The Tight Budget Series: The Brochure

I’ve noticed that business is picking up, cautiously. Clients are researching, pricing, and asking how they can keep their costs within a budget. Often it’s a tight budget. So, the following series of blogs are meant to help businesses understand the design process and find ways to stay within the mark.

This Week: Understanding the Brochure

I routinely tell clients who call for an estimate that the first brochure takes 8-12 hours. It never fails to surprise people. Most brochures generally fall between 8-10, but I always add the extra couple of hours to account for clients who make a large number of changes.

But that estimate is for the first brochure. And the first one only. All others aren’t even half of that time if the same layout is used, especially if I’m not doing the image research.

The Upfront Investment: The Brand Template.

The identity/brand template work is done on the first brochure. The layout and ratio guides created, fonts and paragraph styles defined, colour formulas entered, and company standards studied. This stage alone takes 3-4 hours. With this system I simply use all the styles and colours in future templates avoiding the hassle on my end and billable hours on the client end.  I think of this portion as the client’s identity/brand investment. A cost up front that saves a good deal of money for ALL future projects. (Brochures after take 3-4 hours without image research. )
Budget Tip: If you are considering doing a series of brochures, discuss this with your designer and work out a deal. A guaranteed amount of work in exchange for a discount or payment plan is worth discussing.

The 6 Considerations

The brochure on the surface is a simple item. Clients usually think of  a brochure as written content combined with images, the logo and contact information. Place them in a trifold layout and off you go.

When I look at a brochure, as a designer I think:

  1. Does this client have an established brand?
    If so, I need to get access to their brand standards (fonts, colours, logos, layouts, etc)
    If not, have they produced brochures before, or do they have current materials I need to mimic? Do they have all their logo files and colours used previously?
    Timer Saver Tip: Compile in a folder your identity material. Your logos (in ai. or eps.), your standards if you have them, your packaged fonts, any affiliate logos, disclaimers, etc)
  2. Do they have their brochure content written, proofed, and if applicable – approved by marketing? This stage can double the budget and timeline if you haven’t completed it and make numerous changes, and/or if you need a copywriter.
    Budget Tip: If you hire a copywriter, discuss your budget in advance. They will be able to give you a clear outline of what would be included. If you don’t use a copywriter, make sure you keep your content clear, to the point and have at least three people proof read it. Make sure one of them is a picky person who enjoys finding all those tiny spelling and grammar errors to save you costly changes later.
  3. Do they have their images and do they fit their brand? Searching through stock images takes time, billable time. Stock or a photographer add to the budget.  There are a number of affordable online options, take the time to surf them and see what’s available. Time Saver Tip: Sites like allow you to create a lightbox of images you choose and then send them to the designer. They then have a number of choices and they can work with you to chose the best image for your message. Doing this saves them time and you money.
  4. Do they need custom graphics? Creating custom graphs, diagrams, illustrations adds to the final invoice.
    Time Saver Tip : If you have a graph, provide the excel file with the numbers. The designer can import this file into their software saving time. If it’s a diagram or illustration provide clear direction on the aim or goal of the graphic. If the designer knows what it’s supposed to convey, they have a better chance of hitting the mark faster.
  5. What layout will best suit their needs and message? Many consider only a traditional trifold, but there are alternatives that don’t cost a great deal more to print that can offer a very different feel and unique presentation. For example, perhaps a client would benefit from an additional panel that tears away. Keep an open mind.
  6. How will it be printed? Budgets and designs can be easily broken if this isn’t considered from the start.
    Budget Tip: Source your printing costs ahead of time and ask the designer for recommended printers. Designers often have good relationships with various printers. If the designer knows your budget they’ll be able to direct you to the appropriate one and often provide the specs to quote at. If you do the leg work you can save yourself money.

A brochure project isn’t one to take lightly, as you can see there is a fair number of things to consider. Going in educated and being honest about your budget saves everyone a great deal of time and frustration while providing you with a marketing piece worth displaying.


2 responses to “The Tight Budget Series: The Brochure

  1. This post engage me like a ring to my finger, jejeje sorry for my english : )

    Greetings From Chihuahua, Mexico

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