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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Brochure Printing: Design Tools to Help Position Your Brand

Think of your next brochure printing run as an advertisement. Everything you design and print is really an ad because it presents your company, or your client’s company, in a certain positive light. The paper choice, typeface, choice of colors, even the way you fold the brochure, all say something about the values and goals of the company. When potential clients pick up the brochure, they either like it or they don’t. If they like it, they read further and ask themselves, “What’s in it for me.”

Look closely at the design of brochure printing samples you like.

You have a blank page before you, or on a computer you have a blank screen. Where do you start? One way to approach this task is to collect samples of previously designed brochures from the company that will use the final printed job. After all, a reader should be able to identify the company by seeing the similarity among all printed collateral from that company. There should be a visual congruence when you look at the company’s identity package, marketing collateral, and even publications such as newsletters, books, magazines, and directories.

Address these six critical elements while designing the brochure printing job.

With printed samples in hand, you can begin to deconstruct the design of those that appeal to you the most. Consider these variables:

  1. What kinds of images are used? Are they photos, illustrations? Are the images presented in black and white, full color, perhaps as duotones (two colors)? How would you describe the subject of the images, and their tone or feel? Are they images of people or things? Are they cropped very tightly, or is there ample space around the subjects of the photos?
  2. What kinds of typefaces are used (hopefully just one or two, to keep things simple)? Are they serif fonts (with tails on the letterforms: easier on the eyes for reading lots of copy)? Are they sans serif fonts (with no tails on the letterforms)? How would you describe the overall tone of the type? Playful? Serious? Upscale and trendy?
  3. How is color used in the brochures you like? Are the photos full-color? Are spot colors (PMS colors) used to highlight type?
  4. What kind of paper was chosen for the brochures you like: coated, uncoated, perhaps a tinted sheet like a cream paper stock?
  5. How does your eye travel around the brochure. Think about where it goes first when the brochure is open on the table. Maybe your eye goes to the photos first, or maybe the headlines. Notice how spot color leads the eye around the page. Notice how even the direction people in the photos are leaning, or where they are looking, influences how your eye moves around the page.
  6. Now close up the brochure. Look at how it is folded. A brochure can be wrap folded (around and around, as though it were wrapped up panel over panel). Or it can be folded in a zig-zag pattern (called an accordion fold). It can even be folded in half and then in half again (double parallel fold). At its simplest level, even a flat flyer is a brochure, of sorts. You just put all of the information on the flat sheet, with no folding—just like an ad in a magazine.

How to get from a blank computer screen to a finished color brochure printing job

Becoming comfortable with design, and even becoming good at it, takes time. More than likely you will start with some bumps in the road. But as with most other skills, the best way to learn something is to look at what has been successful for others and then try to understand why. Then you can incorporate the same elements into your own work. So to recap, this is how I’d suggest that you approach your next color brochure printing project:

  • Review relevant samples of the company’s brochures and other collateral to grasp the overall visual “look” and feel of the company.
  • Consider the elements of design: paper weight, surface, and texture; typefaces; color usage; treatment of images; design grid; and folding.
  • Do something. Starting with a blank computer screen in InDesign or Quark, set up a grid with the proper number of panels, front and back. Place an image or two, import the text into the file, and start testing typefaces and point sizes. Experiment. Don’t censor yourself. Play a bit.
  • Print out laser proofs and compare your various attempts to the printed copies you collected and liked. Make changes (even if you mark up the proofs with a pen as you get ideas), and print out revised laser proofs. Show them to other people in the office, and get feedback. Revise as necessary.
  • When you get stuck or frustrated, go back to the building blocks of a successful brochure: consider the typefaces, design grid or structure, treatment of photos, paper choice, and folding.

Color brochure printing is something almost all printing companies can do for you, regardless of their equipment. Think about whether you will need a printer with digital equipment for your brochure printing run (if you will need fewer that 300-500 copies), or offset printing capabilities for longer brochure print runs.

5 Responses to “Brochure Printing: Design Tools to Help Position Your Brand”

  1. John Smith says:

    This blog is really very useful. A great help for the printing industry. Good work done. Thanks for the post!

  2. Brochures are great for menus, handouts and advertising products and services with different types of folds creating different number of panels to portray your company the way you like.

    • admin says:

      Agreed. I think that every piece of printed material you distribute is an advertisement for your company. So it’s prudent to make the most of the opportunity.

  3. Excellent website. Plenty of useful information here. I’m sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your sweat!


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