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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: Superior Health Spa Marketing Design

I just received a fourteen panel (seven on each side) marketing brochure that captures the essence of effective design with its graphic “look,” paper choice, and custom printing. I’d like to share with you why I consider this to be such a superior example of marketing design.

Overall Brochure Layout

The “Steamist” barrel-fold brochure starts its story on the front panel with a woman, eyes closed, relaxing and massaging her neck. At the top left of the page is the tagline, “Come home to your senses.” The Steamist logo is at the bottom right of the panel.

The design is simple, rendered in black and white with dramatic lighting (actually four-color black and white, to give the impression of a monochrome image while presumably extending the tonal range in the custom printing of the photos). The words are all caps in simple, thin sans serif type with generous leading between the lines and generous letterspacing between the letters. The type is reversed out of the black-to-gray background gradient. Your eye goes to the “come home to your senses” tagline first, then to the model’s face, then down her arms to the surprinted Steamist logo.

This panel works because it leads your eye from the top left to the bottom right, leaving you anxious to turn the page. It’s simple and effective. “Relax in luxury” is the message.

Effective Folds

When you open the first panel (and then each successive panel), you are presented with a tightly cropped photo on the left and then a three- or four-line message (one or two all-caps words per line) on the right. Each successive photo highlights one sense (taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sight), referencing music, fragrance, and luxury in the promotional text. The black and white photos distinguish the brochure from its peers in a direct marketing world of full-color images. The high-key lighting of the images and the deep shadows also create a sense of drama.

As you unfold each panel, you see the main text in silver. Below the all-cap heads, you can read brief paragraphs in small, reversed type. Then, as you open the wrap-fold brochure panel by panel, you see the logo repeated at the bottom of each right-hand page. This reinforces the branding.

Finally, as you open the brochure completely, you see a two-panel spread with a white background and small four-color images. This page spread gives you more information on the spa experience, but what makes it work is the contrast between the white editorial space on these two panels and the full-bleed images (or dark backgrounds with reversed text) on all the other panels. With the brochure completely unfolded, your gaze goes directly to the 4-color images and text on the far right, while the white background echos the highlights in the preceding photos of the model’s nose, hand, ear, mouth, and eye.

A single-page insert accompanies the brochure. At the top of the sheet, the same typeface as used in the brochure offers a rebate in large letters reversed out of a black-to-gray gradation. Below the gradation is a list of store locations and the logo again. The contrast between the multi-fold brochure and the single sheet of contact information creates a nice visual rhythm.

Paper Choice and Coating

The commercial printing paper seems to be a 100# coated text sheet augmented with alternating dull or gloss UV for contrast (gloss on the letter forms of the headlines, dull on the background black-to-gray gradations, and gloss on the images).

Why It Works

The entire marketing piece works for several reasons:

    1. The concept of experiencing the spa with the five senses lends itself to a multi-panel brochure illustrating each of the senses, and the design of the brochure makes the reader focus on each sense, one at a time (using both words and tightly cropped images).


    1. The graphic design and the folding lead the viewer from panel to panel. In all cases, it is clear where to look next. So there is a sense of rhythm and movement through the promotional piece.


  1. The thick commercial printing paper, subtle use of gloss and dull coatings in contrast with one another, and overall sophistication of the type choices, page layout, and color usage provide a consistent tone of luxury, sensuality, and relaxation.

What You Can Learn from this Brochure

    1. Think about the overall message when you’re designing a brochure. Make sure everything–from the layout grid to the typefaces to the color usage to the paper choice–is consistent with your marketing message.


    1. Do the unexpected. In a world of color, consider the sophistication of four-color black and white.


  1. Consider how you want the reader’s eye to travel through the brochure. Make sure the layout and the choice of folds facilitate—rather than impede—this eye movement.

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