One of our most popular posts here on the PrintPlace Blog was centered around brochure design. We thought it was worth revisiting to include some points we left out.
While Leonardo Da Vinci never created a minimalist brochure design himself, I have no doubt in my mind he would have done so, had there been a practical reason for brochures or had someone offered him a contract to make one. Compared to his contemporaries’, his work was quite stark. When asked why a man as wealthy as himself lived in a small apartment, Leonardo responded “small rooms discipline the mind… large ones distract it.”
This has become a favorite quote of mine, and it has influenced so much of my life. It’s also a popular quote with architects, interior decorators, industrial designers, and of course graphic designers. But it’s not very well known among marketers and entrepreneurs, and that’s a shame.
One of the most common problems with brochures — the ones most likely to end up in the trash, anyway — is clutter. Cluttered design rarely looks good. When it does, it often takes a disproportionate amount of effort to make it happen. It’s rarely worth it.
So why do many marketers go with such cluttered, convoluted designs? It often boils down to decision makers not understanding the benefits of minimalist design. All too often, revisions to a brochure design involve adding more copy and elements until everything looks bloated. The relatively generous format of a brochure may encourage the proliferation of these designs, as not everyone internalizes the ideas of design economy and negative space.
Most trained designers take minimalist design to heart, or at least understand it, but many marketing managers and business owners may not necessarily understand why stuffing their brochures with everything and anything they can may not be such a good idea.
Here are five reasons minimalist brochure design just plain works.
Fewer things can go wrong
It’s not to say things can’t go wrong, or that minimalism automatically means designing your brochure is easy. But less complexity often means you can dedicate more time to the elements that you do have, hopefully getting more things right than you would otherwise in a more complex design.
There are still a lot of things to consider such as proportions, use of color, the length and tone of your brochure copy, and the typefaces, among many other things. But limiting the components that go into your design will also limit the things that could go awry. Another huge plus is that minimalist designs also tend to be far more forgiving.
Simpler to adapt to different formats
Multi-page and multi-fold designs carry several challenges unfolded single sheet designs don’t have. Creating a multi-page product such as a brochure takes quite a bit more precision and forethought than a single printed page, such as a poster or a flyer. Minimalist brochure designs are also easier to convert into different formats in a wide variety of contexts. For one thing, there would be less clutter to take care of when you turn the same design into something else.
Generally takes less time
Since you don’t have to spot check so many elements, less time can be spent on any one design component– in theory. “In theory” because developing a sense of design and subtlety can take time.
Amateur designers — and marketing managers — who’ve never bothered to objectively assess their own output might never get there. It’s hard to make direct comparisons but all other things being equal, developing a strong minimalist brochure design will take less time than it does to make a strong complex one.
Forces you to focus on what matters
A lot of what we encounter is nothing but white noise that makes everything else hard to understand, or keeps us from seeing which things are truly important. Sure, you can fill your brochure with everything there is to know about your brand. After all, you have all the space in the world for it. But if your audience can’t readily absorb the information on it anyway, then who cares?
Minimalist design forces creators to consider the core of their message and what their audience is receptive to. This is hard enough to do with a minimalist brochure design, let alone a complex one. From a wider perspective, a minimalist design ideology is worth looking into for most marketing materials for the same reason.
Minimalist brochure design tends to be timeless
If you need to regularly update your brochures but keep the same design elements, a minimalist brochure design can be a huge help. Not only because you can save on development and redesign expenses, but also because minimalist design will likely age better than whatever other trends everyone else is following.
This vintage example from Switzerland does not look like it was created almost 60 years ago.
A minimalist brochure design created by your team can be similarly timeless. It’s hard to imagine minimalism being totally out of the picture for the next several generations. The principles are now tied into what our brains perceive as clean and understandable.
Love minimalist brochure design? Hate it? Tell us in the comments below!
Arthur Piccio is a feature writer and subject matter expert for the PrintPlace Blog. In his spare time he studies guitar and writes about goats.