The Mistakes That Are Making Your Brochure Ineffective

Virtually every business the world over uses brochures to convey important information. Whether you’re meeting with a client, prospecting at a trade show or someone just happens to stop by your business looking for more information, brochures are the way to go to effectively communicate your key services and value.

Of course, there are brochures which effectively convey this information, and others which… well, not so much. When designing a brochure for your own business, it’s important you avoid the mistakes that can reduce the effectiveness of your materials.

Creating Impactful Brochures is an Art Form

Structuring your brochures to engage your audience is an art form. Information, images and the overall design need to be structured to provide their own narrative, guiding the reader through the piece and leaving them with a jumping off point to act on your offers.

The graphic designer you work with will do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to structuring your information in an appealing way, but they can only do so much with what you present them with. That’s why planning the information you are going to share and understanding best practices for formatting brochures is essential to getting your project off on the right foot.

The structure of each brochure will be highly determined by what you are trying to communicate. There are a few general buckets your brochure could fall into, which can be generally defined as:

  • Product or Service Promotion – This is where you highlight a single service or offering. By focusing on only one component of your business, you’ll have more space to present information on the benefits of your service. This will also prevent you from overwhelming your audience with an abundance of information.
  • Company Promotion – This type of brochure is more high-level than the “promoting a service” brochure. Because of the amount of ground you’ll likely need to cover, you’ll need to provide briefer details about your services and mission than you would in one of the other brochure formats.
  • Value Promotion – This type of brochure is designed to show off aspects of your business you’re proud of, such as a commitment to customer service or environmentally friendly practices. The goal of these brochures is to make prospects or clients feel good about doing business with you. 

It’s highly likely that you will create brochures that fulfill all three of these categories, and possibly distribute them all at the same time. Though they will all have different focuses, there are a number of mistakes we frequently see that could negatively impact any of the brochure formats.

As you’re developing your brochures, be sure to avoid making the following mistakes.

Don’t: Cram as Much Information in Your Brochure as Possible

There is a lot that can be communicated about your business, products and company value. However, a brochure is the wrong place to go into great detail about them.

Brochures should serve as a high-level, introductory piece to give prospects the most necessary information. It should be enough for them to determine if it’s worth taking the next step to learn more without getting into the weeds. 

How can you avoid overloading your brochure with information that’s too much, too soon for your readers? Focus on structuring your content in a way that forces brevity.

To keep your message clear, focus on structuring your language in easily digestible formats. The following tips can help you make brief, easy-to-ready brochure copy: 

  • Keep descriptions short, no longer than one or two sentences. Do whatever you can to avoid large blocks of text – this can be overwhelming to the reader, and cause them to skip over it entirely.
  • Try to keep the content on each page of your brochure focused. For example, avoid placing information about your services on the same page as your company mission statement. Though it may seem like an efficient use of space, keeping this information separated will make each section easier to find and remember.
  • Include clear information on how your audience can contact you, including phone number, email and street address.

Don’t: Use Low Resolution Images

You should never, ever, print a brochure using a low resolution (“low res”) image. While you’d think that avoiding photos that aren’t print-quality would be a no-brainer, you’ve likely run into brochures that included blurry or grainy photos – a telltale indicator of low resolution.   

The solution here is simple: only include high resolution images in your design. As a general rule, high resolution images have at least 300 pixels per inch (ppi), a measurement printers use to check image quality. Your printer will alert you if there are low resolution images in your design. 

When looking for images or submitting them to your printer, keep in mind that the bigger the file size, the more likely it is to be a high res image. If you’re not sure where to start while looking for high resolution photos, consider either purchasing stock images from sites like Shutterstock or iStock, or rely on free image sites like: 

Don’t: Skip Proofs

The last mistake that you need to avoid is skipping the proof review process. Before the completion of any printing project, once designs have been submitted, your printer will likely grant you the option to view at least one of two kinds of proofs. 

One will be a digital proof, which is useful to quickly check and see how the printed design looks, but should in no shape or form be seen as the definitive proof. Since there’s a good chance that the colors you see on your computer monitor are not the same as what will appear on the printed version, its best to not depend solely on a digital proof if at all possible.

This is why the second form of proof, a physical, printed proof, is what you need to spend extra time analyzing. Take the print and look at it under different lights to be sure the colors suddenly don’t appear out of sorts with what you thought you were getting. When checking for color, flip the printed piece upside down. This will allow you to look past the design and words to see if there are any odd color problems. And most importantly, if you have any questions or concerns, bring them up with your printer. You’ll be able to work together to correct any errors so that your full run of brochures looks perfect.

Should you have any questions during your brochure printing process, ask your printer for help! They have ample experience printing different types of brochures that they can lean on to help make sure yours turns out just as good (if not better) than you envision.  

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