Communicating Effectively Through a Company Brochure

Last Updated May 2, 2007 7:26 PM EDT

Company brochures can serve to reassure customers, suppliers, and other business partners that you are a sound organization. Use a brochure to communicate your organization's strengths. Most brochures include a description of a company's product offerings, management, and key financial data. In addition to this basic information, you can describe those attributes that distinguish your company, such as technological innovation, reliability, or customer service.

What You Need to KnowDo I need a company brochure?

Many organizations consider their company brochure to be their most important publication. These types of brochures are often popular among sales force personnel and are considered to present the company's face. To decide whether your organization needs a company brochure, though, be sure to consider the brochure in the context of an overall communications program. Though brochures can play a role in communicating company information, they are not a substitute for targeted communications.

Should I restrict use of our company brochure to minimize expenses?

It is generally assumed that a high-quality brochure will better reflect a solid company. However, high quality brochures are more expensive to produce than those of lesser quality, and companies sometimes suffer when their sales force gives these expensive publications away freely. To encourage careful use of your brochure, you might consider implementing an internal charging system for publications. This way, staff will need to make a business case for using publications and use them more judiciously.

To whom should we distribute a company brochure?

You can distribute your company brochure to prospective and current customers, suppliers, business partners, distributors, and investors. Remember to use your brochure as one part of an integrated communication program, however. In some cases, a particular audience may require a more targeted publication in addition to or instead of the brochure. You can also distribute your brochure to new employees as a way to orient them to your company.

What to DoPlan The Brochure's Content

The overall goal of a company brochure is to describe a company and help persuade decision-makers that it will be a good business partner. The brochure should demonstrate corporate success, financial stability, and other important attributes. Consider it as a statement of confidence whose principle goals is to reassure customers.

The first step in creating your brochure is to plan its content. Though what you highlight in your brochure will vary depending on your company, here is some information you should consider including:

  • Product offerings
  • Management profiles
  • Staff and other resources
  • Technical capabilities
  • Research and development activities
  • International activities
  • Success handling complex projects
  • Innovation
  • Market leadership
  • Financial performance
  • Office, factory, or store locations
Communicate Key Messages

Overall, you want your company brochure to communicate success. There are many attributes that contribute to this perception. Here are some of them:

Product Range

Describe your product range, which should contain a balance of both established, market leaders and emerging products with growth potential. Communicate how your product line meets all relevant requirements or standards and how you take into account market conditions as you develop new products.

Innovation

Communicating a reputation for innovation is particularly important if you are a technology company. These companies must convince their customers that they offer more advanced products than their competitors. Companies viewed as innovative are better able to compete for contracts where high performance is a requirement. They are seen as always looking to the future, so their products are continually evolving to better meet the needs of customers. Innovative companies also tend to have highly qualified technical staff.

To communicate innovation in your brochure, highlight your superior product line, especially those products that anticipate future needs. Talk about your past product achievements and successful track record. Finally, show how you stay current in you industry by describing your research and development activities.

Quality

Describe how you assure quality in your company's product line, for instance quality checks or inspections. You should also communicate how you comply with the relevant requirements or safety standards for your industry.

Investment in Research

An investment in research and development can help show that a company is committed to innovation. Describe how you are involved in industry research or have helped to set industry standards. To show leadership, you also can describe your participation in user groups or associations.

Companies that are invested in research are seen as offering higher-level service and as having improved long-term growth prospects. Note that investment does not only include capital expenses on equipment: Investment in human resources is at least as important.

Market and Customer Focus

Showing that you are market and customer focused communicates to customers that you care about their needs; it reassures investors that you are on the right track; and it increases the priority your staff places on customer service. You can demonstrate market focus in your brochure by describing your ongoing market research activities, how you obtain customer feedback, how you remain flexible as an organization as new needs arise, and your approach to customer service.

Remember that is not enough for a few specialist individuals to be responsible for customer care. Instead, the whole organization must reflect a commitment to customer service. This includes the C.E.O. and senior management—If you include management biographies in your brochure, be sure to describe them in a way that shows how they too are committed to serving the customer's needs.

Financial Stability

Companies that are financially stable are more likely to be reliable suppliers. For this reason, showing how you are financially sound as an organization may help you to win long-term contracts and obtain access to funds. You will also reassure employees that your company is stable in the long run.

To demonstrate financial stability in your brochure, describe such factors as share price, profit and loss record, financial controls, product portfolio, and customer base. You can also list funding sources for new product development.

Good Management

Customers feel more secure that their business is in safe hands if a company is well managed. To demonstrate this in your brochure, describe such factors as your recruitment and evaluation process, staff professional development programs, and attributes that you look for in your team members. You may also choose to include biographies of key leadership personnel.

Clear Goals

A clear mission statement, focused on service to the customer, is essential for any company. Be sure to include your company's mission statement in your brochure. In addition, you may choose to publish other your company goals or a statement of direction, which describes how the company anticipates growing its business in the future.

What to AvoidYou Leave Out Essential Information

Customers and prospects will use your company brochure to assess your suitability as a business partner. Be sure to consider your brochure from the customer's perspective and include all information they will find important. Your brochure should describe your company in a balanced way, including its skills, products, resources, performance, and track record.

You Fail to Integrate with Other Communications

The corporate brochure should not be considered as separate from an integrated communication program—instead, you should think about it as just one of many communications you will have with your customers. Be sure to integrate the content of your brochure with your other advertising, product publications, Web sites, and public relations.

You Place Presentation over Content

Though it's true that a brochure that looks nice will make a good first impression, remember that excellent design and printing cannot compensate for inferior content. Both content and design should be high quality.

Where to Learn MoreBooks:

Cyr, Lisa. Brochure Design That Works: Secrets for Successful Brochure Design. Gloucester MA: Rockport Publishers, 2002.

Williams, Robin. The Non-Designers Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice. 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press, 2004.

Yadin, Daniel. Creative Marketing Communications. 3rd ed. Milford, CT: Kogan Page, 2001.

Web Site:

American Marketing Association: www.marketingpower.com