Leaflet design – there’s more to it than meets the eye!

Effective leaflet design

Leaflets are often the entry level marketing for many businesses. Cheap and cheerful, they can be a very effective way of spreading your message.

So designing something so simple must be easy, right? Well, perhaps not …

With online print services offering design templates and many people dabbling with desktop publishing software on their PC, the temptation to ‘do it yourself’ can be tempting, but, like many seemingly simple things, doing it well is harder than you think.

So what goes into designing a great leaflet and what do so many get wrong?

1) Understand your audience and purpose of the leaflet

Before any design is started you should have a clear idea of who the leaflet is aimed at and what is its purpose.

A good question to ask yourself is ‘What do I want people to do as a result of reading my leaflet?’

The answer to that will determine what messages you should include and the design.

2) Use both sides of the leaflet

I have to admit that I get very frustrated when I see leaflets printed only on one side. The extra cost of printing on both sides is minimal yet it give you so much more space to showcase your message.

Unless you intend to pin on a wall (in which case it is a poster not a leaflet) then please use both sides of the paper!

3) Understand the power of white space

White space (the area you do not have any text or images) is a very powerful design tool. Good designers understand how to use it effectively.

Cramming every bit of information you can think of is obviously poor practice and makes it difficult for the reader to absorb the information or scan read the main points. But conversely, too little content is equally bad.

Good font choice and leading (the space between the base lines) can give the impression of a space but still getting across the information you need.

“Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking”

Ellen Lupton, Curator of Contemporary Design, National Design Museum, New York

4) Think about your imagery

We are a visual animal and eye-tracking research has shown that we are attracted to images and graphics. People, especially faces, are a good way of drawing attention, as are irregular shaped graphics to hold key messages such as prices, discounts and call to actions.

Your choice of imagery should be linked to your branding and if you don’t have an image style for your brand or business, it is something you need to consider. Images need to support your messages but also have a synergy and consistency. Consider commissioning your own photography so you can get exactly what you want; or you can use stock image libraries, but again don’t be eclectic in your choice, think about the coherence of the images you use.

It goes without saying that for print you should use high resolution images (so no image grabs from the web) and NEVER use images you have pulled off google images or other people’s websites unless you have copyright permission to use them.

5) Design for readability

It always amazes me how many leaflets I see that are difficult to read. Large blocks of dense type; poor contrast of text and fonts that are fighting for dominance are all common mistakes.

Remember that a leaflet’s first job is to be read. If the design choices mean that people are put off reading the leaflet, then it doesn’t matter how amazing the content or offer is, the effort will be wasted.

Break down the leaflet into ‘bit sized’ chunks so no large paragraphs of text. Use your headlines to convey the main messages and then break the text up with sub headlines, bullet points and graphics.

Don’t forget that what looks great on your monitor (back lit and showing at bigger than life size) may not translate when printed on an A5 flier on low weight paper.

6) Don’t forget your call to actions

Going back to my first point, understanding what you want people to do upon reading the leaflet; don’t forget your call to actions. If you want people to do something i.e. call now, book now, go online and buy, you need to tell them (often more than once).

Make sure you have multiple ways people can contact you and don’t forget things such as social media addresses. Someone may not be ready to buy from the leaflet, but if you can get them as a social media follower, you will have opportunities in the future to market to them.

7) Consider the size and format of the leaflet

Not all leaflets need to be A5. Although a cost effective format, think about how it is being distributed. If it is to be used as an insert into your invoices, then a DL format would fit into the envelopes. Perhaps a larger format would gain more impact?

Your designer should make recommendations on your leaflet format.

8) Consider what it will be printed on

Your choice of paper weight and finish will have a big impact on the perception of your leaflet. Do you want a gloss or silk finish? For some products, an uncoated paper gives a more ‘art’ feel that may be appropriate.

Ask to see examples of different papers and what print looks like on them. An uncoated paper, for example, will deaden the colours compared to a gloss or silk.

You can also be clever with your paper choice such as choosing a heavier weight cover for a brochure or pamphlet to give the impression of a heavier weight publication. Or look at other finishes such as embossing, foil blocking or spot UV varnishes that can enhance the design.

This is where an experienced designer will be able to advise and make recommendations.

9) Don’t let your leaflets die in a box

If you have considered the purpose of the leaflet before you start, then you should also have considered what you are going to do with them. It sounds obvious but it is not uncommon for people to have leaflets produced without considering how they are going to distribute them, and for the leaflets to languish in boxes under a desk or in the stationery cupboard!

If you would like to speak to us about professional and effective leaflet design and print, just give us a call on 01472 269 016.