphic design trends of the moment. Right now, that means bright colors and bold gradients:

brochure designSource

Don’t have the design chops to pull off a trending color palette?

Pick a single bright color and run with it! A black and white brochure with a single-color accent is really easy to get right, and can be quite impactful:

brochure designSource

Reds and blues are classic, but if you can, pull a highlight color from one your images for a cohesive look:

brochure design

 

Leave space in your brochure design

Last but certainly not least, leave lots of space in your brochure design. Don’t give in to the temptation to fill up your page with content. Leaving space for your content to breathe will really make that stuff shine:

brochure designSource

Similarly, it’s easier to pull off a simple, minimalist design than a flashy one, so don’t hesitate to stick with a white background with black or grey text.

5. Repurpose the same brochure design for different products

Now that you’ve put all of this work into designing a beautiful brochure, get the most out of your design by creating subtle variations for different products.

Keep your layout the same, but swap out colors, images, and copy:

brochure designSources: Rebecca Finn, Gresham Design, Etienne Axelos

Conclusion

This might seem like a long process, but knowing how to put together an effective marketing brochure is an essential skill for any small business owner or marketer, and our pre-designed brochure templates make it easy!

Follow these 5 simple steps create your own marketing brochure:

1. Define the target market for your marketing brochure

2. Write copy that speaks to your target market

  • Give your front page a single clear message
  • Make main brochure contents should concise and skimmable (3 sections, descriptive headers, point-form)
  • Include include extra details like contact information on the back

3. Use images, icons, and illustration to support your messaging.

  • Keep style and color scheme consistent

4. Layout the brochure around your copy, images, and branding

  • Center your content within each section
  • Size and crop images consistently
  • Use solid colors and background images to define brochure sections
  • Don’t use more than two or three colors
  • Leave lots of white space

5. Play with color and content to repurpose the same brochure design for different products

About Midori Nediger

Midori spreads visual communication tricks and tips as an Information Designer at Venngage. She’s particularly interested in helping people communicate complex information. Connect with her on LinkedIn and on Twitter @MNediger.