e-idea file



Folding Options: Pluses and Minuses

We often get asked what strategy a customer should use when designing the fold of a brochure. The way we see it, there is no right answer; rather the creative needs to drive the decision. Here are a few marketing and creative ideas that should drive your decision on folding, and Visions, Inc. stands ready to help you with whatever design best fits your strategy.



We think of the letter-fold/roll-up fold as the "one-two-three" option. This option, aka the three-panel (or however many panel) brochure works best when you have a strong question you are posing on the visual, with the answer/call-to-action appearing on the right panel once you open the brochure. Finally, the more complete story can appear once the brochure is entirely unfolded across the three consecutive panels on the inside.

If there is a drawback to the letter-fold, it is that the cover panel needs to be compelling to draw the reader in. A really strong image and/or question needs to motivate the reader to take the next step.



The gate-fold is a great option for creating a design that has features a compelling, graphical set of information. Think of the gate-fold as also featuring three levels of information: A compelling cover, a two-page call-to-action with the first unfold, and then four panels to tell your story once completely unfolded. Consider using it when there is a lot of information to convey, as in a multiple product comparison or a long, organized list of options.

Of course, the gate-fold option may increase cost slightly since the flat-size of the gate-fold brochure is larger than a typical half-fold or letter-fold.



Z-folds unfold naturally in the reader's hands, making this format perfect for charts, maps, large graphics or photographs, or even a map or directions. Try using large text that requires the reader to open the brochure to see what it says.

While z-folds can have a strong impact, once again your cover better be compelling because you have only one shot to draw the reader in.



Half-folds give you many options. Consider using a half-fold for a product guide, since the larger panel size can mean a stronger area for displaying a product shot without a fold appearing in the middle of that larger image. You can also rely on a half-fold for side-by-side product comparisons, as the two panels on the inside can naturally accommodate this need. Finally, they are also useful for any information that needs to be listed, such as a menu-style brochure of food dishes.

Because half-fold brochures are wider than the others, they can grab the reader's attention with a larger image. Their size, however, may not fit in brochure racks that accommodate visitors and tourists, where the rack may be designed for a three-fold size. This characteristic may also increase the mailing cost, however, because a typical half-fold brochure may not fit into a standard #10 envelope. Consider designing your brochure as a self-mailer for this option.

Feel free to call Visions, Inc. to brainstorm on your design options when creating your brochure. We'd be happy to help!

Ingredients of a Great Brochure

While there are many uses for a brochure, their purpose is plain: to increase sales, to entice customers to act on a call-to-action, to get folks to take the next step. Here are some critical ingredients to include when whipping together your next brochure.


Compelling Visuals

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, and these days getting the customer to read those thousand words may be more difficult than ever! With strong graphics or photos, you can quickly tell your story, convey your benefits and communicate your call-to-action in ways that text alone will never accomplish.


Gotta-Read-More Headline

Your headline should grab the reader's attention either through a compelling offer, a strong, you-can't-do-without benefit, or an this-is-really-news announcement. Combined with great graphics, the headline is what pulls the reader into your brochure.


Act-Now Offer

Give the reader a reason to take the next step. Consider an act-now price break, a free guide or whitepaper that drills down into the subject, or an interactive calculator that determines ROI. The offer should compel the reader to take whatever you want the next step to be. Make sure your offer is prominent, like in a call-out that is larger or bolder text, or in the first paragraph of your copy. Of course, color is a great way to make the offer stand out.


Features to Define the Benefits

Don't fall into the trap of droning on about all of the nice features of your product or service. Rather, highlight the key benefits that the reader will enjoy because of a given feature or set of features. Remember, features are all about you, while benefits are what is in it for him or for her.



What is the next step you want the reader to take? Filling out an on-line form, perhaps via a form that features a personalized URL? Making a purchase? Requesting more information? Using an on-line calculator to determine ROI? Coming to the retail store for a big sale or seasonal product introduction? Make sure you know exactly what you are looking for in terms of the one key action that you want the reader to take, and make sure your offer compels them to take that action. Don't try to accomplish too much; it just waters down your message.


Ice It with Printing and Finishing

Let's face it: The better the quality of your brochure's design and printing, the better the reflection on you. Consider using full color, great visuals, and to protect your brochure, a varnish or UV coating. That will keep your message free from scratches or scuffs that may occur if it is mailed, for example. Visions, Inc. stands ready to help you, whether it is conceptualization, content review, or of course printing!


return to e-idea file article list