5 Things to consider designing a successful brochure for print and web

Need your brochure to hit the mark? Read on…

We live in a digital world. And these days we are ALWAYS online. So, that makes print brochures (aka collateral) an amazingly effective marketing tool that can help you stand out. You see, contrary to popular belief — print is not dead. BUT, it has to be designed to do its job and be noticed!

These are some of the important things to remember when having your brochure designed. 

1. Leave them wanting to know more about your company, product, or business

Do not cram your companies’ history in this brochure. User-experience is key. Put essential information and the perfect images to entice the end-user to contact you. Use your brand elements: logo, tagline, colors, and your contact information so they know who the brochure is from, and how to get in touch.

Consider one brochure per service that can be put together as a nice package. If someone were coming to me — a graphic design firm — and they wanted to know what services I offer I could create individual brochures (or one-sheets or even postcards) for all of my services. Need some brand strategy with a logo, tagline, and website… you get the Branding and Logo brochure. Need an Annual Report for your non-profit or business… you get the Document brochure. Need a print ad for a tradeshow or a series of digital ads to sponsor an event… you get the Ad brochure. And you can literally tie them all together with a ribbon customized with your company name and phone (or web address, etc), to send them together in an envelope as one cohesive collateral package.

In the example below I created a series of program brochures for the University of Oxford. We designed a template and then poured the information into the template researching the perfect images to make each brochure unique and compelling.

marketing collateral design, brochure design, series design, new york city, london
University of Oxford Schwarzman building development brochures used consistency in the style that we developed for them to keep on brand.

While some people did not get on the QR bandwagon, they are a great way to take your print collateral and make it digital as well. You can direct someone to a particular landing page, your home page, your services page… you get the picture.

The user-experience of this 7-panel brochure was to make it small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, making the size the same as an iPhone. The information on the brochure was a teaser. If you look at how we used the QR code and “For More Information” text as the call to action when people left the event they could take immediate action by going to a dedicated website.

2. Whitespace/Negative space is your friend 

Since you are not cramming everything into this brochure you should take advantage of whitespace. Whitespace is the area surrounding design elements that give your eyes space to breathe. Design elements are areas of text, logos, photos, infographics – basically everything on the page.

The human eye views an organized and clean layout better than a cluttered space full of visual chaos. Translated into non-designers speak — it’s better to walk into a tidy room with a shiny clean floor, rather than a room where your child left their clothes, books, and toys wherever they dropped them making the floor a pile of clutter.

This brochure I designed has a lot of whitespace so the information we want people to pay attention to is really obvious. In this instance, whitespace mimics the relaxation of the images and the services provided.

Despite its name, whitespace does not need to be white. It can be any color, texture or pattern, or even a background image. Think of it as bringing calm to your collateral — like in a museum where the roped off areas can be viewed but not messed with.

3. Stay on Brand so Your Brochure is Easily Recognizable

There are many elements that help you stay on brand. As I mentioned earlier you should always use your brand elements: logo, tagline, colors, so they know who the brochure is from. Even if you are not printing the brochure it should stay within your brand guidelines.


Your logo should have a place of prominence on your brochure and it should always appear in its true form. Your logo should be supplied to you in many file formats so that your designer can use the proper one on your print or digital materials. Find out more about proper file formats. 

You should also have your logo in horizontal and vertical formats, or as a stand-alone icon. These elements tied with your tagline (if you have one) are helpful when designing your brochure.  

Typography (also known as Fonts)

Make sure that your brand guidelines (also known as brand standards or visual guidelines) include what your lettering choices should be for print as well as digital use. Often the same fonts are not available for print as web – so make sure that what you should be using is spelled out in your brand guidelines.  

This technology brochure we worked on used the branded colors and logo shape for consistency, throughout the background, lines, and icons. This brochure follows the brand guidelines so it looks just like their website.


Color is definitely brand specific. CocaCola and Target use Red, Starbucks uses green, while Duncan uses pink and orange. For print, these colors should be specified as PMS (Pantone matching system for printing under 4 colors), or CMYK (the four colors that make up all colors that are used on most print presses. If the brochure will be digital only make sure you use the RGB colors in your guidelines. The bottom link is to make sure you know and use your brand (color) numbers so that your brochure is on-brand.

So many additional things can be created in your brand colors. Consider your social media elements. For Duncan’ even standard icons such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram can be customized to appear in their brand pink and orange. You can also create charts and graphs in these colors. It might mean going being the typical excel charts – but that is what a designer is for!

4. Know where your images have been before you

If you are selling a product, great photos can help sell the product. If you are buying stock images you might find that other companies and non-profits are using the same images. Before buying a stock image use a reverse photo search to see how and where that image was used before (online). I like to use Tineye.com. If you want more tips on images like this read my article on Creatives Roundtable.

These mocked up ads show how the same image can be used for vastly different brands.

5. Let your message take them on a journey

Think of your brochure as a journey that your clients, customers, and potential clients will take to learn about your business and service.

  • Make it easy to read and use bullet points (they might be ugly but they are great for readers who scan)
  • Place your contact information in a prominent spot
  • Tell the reader what to do next by having a call to action or two. Tell them what you want them to do! Contact us to find out more… Go to our website for details…
  • Use simple words like Register, Sign-Up, Download, Learn More

If you want to know more about creating a successful brochure for print or digital use Let’s Talk!

 If you are interested in more information on document design you can read more here.

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