To get a running start on 2009 projects, yesterday we googled-up some corporate capability brochures to get some ideas. Immediately I was drawn to what was wrong in these publications. What was wrong? Plenty:
- If I see another globe I’m going to puke. At least maps are functional.
- Luckily there weren’t many images of posed people in meetings, or I would have hurled for sure.
- Brochure covers didn’t say what the company does. And in several cases, also didn’t show anything relevant.
- Pictures of products without any captions.
- Waffling about market position like ‘one of the leading suppliers’.
- Opening with a mission statement. (Can be used if changed to active present tense.)
- I was surprised how many images of people were shown in circle cutouts.
- Pictures were used from target markets (airplanes, chemical jars) without any connection to the content.
- Quotations highlighted, but without a referenced source—who said this? (One had a reference … to their 2004 Annual Report. Doh!)
We weren’t really looking at copy, but there was an equal amount of suckage there. A lot of text was placed the same way images were: to fill space, not position their brand or tell their story.
Here’s a copy gem I just found when taking a second look:
“XXX Inc. is built on strong core competencies that enable the development of a wide choice of product and support solutions to meet the specific needs of our customers.”
They must have used the Dilbert BS Generator! (Of course the same brochure has a globe in someone’s hand on the cover.)
So what was my favorite? Who hit a home run?
The closest was what looked like an in-house job from NHBB circa 1999. The body copy was extremely light, but defines what they do clearly. Lots of pictures—labeled pictures: product, target industries, and their people. The piece wasn’t beautiful, but quickly let me understand the company and what it does&em; so that I felt connected with their brand.
The most striking, and less obvious, difference in brochures:
Well, it became obvious after looking at half-a-dozen. Some brochures were made in-house and others by agencies. In-house stuff had better content, but looks were lacking. Agency stuff was pretty, but content was lame.
Really, in either case, the fault should lie with the marketing manager. They shouldn’t be dumping projects on agencies without direct involvement. And they shouldn’t approach the in-house design with the same quality that is acceptable with a specification sheet.
Your heart, o marketing manager, should be for the brand and products—let it show, like you care. Please. Push for better content, push for better design.
Or just slap things together and let the whole world know you didn’t do your job when the thing gets printed. Your choice.