We reprint with permission some very pointed comments by Pierre 
 Zubrinsky about brochure design, particularly when used in direct mail.  
 From reading Pierre's comments I'd say they apply to general adver-
 tising brochures as well.
 In reviewing this excellent article, the thought occurred to me: Why
 should any reader of Direction be even prompted to read it if he/she
 is not directly involved with sales promotion? When someone presents
 this material to you for management review, this will give you a
 good basic feel for what constitutes good design and make you less
 susceptible to feelings of inferiority and intimidation when reviewing 
 brochures, ads other materials..
 "Appearance isn't everything" goes the old adage, and it's quite true
 --except when it comes to your brochure where it's of vital importance.  
 Every day we're bombarded with an ever-increasing quantity of printed 
 matter. More and more graphic material comes flooding into our mail-
 boxes, clamoring for our attention. This visual competition makes it 
 imperative that your brochure stands out from the rest of the pack.  
 Its impact on your prospective client must be both immediate and 
 striking. There will never be a second chance for you to make a great 
 first impression.
 And just what is it that give us a great first impression? Simple.
 A great design. The only mystery in designing a great brochure is
 that so many people think that designing is a mystery. There is no
 mystery. We are all designers and make design decisions every day.  
 Choosing a green and white striped tie instead of one with polka dots 
 is a design decision. So is the way you arrange your bookcase or the 
 way you comb your hair. We are all born with a certain sense of design.  
 In most of us, it remains rather undeveloped. But with practice and 
 persistence, you can develop these design skills. If you have common 
 sense, learn to pay more attention to detail, and aren't afraid to 
 experiment, you, too, can create great looking, effective, money-
 making brochures.
 There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to good design. What
 works well in one design may be totally inappropriate in another. Yet 
 there are certain elements which are essential in the creation of a 
 well-designed brochure.
 These elements can be summed up as the following secrets:
 * Look--then try to see.
 * Kiss your design.
 * Two B's or not two B's.
 * Remember nothing.
 * Less is more.
 * Blow it out of proportion.
 * Put on the right face.
 * Coloring by the numbers.
 * Following the paper trail.
 * The Devil's in the details.

 Secret #1: Look--Then Try To See
 Take the time to collect and study the brochures you like and don't
 like. Try to see just what it is that looks appealing to you in one
 design and not another. The more accustomed you become to analyzing
 and seeing what you are looking at, the more you will develop your
 sensitivity to good design.
 Secret #2: Kiss Your Design:
 Keep-it-simple-silly! So many great brochure designs have been
 torpedoed because this simple element was overlooked, ignored or
 forgotten. Incorporate only that which is essential to the effective 
 communication of your message. If a particular graphic element is 
 serving basically as ornamentation, ask yourself if it is helping to 
 direct or focus the reader's attention or if it's actually distracting 
 I once had a client who was advertising hand-painted Easter eggs.  
 He originally wanted a design that consisted of an Easter basket with 
 his hand-painted egg inside. Working together, we eventually came up 
 with a beautiful straw basket lined with some exquisitely rendered 
 pieces of straw. After studying and admiring this composition, however, 
 we realized that the basket was stealing the show and distracting 
 attention away from the eggs. We ended up creating a piece that con-
 sisted of only one close-up view of a finely detailed, hand-painted 
 egg with two concise phrases positioned underneath.
 Secret #3: Two B's Or Not Two B's
 Be parsimonious with your bars and boxes. Don't get me wrong. Boxes, 
 borders and bars have their uses, such as directing one's attention 
 and separating busy areas--but too many can make your brochure design 
 end up looking like...well, a box of BB's--dense, packed, heavy and 
 static. Let those BB's out. Let'em roll. Let'em bounce. Let'em dance!
 Secret #4: Remember Nothing.
 This is one of the most unappreciated elements of graphic design.
 Nothing is all those empty spaces between and around graphic objects
 as well as lines of text that define their relationship to each
 other and bring into focus their distinctness on the page. The amount 
 of "nothing" in a design affects its overall tone of lightness or 
 heaviness. Nothing provides the eye with anchoring and resting places 
 as it sweeps across the "somethings."
 Secret #5: Less Is More.
 You've got to get your message organized and crystallized to be able
 to create an effective brochure design. Put as much planning into
 your brochure as you would any other important project. Carefully
 define its purpose and create a hierarchy of the various components
 of your message. The clearer you are about their sequence and impor-
 tance, the better your designs will be. Make sketches and move the 
 various elements around. Don't be afraid to experiment. Repositioning 
 one element can radically alter the design. And remember to KISS it 
 constantly. Be ruthless as you prune down cute but unnecessary blah, 
 blah, blah that doesn't help to clearly communicate your message.
 Secret #6: Blow It Out Of Proportion
 After you have made a hierarchical list that establishes the relative 
 importance and sequence of the particular components in your message, 
 you will be ready to consider how to treat each of the components in 
 your message. The most important items at the top of your list should 
 obviously receive more of your reader's attention. They would, there-
 fore, be larger, bolder, brighter, or in some other way made to stand 
 out from the rest of your message. It is this constant tension between 
 the consistency and symmetry of the whole versus the contrast contained 
 in the objects selected to stand out that gives movement and life to 
 the design.
 Secret #7: Put On The Right Face
 Is your message humorous, formal, authoritative, classy or friendly?
 Choose a typeface that expresses the "feel" of your message and
 doesn't interfere with the clarity of its communication. Avoid using
 more than two or three typefaces. Too many are distracting and con-
 fusing to the eye. The type size of individual design components
 should be determined by their relative importance in the brochure.
 The space between lines is as crucial as the words and lines them-
 selves. Stay away from excessive underlining. It can cause clutter 
 and interfere with legibility.
 Secret #8: Coloring By The Numbers
 Color increases the numbers of your budget's bottom line. Some of
 the most effective brochures are done in only one or two colors.
 Black and white can often be more dramatic than color. There are
 hundreds of paper colors available. You can use a dark blue or green 
 ink instead of black that can be applied in different shades to 
 different parts of your brochure, thereby giving it a lot more variety 
 and richness.
 Secret #9: Following The Paper Trail
 Paper comes in all sizes, colors, textures and coated and uncoated.
 Coated paper will give more depth and brilliance to your colors. Ask
 your printer about recycled and synthetic papers. There's quite a
 lot of it available, and it's quite beautiful. Recycled paper is
 good for your business and good for trees. (Editor's note: But using 
 recycled paper can add to your brochure cost because it is generally 
 more expensive than regular paper.)

 Secret #10: The Devil Is In The Details
 Minute differences in line weight, color and spacing can make the
 difference between a mediocre brochure and a great one. And remember --
 you can't proofread your final design enough before sending it out to 
 be printed. The best designers in the business have at one time or 
 another let some silly mistake slip past them. Once your brochure goes 
 to the printer, it's too late to correct it. All you can do then is 
 kick and holler. So proof and proof again!
 This resource is (c) 1996 by, and excerpted from, Direction newsletter.
 Pierre Zubrinsky is an artist and freelance graphic designer, who can
 be reached at 213-661-4849.