How to Blend Creativity with Practicality in Brochure Design

Designing for print, though playing second fiddle to web design these days, is still a very lucrative field of work for graphic designers. And, in some ways, it provides more freedom in terms of creativity than web design, because you can always get creative not just with the graphic part, but also with the materials it will be printed on.

Brochures play a great role in marketing, branding and client loyalty building. They are not a catalog and not a company profile. They are not meant to pitch sales, but should create the desire to buy. It is in brochure design that a graphic designer can really prove his skills and let his creative side run free.

Here are a few thoughts on designing brochures that never fail to impress and express the client’s message.

Shapes and Materials

This is the first thing to consider, because you will be shaping your design around these elements. Can you get creative with cut-outs, 3D geometrical shapes popping open in the middle of the page? Will the cover resemble a briefcase (pop button to open)?


What type of paper would you recommend? Embossed? Textured? Rough or smooth edges? 3D Letters embossed on the cover? Smooth or matte paper? All these choices will influence your actual design work. If you recommend richly textured paper (resembling marble, or parchment) you must tone down your color palette and the intricacies of lines and shapes. Otherwise, the printed page will look “busy” and tiring for the eye.


Simplicity Wins

Do not overdo it, either in terms of creative plying, cut-outs, or in your actual design work. People will get puzzled if every other page is a fold-out, or if they encounter too much graphic and too little text. They will probably like the visuals, but they will not grasp the final message of the brochure. This is a big fail, sacrificing purpose for looks and style.


A simple and creative design technique is to use a clean and modern typeface and complement it by one single distinctive element – either integrate it into the graphic work or embossing it on the paper – but never mixing two or more techniques. You do not have to showcase all your skills in one brochure design, but choose what creates the biggest impact.


Get Creative with Typography

We discussed typeface just above and we want to add more advice on this issue. You can take the most important statement in the brochure – the slogan, the mission statement, the call to action – and turn it into an amazing blend between typography and design. A very powerful way of communicating an idea is by blending text with imagery. Consider reversing out the text through a photo. In the example below, you can see that both the text and the photo can be perceived well and convey the message in a very distinctive and direct manner.


Make It Small

Think big in small shapes. Brochures are meant to be stuffed in a pocket, in a briefcase and not be in the way when you look for your car keys or smartphone. Once again, this is not a catalog, you do not think in terms of A4 paper size, but rather handheld, notebook size. People will not keep a large and bulky brochure for long. The moment it gets inconvenient, they will toss it in the next trash can.


Plus, as the saying goes, great things come in small packaging. Remember the rage of the mini-CD when it was first available to share promotional materials on it. Or the new rage causes by the paper USB which can be folded from a brochure cover, inserted in the computer to read further informative materials.


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Ionut B
Digital Art Director with an innovative creative thinking able to translate ideas and concepts into useful and memorable interactive marketing campaigns.

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