Developing a Printed Brochure
1. Who is your audience and how do they access information?
Is a brochure the best way to communicate your message to your audience? Whatever
your market is – students, businesses, funders, employers – you should find out how
and when they access information. A business, for example, may not want to file a
booklet; a web page may be a simpler and user-friendly way of disseminating
information. You should think of the context in which your audience will need and will
use your information.
If you can, plan some market research to find out how your audience looks for and uses
this type of information. This can involve asking what type of information they need from
you, in what format and at what time they would prefer it.
You may also find it useful to do some competitor analysis by seeing what is available
from similar departments in other universities. If it is course information, then see how
yours compares to theirs, and what you can infer about other universities from their
literature. How you position yourself in your market will be evident. If competitor literature
is a few photocopied sheets with clip art, then your well-designed, professionally
produced course brochure will present a strong market position. If this situation is
reversed then you could well be presenting a distressed image of your department.
2. What other publications and communications does the University send
out to this audience?
There can be several points of contact between the University and its audiences over
any period of time. For example, over the student recruitment cycle, a prospective
student has contact with us at many different times through several media.
Before deciding what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, find out what
other contact points there will be and what has been said. Ensure that what you produce
fits with the look and tone of what is sent, and that you are not duplicating information.
3. What key points do you want to communicate?
Key points will usually be facts or features of the University your departments, research
or course portfolio. To help your audience understand why these facts are important you
will need to spell out what benefits they offer.
For example, a feature of your department might be that it has an ‘Excellent’ TQA rating.
This means that students will be well taught – an advantage over choosing a university
with a lower TQA score – which should give your graduates a head start in the job
market: it could offer the benefit of working for a better employer, their employer of
choice or perhaps higher potential earnings.
What does a high RAE score mean to prospective students? We tend to explain this by
saying that they will be taught by academics at the cutting edge of their subjects, but it
needs more to make it relevant to this audience. We should add that what they will learn
about their subjects will be up to the minute, and that this will make them more valuable
as graduates, or that they will stand a better chance of doing a PhD of their choice.
If you make a list of your course or department’s strengths, then these will be the
features to emphasise and, more importantly, explain. Don’t assume that your audience
can easily translate features of the University into short- or long-term benefits to them.
4. What writing style should you adopt?
You should write clearly and avoid jargon and address your audience directly. Aim to
keep your sentences short and punchy. Avoid using the passive voice, for example:
Students are advised to contact the admissions secretary in advance of submitting an
Should be rewritten as:
Before you apply you should contact our admissions secretary or
Contact our admissions secretary before you apply
The University has an Editorial Style Guide, which you can find at
The style guide is an essential part of maintaining a consistent identity for the
University. It offers an overview of the type of style issues you need to look
out for when writing including grammar and standard usage.
5. Call to action
Your brochure should direct readers clearly to what you want them to do next. This might
be to phone to speak to someone, visit the department, visit a website, register for a
conference or apply for a course. Your brochure should gently demand an action from its
reader and supply all the information needed to take that action as easily as possible.
How your brochure looks is central to your market positioning. It should be
professionally designed, by a SRAM approved designer, in line with the University’s visual identity.
Our approved designers are up to date with our visual identity and design requirements.
For any design work on publications for external audiences you should talk to us first.
We can either manage the production or suggest a suitable designer/agency, ensuring quality and
best value for you.