When a client comes to me stating, “We need a brochure” I don’t immediately imagine about what their brochure will look like, instead I counter their request with questions. Such as: “Do you really need a brochure? How will you use it, internally, externally or both, how often and where? Who is the brochure for, your customers, your partners or other stakeholders? How long will you be using this brochure, i.e. what sort of shelf life do you want this piece to have?
In a world gone digital and increasing ways to reach a target audience, plus companies continually looking for ways to go paperless, the question “Do you really need a brochure?” is even more pertinent. On the flip side, digital printing technologies are increasingly better — in quality, paper choices and cost. That said, a brochure can be your best friend in face-to-face interactions (think trade shows). If a brochure contains informative goodies for customers, it could serve as a mailed value-added freebie “thank-you” when customers subscribe to your e-newsletter, for example.
If answers to “we need a brochure” are strategic, reasonable and timely, then what “this brochure will look like” begins to surface, as it relates to the client’s brand, how it will be used and distributed, and the best design strategy to tell their story to their audience in an engaging way.
A Brochure By Any Other Name Would Fold Just As Sweet
And Now for a Story of a Rather Cool Little Brochure Project
When the only professional marcom organization in Minnesota, MWMC said, “We need a brochure,” and knowing this organization well, I knew a standard, tried-but-boring “trifold” wasn’t going to cut it. Going through the questions I pose clients about brochures, MWMC’s answers breaks down to this:
Do you really need a brochure? Yes. We want a marketing tool that tells our story in an engaging way, a keeper, something people will want to hold on to or want to share with other women in the marcom industry.
How will you use it, how often and where? We’ll have it on hand as a take-away at networking events and workshops, new members’ orientations and joint-hosted events, so we’ll be using it a lot within in face-to-face scenarios.
Who is this brochure for? It’s for our members to have a way to share our story, for potential members — women in marketing and communications careers looking for an organization that supports their career, professional development. We want a brochure that emotionally connects and resonates with marketing communications professionals.
Shelf life: Given MWMC has under gone new branding, value propositioning, and has dug deep in evaluating its strengths, offerings and benefits to members, it’s safe to say this brochure will be with them for at least a year or more.
Brochure Design Strategy: MWMC’s new logo is a mosaic design build simply with squares — it felt right that the finished folded size of the brochure should be square, to mirror its identity. Looking to make its new logo stand and be recognized on its own, I chose to have just the logo mark on the cover, no name, no words. Simple. Just makes you want to open it.
MWMC has defined a number of tangible benefits and environmental benefits it offers its members to highlight. A way to make these memorable, I featured each benefit as one thought, told not just with words, (typography), but neatly paired with imagery that works with MWMC’s branding. I also wanted the space for each set of benefits (tangible and environmental) to stand on its own, but collectively create a cohesive piece.
The Results: An eight panel, two sided, accordion folded brochure, smartly sized and folded to 4 x 4 inches — not big or unwieldy, but just the right size to tuck into one’s bag. When it unfolds, the brochure becomes a bright “picture book,” telling who and what MWMC is and has to offer. Perfect to string open and post on one’s cubical wall or office shelf. Overall, the response to the brochure has been positive and engaging, confirming MWWC’s value to its members and potential members alike.
Pardon my iPhone photo quality, but you get the idea.
Press Notes: Finding a printer with a press and sheet size long enough to print a 32” long brochure would be a challenge, (I’ve run into this obstacle before), but wasn’t daunted. We found Dunn & Semington could do the job and within the budget. Other concerns were the many folds would lead to a too-thick-of-a-brochure-to-stay-folded properly and wanting a paper stock thick enough so the ink from the reverse side wouldn’t show through. Dunn & Semington suggested a 60 lb. bright white cover stock that solved both issues while letting the bright images “pop.”