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Should I Print a Catalog or a Brochure?

Printing and mailing catalogs and brochures are a huge part of many businesses' marketing efforts. Here we discuss what makes each medium unique in how it presents its information to the reader. When it comes to determining the final format for your print marketing messages or mailers, it can be difficult to determine exactly which of the products offered online matches your planned design, purpose or budget. Of all the products we offer, two of the hottest and most effective products that often get confused are the brochure and the catalog.

High Quality, Full Color Brochure Printing | Conquest GraphicsWhile the brochure and the catalog are both highly effective for their own specific purposes, they each have certain strengths with certain types of content capabilities that make them even more potent when paired with the right designs or layouts.

Think of a time you’ve gone on vacation to a relatively crowded, commercialized vacation spot for which many agencies are competing to get the attention of tourists like yourself. Many hotels, condos or property rental companies will provide guests with a smorgasbord of printed advertisements.

Aside from being instantly inundated with the arbitrary details of tourist-y advertising, you may notice the variety of page sizes available in the printing world. Some may have stitching along the folded edge to create larger saddle-stitched “catalogs” that contain magazine-like materials about local attractions; others will be smaller “booklets” that contain pages of coupons or a partial list of a store’s inventory.

At face value, we often don’t make much of a meaningful disambiguation between a catalog and a brochure aside from generalized Full-Color Catalog Printing | Conquest Graphicsphysical details. For example, we’d maybe first look at the way in which the pages are folded together to form the final printed product.

For catalogs, the spines are typically longer and feature stitching along the crease to hold the pages together. Brochures, on the other hand, are only folded together and are often made of a single sheet of paper that’s folded over itself in one of many possible brochure fold patterns.

While these distinctions may help to identify what is technically categorized as a brochure or a catalog, it doesn’t exactly help us in determining whether or not our desired messaging should be delivered in a brochure or catalog format when deciding for ourselves.

This is where the dictionary definitions of these terms begin to come in handy. BusinessDictionary.com defines a catalog as a “list of goods or services on sale with their description and prices published as a printed document, or as an electronic document (e-catalog) on internet or on a diskette, CD, DVD, etc.”

The BusinessDictionary goes on to describe a brochure as a “publication consisting of one folded page ... Used mainly for advertising purposes.”

Full-Color Catalog Printing | Conquest GraphicsFrom these definitions, we can develop a number of new distinctions that can be crucial in helping us to decide whether we want to arrange our information in a brochure or catalog format. As the definitions show, a catalog typically has a list at its core. It could list all the available products in a store’s inventory, it could list the various deals and sale items available at a shop at the mall, it could list the various beachfront properties currently on the market; catalogs, in essence, are lists.

Because of this, it makes sense for the longer, multipage lists to be in a relatively longer final printed format. But does this mean that your catalog project’s design has to contain a list of inventory or sales or properties? Absolutely not!

There are various ways to “hack” the catalog or brochure to transform it into something that seems like an entirely different product. For ideas on how you can elevate your catalog to be something else entirely, see one of our previous posts “How a Catalog Can Do More Than List Your Products.” Templates for the various sizes and folds of brochures are available below:

With any of these products, you can also add variable data printing on our digital press to create one-of-a-kind print products that bear various logos, brands or text information that’s customized to the recipient of the mailed brochure or catalog.

As far as we at Conquest Graphics are concerned, the difference between a catalog and a brochure simply comes down to the size and stitching.

Being a little creative in the preparation phase can give your brand that extra edge that it takes to outdo your competitors. If you already have a designer or proof available, be sure to fine tune the sizing of your publication to match the bleeds and other sizing specifications using one of our templates on this page.  If you need design help to optimize your product selection to suit your needs, feel free to get in touch with us through our Design Services page.

No matter which format you choose, there are an infinite number of possibilities for how you can fill the space provided with beautiful illustrations and quality copy. Whether you choose to fill your catalog with a list of your inventory or the pages of a coloring book, we will print your project, assuming all the submitted files are in the correct format (see our previous blog post about why PDFs are the universally preferred file type).

Once you’ve made your final decision on whether you’ll print a catalog or a brochure and once you’ve designed a layout that follows the designated template’s guidelines, you’re ready to print!

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