Exceptional financial services brochure in 6 steps

exceptional brochure design

Heather Brown

Creative Artworker

Posted on February 7, 2016

We think it’s time for corporate companies to get a little more creative with their brochure design. Brochures don’t always need to conform to the usual bog-standard format. Why not create something different? Something exceptional. Even if you’re just producing a financial services report, by making the cover something special, more people will pick it up and remember it.

The trick to an exceptional financial brochure design is to consider the entire process: design, content, photography, paper stock, paper finishes, target market and mailing.

Thinking it through at the start can make all the difference to the outcome, and make it a far more enjoyable task. It’s no surprise, then, what’s no.1 on my workflow.

1. Project manage your design

Good project management involves asking the right questions. Here’s some to work through with your client:

  • What’s their primary objective for this brochure – why do they think they need a brochure?
  • If it’s replacing an old version, what didn’t work well in the last brochure that we could improve on, or are they going with a whole new concept and design?
  • Will it be a one-off or a publication series for wider release?
  • Does the client have company brand guidelines which you need to follow?
  • What paper stock would look best – matt, silk or gloss? Or perhaps they’d like to go green and have it printed on recyclable paper? What paper finishes could you use?
  • Does it have to conform to a usual A4 size or can it be a different shape or size?
  • Will the brochure be available as a downloadable pdf? If so, then keep it simple: A4 size with lots of white space works best and is the most printer friendly.
  • Will it be mailed, or a leave-behind at a meeting or event?
  • Will you use elements from this brochure in other items or on your social media sites?

It’s then time to bring all these aspects together into an achievable plan. Are their expectations realistic within their budget and timeframe? If not, now’s the time to be honest and offer alternatives.

2. Design for your clients

When designing a brochure, keep its purpose at the front of your mind. Consider the target market, too. If you’re creating a financial brochure for the over 60s, small print and imagery showing youngsters in their 20s is not going to work. The brochure has to look appealing to the person who will pick it up, not just you.

Stay true to the client’s brief, but committed to quality and workability. If a helpful client sends over something they knocked up in PowerPoint, you need to take their input on board, but it doesn’t mean the end result needs to look as they’ve envisioned. Forget the starbursts, the eclectic colour palettes and the out-dated images – use your skill and keep it stylish and simple.

With all that said, designing for the financial market doesn’t need to be boring. There’s always scope to use thought-provoking imagery, well-designed graphs, eye-catching infographics and, most importantly, exceptional copy that will keep a reader engaged. Have a look at Canva’s Design School for a wealth of design ideas to inspire you.

3. Perfect your copy

Well-written copy is crucial to your brochure but all too often it’s the element that gets overlooked. There’s nothing worse than a brochure that looks great but is badly let down by dull, poorly written content.

If your copy needs updating, rework it, and get it proofread by someone else. And don’t forget those all-important headlines: it’s exceptional headlines that will draw a reader in, so don’t throw in the first thing you think of as an afterthought.

If you and your team struggle with copywriting, it’s well worth producing a copywriting style guide, or better still, invest in an excellent copywriter, to put their skill and experience to work on your behalf.

4. Consider your typography

Brochures designed to reflect a corporate identity often need to use a branded package of pre-approved fonts, but if you have got free reign, keep it simple.

Define your fonts and font sizes to use in headings, subheadings, body copy, small print, and quotes. Two font families used together work best: for example, a serif font for headings and sans serifs for body copy – sans serif fonts work especially well for copy-heavy brochures like reports and accounts. Make sure you understand typography rules and uses to keep things looking neat and professional.

Design some copy layouts when using new fonts that show your different ideas so the client can have a better understanding how it will all work together. And if the client doesn’t have any corporate typography established, get them to consider having a brand identity set up to make sure all publications have a consistent look.

5. Dull imagery or exceptional imagery

If you’re working to brand guidelines, again, you might be limited to using a brand’s image library, or restricted to a style choice of images. Having carte blanche to create and cherry-pick any image you choose would be great, but when you’re working to a tight budget and can’t afford a photographer, think about using stock imagery. There are some excellent stock image libraries out there but steer clear of fake, staged shots. We’ve published a guide to using stock imagery that should help.

Beautiful, quality images in a brochure are often what gives it that instant wow factor so don’t be tempted to cut corners. Even one bad or poorly-considered image could ruin the whole thing.

6. If something works, then keep it

When you’re full of energy and inspiration, it can be easy to get carried away and change too much. If your current corporate colours are working well, then keep them, or just add a few new ones and freshen up the layout. For financial services sector brochures, for example, you could introduce subtle new colour themes simply by using different colours for plans, products or market publications.

Instead of lots of new imagery, why not incorporate well-designed infographic elements into your brochure? Infographics are value-rich resources to have in your library; allowing you to also use them on social media sites where character space is limited.

These six tips should take you a long way towards livening up your brochure design. The rest is up to you.

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