How to avoid a "Frankenstein’s Monster" of a Brochure Design!

Frankenstein's Monster

Those of you that have read the about section of this site will have seen that I’ve worked at two London based design agencies in the past. When working at one agency we used to have a few sayings for different design-related happenings.
One of the things we used to talk about was called a “Frankenstein’s Monster”! No, we didn’t have a love of monster movies or Mary Shelley books (though they are classics), but were referring to projects that didn’t have a clear idea and were a mishmash of different ideas.
For example, we would be given a design brief with all the details of what was required in terms of type of imagery, possible colour palette, type of business, target market, the usual details. We would then work on the initial design concept, providing a sample cover and inside spread to give the client the general feel for the proposed brochure design.
This would then be presented to the client, now usually the client would choose a design route and provide feedback about what design elements were working.
BUT very occasionally the client would come back with lots of outlandish suggestions that would muddle and muddy the concept – they might want to pack more text into the design or add 2-3 more ill-advised ideas so it became an unclear concept or….. a “Frankenstein’s Monster”.
So this post is all about avoiding monstrously unsuccessful brochure design and should hopefully be useful to both clients wishing to brief brochure design work to a graphic designer or to designers themselves.
1. Have a clear concept in mind and stick to it, don’t panic and throw everything and the kitchen sink at it, otherwise, you’ll end up with an ineffective brochure design that doesn’t make sense.
2. Don’t include too much text, people just won’t read it and will be put off, try to keep to the key points and create areas of interest. Try to think about the amount you are prepared to read when you look through a brochure.
3. What is the purpose/reason for the brochure, obviously its to increase your sales, attract new customers to market a new product/service etc but what are you trying to achieve exactly?
4. Decide on your target market that you’re aiming the brochure at. It’s probably not appropriate to design a brochure for retirement flats aimed at over 65’s by using an urban graffiti style!
5. The cover should attract attention (though it does depend of the concept), this can be done in a number of ways and that doesn’t mean a garish shouty graphic, but something fitting with the concept that gives a taste of what’s inside but that makes the reader want to pick it up and find out more.
6. Copy/Text – very important this should be as short as possible but still communicating everything it needs to. People aren’t sitting down to read a novel but just want the general idea, if they are interested they will then contact for more information.
7. Size is important! Will the brochure be posted? Will it be picked up in bars/shops? The size of the brochure should be thought about. No use designing an A2 brochure if its going to be handed out in the street as people probably won’t want to carry it around and it will only make it as far as the nearest bin!
8. Consider the stock/paper the brochure will be printed on, there isn’t much sense in printing an expensive car brochure on stock that resembles toilet paper!
9. Proof reading, again very important part of the brochure design process. You don’t want to be in the position of having 50,000 brochures re-printed because the companies telephone number was incorrect.
Get the copy checked and triple checked before printing. it’s also important that its looked over by a few different people as it hard to proof read your own copy.
So, there are just a few points to help you to produce a successful brochure design, if you have other points which you think might help let me know and I’ll add them to the list above.

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