The tri-fold brochure, also known as the letter-fold brochure, is the cornerstone of many marketing strategies, and for good reason: The tri-fold brochure works. Few direct-marketing materials can form as intimate a bond with prospective customers as the tri-fold brochure, not to mention that it is compact enough to easily carry yet spacious enough to point out all your key selling points. Like any printed marketing piece, your brochure's success is dependent on its content and design. Unfortunately, too many companies fall into the three-panel, three-point trap that makes many brochures seem virtually the same. This means the brochure as a whole is cumbersome in comparison with more creative designs that strike customers as different.
The following are a few tips for designing outstanding tri-fold brochures that make a statement:
One of the easiest ways to invigorate customers with a striking tri-fold brochure design is to stray from the traditional three-column approach, separated by the folds on the inside of the brochure. Instead, try using one column on the left, and combining the other two panels into one layout that incorporates a large image and a few paragraphs of information. You can also separate your design layout from top to bottom. For example, stick with the single column on the left and on the bottom halves of the other two columns, and use a single large image on the top of those last two columns. There are plenty of ways you can mashup your panels, and straying from the norm here is bound to help your company stand out from the crowd.
Some brochures use lines to separate ideas. You can take this to the next level by tying the lines into a theme. For instance, an electrician's brochure might incorporate electrical wires to separate information. You can also use boxes in any shape or size to corral key selling points and help them stand out. Perhaps the electrician would benefit from bulleting major benefits in a breaker box. Another example might be shaping an entire paragraph like a dog in a groomer's brochure. Play around with these ideas to come up with striking designs; and again, forget about the fold barriers here.
Front panel images
You've seen them before: the brochure front panels that have a logo and some contact information, perhaps a tagline. Forget that. Use striking on-the-job images that truly characterize your company and emphasize key benefits. Which would have more impact on a charitable aid organization's tri-fold brochure: the organization's logo or an image of a scarred and dirty hand reaching out to help a fallen child off the ground? Used in conjunction with a bold headline, the latter example will certainly garner more attention and ultimately result in a better response. Keep in mind that the goal here is to intrigue prospects to open the brochure.
This should go without saying; however, it needs to be said: Colorful design grab attention. This doesn't mean you have to use all the colors of the spectrum, but try to use bright, vivid colors whenever possible. Even in industries like finances and investments where dull, stable colors seem to be the norm, recent trends have favored bright colors to attract interest. After all, customers are more likely to respond when they feel comfortable than when they feel like they're being condescended to. Experiment with off-hues and their complementary matches on the color wheel to come up with invigorating designs that make customers feel jubilant about your offer.
Tri-fold brochures might be the cornerstone of many marketing campaigns, but that doesn't mean they all have to look the same. Remember that outstanding design equals outstanding rate of return.