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    8 Replies Latest reply on Apr 14, 2008 2:58 PM by iMicrobrand

    Creating a Company Brochure?

    ibranz Wayfarer
      March 10, 2008

      Recently I helped a business with their company brochure. They began the process by adding content centered on features and benefits and filling the gray areas with related pictures. By the time I reviewed the piece, the number of messages and images contained in a small tri-fold were overwhelming.

      During my initial discussion with the proprietor, we stepped-back from the piece and considered the overall strategy. In my experience, marketing folks tend to "jump" into the creative aspect of the assignment and leave the plan out of the process. This is true with professionally staffed medium to large organizations as well! Why is this the case?

      The allure of a creative process is more appealing than the strategic planning process. When building a house, you obviously start with a blue-print before picking up a hammer. When creating a company brochure, the approach should follow the same steps. Many firms believe you'll squash any brilliant ideas by being too pragmatic. The tendency, therefore, promotes brainstorming in lieu of any planning.

      May we suggest you begin the process with your targeted audience and work your way back to the delivery medium. This is called "outside-in" thinking. In simple terms, list the desires of that group and what problems they are trying to solve. Once your basic message has been sorted out, keep the remaining content on target. If you use pictures or images, make sure they support the core message. A simple rule to follow - every word and image should support one significant Value Proposition.

      A value proposition? Yes. What value can you deliver better than your competitors. Why are you different. Why is that important to your target audience. Remember - people are trying to solve problems everyday and if your message is unclear or confusing, they will move on to one that isn't.

      Once last comment - Sony owned the music player market with the Walkman during the 1990's. They didn't realize the problems faced by carrying around CD's, handling, or practical use on a daily basis. Music hard drives were around long before iPod came onto the scene. May I suggest that Apple considered the problems of mobile music and build an offering to solve those issues (compact, easy to use, connects with iTunes music store, cool design, etc.)

      What does iPod and your brochure have in common? Understand your audience first and build a business around their issues. Create a strategy to communicate in their terms and language. Next, articulate your solution in a clean and clear medium. Finally, be sure to deliver on that promise you made.
        • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
          Iwrite Pioneer
          ibranz, Nice post!

          The really great thing about what you have said is that it can and should apply to all aspects of a business' marketing efforts. Websites are a form of a brochure, it is an opportunity to get your message out, to make a sale and to build a relationship. Everything a business would think about before creating a brochure needs to be thought out when creating a website or a tv spot or radio or direct mail - the media may change but the message is still important.

          The better you understand your customers the more you will sell. But I'm preaching to the choir.

          • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
            LUCKIEST Guide
            Thank you for the great story, Creating a Company Brochure.
            It is Marketing that sells. That is why SCORE
            talks about a Business and Marketing Plan together.
            **Your final statement " be sure to deliver on that promise you made"
            separates the successful great from the good.
            • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              Thanks for the tips and examples! I'm not sure where the following model originally came from, but as far as writing content for three-fold brochures, I work to four "C's" -- Clarity, Connection, Compliance, and Commitment.

              Most people look at a three-fold in four segments -- (1) front panel, (2) first two inner panels (back side of the front panel and the facing panel), (3) next two inner panels (when you open the facing panel), and (4) back panel.

              My writing goal for the front panel is clarity. It announces the basic who, what, when, and where info -- and provides the immediate relevance that will prompt the reader to keep it (or pass it to someone else) instead of throwing it away. It's sort of like a book cover.

              My writing goal for the first two inner panels is connection. It gives the compelling reasons to do whatever the brochure is promoting by showing that it's in the reader's interest, that other people like the reader have been or will be involved, etc.

              My writing goal for the next two inner panels is compliance. It provides the detail to show those who are still on the fence (and therefore still reading) why this is the "right" thing and that it's being done the "right" way (consistent with their values and standards).

              My writing goal for the back panel is commitment. It "closes the deal," makes a call to action, and provides a response mechanism for following through.

              Using these four "C's" lets me organize my content so that instead of trying to say everything, I'm focusing on how to best say the one thing that needs to be said in that particular section (hopefully the same thing the graphic designer is trying to say). It has also made me a better editor, because I'm more willing to rewrite or "sacrifice" my words when a style or graphic element better achieves the same objective.

              Maybe this technique (along with the process you described) will help other writers of brochure content. Thanks again for the post!

              • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
                iMicrobrand Adventurer

                The unspoken truth? IOf I can add to this discussion - coming from the design industry as a Designer and Communicator, and perhaps what I am about to say is a bit futuristic but I am going to jump off the ledge anyway (I think I have a parachute...).. Anyhoo..

                One word that I use often can solve all of the brochure problems in a flash... This is not deep - but here it goes....


