You work hard getting the right cover message and words for your brochure. Now,
you want to give it a look, an image.
Why a look? Most consultants see themselves as hard working and pragmatic. They
believe the look of their materials is unimportant. After-all, clients are hiring
expertise not looks, right? Not so!
People buy people first, ideas second and things third. Your brochure represents
you. It is you when you're not around.
What sort of image do you want to convey? Would you visit a prospect wearing a
cheap, out-of-date suit, looking sad and second-class? Unlikely. However, many
people do just that, when they use low-quality, poorly designed brochures. Your
brochure represents you when you are not there. Make sure it is dressed in the
fashion and quality you would use for yourself. Before you run out and find yourself
a tailor or take up sewing, you should first look at your competition's material and
other's material. Collect brochures that strike you as effective, and those that are
poor. Think of it as fingering through GQ or Vogue looking for a new outfit. Figure
out what makes the good brochures work and where the bad brochures fail. What
kind of attitude do they portray?
Then try to come up with something that combines some of the elements from
successful designs. But, be careful, don't create a zoot suit. And, make sure it fits.
Look at the layout of your page--is it a dense wall of words? Don't make your
prospects work to find out what they need to know--because, bet on it, they won't.
Lay your information out in bite-sized pieces, with revealing headings, to help your
reader grasp the main message. These are like the accessories you wear. Small
signals that give the viewer an indication of what you are like and what you do. Be it
a Rolex or a mood ring.
Two important, but often unrecognized, problems with brochures are poor grammar
and poor typography. You might as well wear brown shoes with a blue suit. Your
audience may not know what is amiss with your materials, but they'll be disturbed.
Use high-quality, and appropriate, visuals (colours, graphics, etc.) to illuminate and
support your message. If you use clip art, choose it carefully. Use the same style and
quality of art throughout your brochure. And, make sure it relates to what it is
illustrating. That is, make sure your tie matches your suit. Poor visuals will only get
in the way and muddle your message.
You don't have to dress like a Bay Street lawyer, and your brochure doesn't have to
be glossy. Dressing comfortably, yet appropriately, is the key and the same holds
true for designing a brochure. You wouldn't wear black tie to a picnic, so why
design a brochure that's black tie when your target is chips and dip. Or vice versa.
The bottom line: a poor brochure, like an cheap outfit, will damage you more than it
will help; it's a waste of time and money, while a good brochure is your company's
representative, a reflection of you.
Keith Thirgood, Creative Director
Capstone Communications Group
Helping businesses get more business through innovative marketing
Markham, Ontario, Canada
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