Ad vs. brochure design. What’s the difference?

Purpose. Every marketing material you create has one. Yes, the overarching purpose of all marketing materials is to promote your business, but the means by which this is done varies. For example, a website gives prospects a quick sample of your business while teasing the customer to get in touch to learn more. A newsletter often provides free advice and exclusive deals on products or services. So what about ads and brochures? What purpose do they serve? How are they different? Knowing the answers to these questions is sure to help you design a more effective ad or brochure.

DATE 13 October 2016
INTERESTS Brochure Design, Branding, Printing,

The purpose of a brochure
If you read our blog last month about how to design an effective brochure, you likely got the gist that a brochure is designed to be educational. It can answer questions, overcome objections and communicate the feeling your product or service provides. This leads to a key difference that separates a brochure from an advertisement: time. A brochure generally takes several minutes to consume all of its contents, whereas an ad’s content can be consumed almost instantaneously.


Purpose of Ads
Ads are everywhere. We see them on the subway, plastered to billboards and in between commercials of our favorite TV shows. Whatever type of ad you’re exposed to, they all communicate their message at a rapid speed in an effort to generate instant excitement. For this reason, ads tend to rely heavily on visuals—more than written content—as visuals can create a bigger impact.

The key difference between an ad and brochure
As mentioned, time is the key difference that separates a brochure from an ad. You have a much shorter amount of time to communicate your message in an ad. So when you think of an ad’s purpose, think of the word “instant”.

As for a brochure, we know a person interested in its product or service will take the time to flip through and read all or part of its contents. So when it comes to the purpose of a brochure, think of the word “educate”.

What one thing should a brochure and ad have in common?
Whether you’re designing an ad or brochure, both of these marketing materials should have one thing in common. And just like you can sum up the purpose of a brochure or ad in one word, the common characteristic these two marketing materials must share can also be summed up in one word: “memorable”.

While a brochure can be memorable simply for being a brochure (because less people create them), an ad must resort to other means. Instead, it should create a sense of wonder, awe, beauty or amusement. Alternatively, an ad can be memorable because it’s shocking, surprising, or causes a person to do a double take. Whatever above adjective you aim to communicate, your ad needs to generate an emotional reaction in the viewer. If you can do this, your ad is sure to stand out in the prospect’s mind.