                Wow right? In today's market people have more access to more data than ever before - there are literally hundreds of messages that we get from day to day that simply bombard our minds with data. The more complex the brochure the greater chance of it being ignored. Analogy... You just ate TWO (not one) Subway Sandwiches and you are stuffed to the max and I hand you a Big Mac. What's the chances of you eating it? Time, your most precious commodity, about 60% (if not more) of your audience is probably in "Time Debt" - so you have to deliver your message NOW in a clear and concise manner... Someone mentioned the iPod... WOW! How much more to the point can you get with the Black Sleek brochures that you get? Sensory perception - can't forget this part huh? Martin Lindstrom ( is the world's leading Evangelist on Sensory Branding, and 5D branding... BUT you are saying.. "Okay Vince, you are going too far now..." Am I? Really? Think about it - we have access to marketing tools like never before and how come the brochure does not extend a sensory experience? Expensive? Yep - could be.. Worth it? Definitely. Links to YouTube, sheeez "scratch and sniff" in the brochures? Now that's an idea right?

                To make a long story short... Creativity can never be overlooked, structure - can never be over looked, ingenuity , well... This is a MUST! To really create a brochure that has a true value proposition... It should extend some type of a experience. This will also help in keeping it from becoming part of the floor mat in a Toyota Corolla.

                Vincent A. Hunt
                  • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
                    Lighthouse24 Ranger
                    Excellent points, iMicrobrand, especially for a small business that uses brochures or similar pieces as "cold calling" instruments, and/or where the sales piece alone has to "close" the deal.

                    Sometimes, however, a brochure is just a brochure. In our case, a client who picks up or requests a brochure is already "sold" on the brand, and is evidently "hungry" for more info about a specific product or service we offer. The purpose of the applicable piece is to communicate key details that allow the client to quickly decide "I might need this" or "I don't need this." (Our graphic designer can explore the limits of her creative genius on something else.)
                      • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
                        puzzleman Tracker
                        Lighthouse, I agree with you. My brochure is used a tool to remind or show the customer what else we do. My brochure is 1 sheet with pics of products, basic info about each, what sets us apart from the competition and how to get in touch with us through our website or phone.

                        I hand these to people who are interested in my products at art and craft shows as well as include them with each order shipped out. My feeling on putting them with the product, is that when the recipient (most of the time they are not the person who ordered) they will see the quality of what I do, see what else I can do and place an order.

                        My point is to use the KISS principle. I want my flyer to be simple to read and understand. I don't need to impress them with my flyer, that's what my products do.

                      • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
                        Iwrite Pioneer

                        I so agree with you!

                        But how simple is it to peel back all the levels and get to the core message that resonates with people? Finding or understanding the benefit your product or service offers to customers is not always easy. It requires being honest with yourself about yourself. Being objective about your business, products or services isn't always easy.

                        I work with an art director that makes creating beautiful and impactful advertising look simple, but that is where the true art comes in. Making something look simple isn't always easy. I will write a headline or some body copy and clients think it was easy for me, but it isn't - it is just that I have been doing it so long that I make it look easy, sometimes. LOL

                        I have read a lot of comments on this forum about advertising that doesn't work, doesn't deliver, but it might be that a great message is lost in bad design and bad copy. The logo is seldom more important than the message, it doesn't really need to be that big to be recognized. And mentioning your name every time in body copy instead of using pronouns insults the readers intelligence, most people know who is speaking. It is not the way people talk, it creates a feeling of something unnatural.

                        I'll stop now.
                          • Re: Creating a Company Brochure?
                            iMicrobrand Adventurer
                            Back at you iWrite!!

                            I do agree! Doing great creative work is a LOT harder than it looks! Wow... You hit on something that the creative culture never really articulates. For instance - when I was heavy in the actual graphic work behind a project the client never saw the 20 showers, 10 walks, 50 layouts, all 100 color combinations, 75+ Typography selections, that went into the creative work, and let's not mention the countless hours of the "peeling back" process you mentioned (nice choice of words as well..).

                            Land of the lost... Yep - you are 100% correct... The logo (or iconic representation of the brand) is rather organic in nature. Some believe that if they make the logo as big as possible on an ad piece the greater the chances of it being remembered, but this is quite the opposite most of the time... I had a Senior Creative Director tell me a story one day.. went something like this...

                            Guy walks into a business looking to buy a copier. There was a small petite lady wearing glasses standing behind the counter. As the guy approaches the lady to ask about the copiers, the lady pleasantly greets him and begins in a subtle yet straight forward voice, telling him about the copiers. The Guy was drawn in by her knowledge, and her elegant approach to the information, and by standing there for 30 seconds he felt like an absolute expert because of the precision by which this lady delivered to him. Then all of a sudden a man pops up out of nowhere, I mean jumps up like a "Jack In The Box" and starts holding up a big poster board with the words "Copier" stenciled neatly on it. The lady kept rolling along with data, and all of a sudden the Guy was so distracted that he simply said, never mind, and walked away...

                            The Lady was your elegant easy flowing copy - and the man with the Poster Board was the Big distracting logo...

                            Sometimes we can get so sidetracked by how much we can put on the brochure - by just how many times we can staple the logo to it (in hopes of ummm - brand recognition?" ) that we totally lose our audience. Reverse engineer your delivery, think about how many times you read a Website from back to front, or totally read a brochure cover to cover... Fact is we don't do it. Naturally we grab the brochure, which extends an experience so compelling that we want to gather more information, THIS is when the lady with the glasses behind the counter BLOWS their socks off.

                            Just my 0.02USD

                            Vincent A. Hunt