Standing out from the crowd is a great way to get noticed. I often work with small businesses, many of whom start out their marketing efforts by producing traditional tri-fold brochures. Those who are game to try something different have an advantage, for if they offer a different style, they may create a “user experience” that is memorable enough for the recipient to be more likely to become a prospect.
Sometimes all that’s needed to be different is to use a different size, weight, texture, or finish for the paper you use.
Sometimes simply changing the orientation from vertical to horizontal can be a good step in a new direction.
One of the more popular folding alternatives is the “accordion” fold with folds on alternating sides, zigzagging first forward, then backward. Another alternative is the “gatefold” where two side panels are folded in toward the center before a final vertical fold is made. A “roll” or “barrel” fold opens one edge again and again in the same directional sequence. Each of these three examples can all use the same size paper; they just take different planning for using the panels.
The most interesting folds are those that fold in more than one direction in the same piece, or that make use of “die cuts” that cut an edge into a particular shape or angle, rather than the traditional 90-degree corner angles. The die-cut edges may have an interesting look about them when used with a folding pattern, even a traditional folding pattern, so that the piece looks much different—and therefore more interesting.
As enthusiastic as I am about alternate folding patterns, I must mention that it’s very important to have a chat early on in the design process with your printer about what you’re planning. If your piece uses custom paper sizes, or folds must be scored, or there are die-cuts, or it requires hand assembly instead of machine automation, there can be increases in cost. Your printer will know how to guide you or make suggestions to help you keep costs down. But if the piece does indeed get more attention because of inspired design—and therefore brings you or your client more business—the investment can certainly be worth it. And you’ll be a hero!