As we embark on another new year, many companies are taking a look at their marketing collateral and considering whether it’s time for an update or upgrade. If you’re in that position, let me offer this piece of creative counsel: Whenever possible, avoid the 9” x 12” pocket folder!
For ages, 9” x 12” pocket folders have been the staple format for corporate brochures. Every major company had one—often with a large, foiled logo emblazed across the front—equipped with business card slits and stuffed with miscellaneous Xerox-ed information. The “upgrade” to this option was a printed insert—saddle-stitched (or stapled) in the center—to create more of a book feeling.
Welcome to 2014.
In an increasingly visual age where people are bombarded with images, both printed and digital, having truly impactful marketing collateral is paramount. Remembering that the goal is to stand out from your competitors and convey the essence of your company’s message, consider what your old pocket folder may be saying about you:
- My company has not kept up with the times. If your company brochure looks like the one I’ve previously described, you may be out of touch with the vivid, innovative, interactive business climate that has developed. Potential clients may find you irrelevant in their daily-evolving industry.
- We are satisfied with standard (a.k.a generic). In any office supply store, 9” x 12” pocket folders are sold in bulk. They are common and can often look as though little thought or effort was put into their production. Your standard pocket folder is more likely to get lost in a sea of office files and marketing materials on a prospective client’s desk than to get noticed.
- You have too much/too little to say. Writing an eight-to-12 page history of your company in your pocket folder is a futile effort as 1.) the ability to convey information concisely is valuable, and 2.) no one will ever read all that. On the other hand, if you’re trying to stretch two paragraphs of content over eight inserted pages in an effort to demonstrate gravitas, you’re trying too hard. And your potential clients know it.
Be open minded when approaching a printed brochure project (but make sure you ask/answer the right questions before starting any creative project). While there are occasions when pocket folders are functionally warranted (such as contracts for clients to fill out), accompanying documents often can be accommodated by an envelope or a more creative carrier. If your project requires a folder or carrier, consider these tips to make your piece stand out:
- Use bold colors and images. Try to avoid dark colors and typical business stock photography.
- Consider unconventional formats or printing techniques. Perhaps choose a horizontal orientation, an oversized book or a smaller square shape with die cuts. Any marketing collateral piece that doesn’t stack neatly or uniformly in a pile of letter-sized paper will be noticeable.
- Be mindful to keep bits of information bite-sized. Readers should be able to get your message if they just skim through the content.
Above all else, trust the instincts of your creative team to discover what will be the BEST visual representation of your brand. That is, after all, why you’re paying them.
What other marketing collateral advice do you have for companies looking to make a change in 2014?