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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: Pairing Good Page-Design with Soft Paper

I’ve always been interested in the stock market. It seems that when you identify a successful company, not only the financials and stock price but even the building design and marketing collateral scream quality. I include both Chipotle and Whole Foods Market in this category, probably because they’re local and I eat there. To me they are real, not just numbers on a computer screen.

The Sample Brochure

My fiancee and I stopped by Whole Foods for ice cream and bagels the other day. Whenever we enter Whole Foods, I always take note of the environmental design (colors, lighting, signage), the package design, and the print collateral. I always learn something, because this company clearly understands branding.

In this particular case both my fiancee and I were immediately attracted to a beauty-care product brochure. Here are some of the things I think Whole Foods marketing got absolutely right:


The four-page, 8.5” x 11” brochure was printed on bright-white uncoated stock. My fiancee thought the paper was coated, and it is in fact very smooth, but under a loupe I only see a sheen where the ink has been laid down.

Whole Foods positions itself as both health conscious and environmentally aware. Commercial printing paper choice works a subtle magic on the reader. A bright white sheet reflects back a lot of light and brightens up the colors. At the same time, an uncoated paper both softens the colors printed on its surface and also gives a more approachable “feel” to a design piece. It also suggests lower costs (whether or not this is true) and environmental sensitivity. And it feels less corporate. All of this supports Whole Foods’ stated mission.

Exterior Page Design

Greens and browns, as well as the yellow of sunlight, continue this environmental feel. On the cover of the four-page brochure you see the back of a woman’s head. She has long, curly hair, and she is holding a puff ball, presumably preparing to blow its seeds across the grass so new dandelions will grow in abundance. Behind her head in the top left corner, the sun brightens not only the sky, but also the trees in the background and her abundant curls.

What is exciting about the sunlight and its golden colors is that it seems brighter than anything else on the page. However, if you fold over the interior page to compare the bright white shade of the commercial printing paper to the printed sunlight, you will see that it only appears to be brighter due to its contrast with the surrounding elements on the page.

(That is, nothing can be brighter than the paper white of the press sheet; however, a savvy designer can make the reader see a hot, blinding sun on the cover of this brochure. In fact, if you look at the smaller type in the right-hand corner, as well as the even smaller Whole Foods logo—both reversed to pure white—you’ll see that the sun in the sky and the highlights on the woman’s curly hair are actually darker than the type and therefore only a well-crafted illusion of blinding light.)

Interior Brochure Design

Inside the four-page brochure, the headlines seem to be hand drawn. This makes for an approachable design when paired with products strewn around the two-page spread, some bleeding off the page. Most colors are earth tones, reinforcing the color scheme on the cover, although there are bright greens, oranges, reds, and yellows as well.

The designer has set all body copy in a simple, sans serif typeface, in contiguous columns grouped toward the center of the spread. The products lay casually toward the outside margins, interspersed with sprigs of rosemary, leaves, and botanical flowers to add contrast and continue the natural tone of the piece.

The back page continues the casual design and color scheme, adding a coupon to the mix (a “response vehicle” to facilitate “conversion”). That is, Whole Foods shows the products to be healthy, beauty enhancing, natural, and environmentally friendly through the designer’s choice of color, typefaces, and the design grid, and then makes the initial purchase easy and affordable with the discount.

One thing that puts this particular brochure over the top is its utility. On two of the four panels it educates the reader as well as selling the product. One article provides pointers on how to color your hair, while another gives you a recipe for a hydrating hair mask, including silhouetted photos of each ingredient.

The Verdict

Whole Foods knocks it out of the park with this brochure. Then again, I’m not surprised, since it fits in beautifully with the large format print signage in the store, the lighting and paint color palettes of the interior design, and the product packaging. Clearly the marketing department understands design, sales, psychology, and finance. It’s gratifying just to see this.

4 Responses to “Brochure Printing: Pairing Good Page-Design with Soft Paper”

  1. Alex says:

    It is clear that what they have done well with this printing is that they have covered all bases. The design, the finish, the print, the content. No stone is unturned. They have clearly put a great deal of effort in. A good print supplier should make sure that you also cover everything.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment. Agreed. Finding a printed product in which the design, the finish, the print, and the content all work in tandem is not an everyday occurrence. That’s why I always look for exceptional work, and when I find it, I try to deconstruct the piece and learn from it. I try to articulate, for myself, exactly what the goal of the printed product is and how both the designer and the printer have achieved this goal–taking into account all the components, from copy to design to materials to print technology..

  2. Jordan says:

    Great points here. It’s really important to go into what makes a good brochure design. Thanks for sharing your insight on this!

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment. I believe that everything from a business card to a brochure is really an ad for your business, so it pays to take the time and spend the money to make a good first impression.


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