9 Rules for Flyer Design

As a start-up or small business, it’s tempting to save your cash and go with free offers to design your flyers, stationery, advertisements etc.

Yes, some of these companies can design a flyer with your logo, some nice images and some text about your company, but if they are doing it for free, will they put the time and effort into making sure the design is well thought out with your target audience in mind?

When having any promotional item designed, it’s important that the designer knows exactly who will be seeing the item and what you want those people (your target market) to do as a result.

In this article I give you 9 rules for flyer design with a case study to show you why getting work done free could end up costing you a lot more than what you expect to save.

Case study:

One of my clients wanted a flyer designed to promote themselves. Instead of using us, they used a printing company that offered free design with x number of flyers printed. My client then sent me the design to see what I thought. I gave them some straightforward feedback, luckily before the flyers were printed so they had them edited in time!

The flyer had a nice graphic that could attract attention but needed a lot of changes.

Here are 9 rules of flyer design and what revisions were needed.

1. Target a flyer at a specific market

My client’s target market are anything from low-income families through to top, high earning executives. The flyer’s design was aimed too broadly at both extremes. This would be ok except the gap was too wide. It was aimed at the low-income market, looking for a low cost package, but also aimed at the other extreme. In this case, those on low incomes may be put off by the luxury (and expensive) packages and vice versa. It would be better to have two separate flyers aimed at both markets, or to make it more general and less of a gap between the two extremes.

2. Have a purpose

A flyer needs to have a purpose which is one step in a marketing/sales strategy to lead to the next step. In my client’s case, the purpose was to get enquiries on their website. This would then lead to the next step which in their case, is to make a purchase (then your next goals for that customer might be to receive a testimonial from them,  get them to purchase again and then to recommend you to someone else).

Other examples of a purpose for a flyer could be to:

  • Grow brand awareness
  • Get leads/contact details
  • Increase sales
  • Get more website visitors
  • Build credibility/a good reputation
  • Retain customers

My client knows that a good percentage of enquirers on their website end up making a purchase. For the people that didn’t buy, they had their email address in order to start building a relationship with them, with the ultimate goal of obtaining a customer.

3. Keep the design consistent

Use 2 or 3 fonts at the most. If the flyer has too many different typefaces and colours, it can look untidy and unprofessional. Also make it consistent with your other marketing collateral including brochures, your website and emails. It needs to be familiar and recognised as your company. This is the reason that companies have a Style Guide which is an in-house guide for your staff and designers to follow in order to keep consistency of your brand.

4. Don’t place your logo at the top

My client’s logo should have been in the bottom third of the flyer – in most cases, your logo isn’t what makes someone read the flyer. The purpose of your logo is to tell people who you are and what/how to take action AFTER you have got their attention, interest and desire (AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, then Action).

5. Have a main headline that gets attention

A flyer needs something to grab people’s attention so that they read on; anything to stop them simply tossing it to one side. Think of times when you are walking down a high street and someone hands you a flyer. If you accept it, you might have a brief look but then usually throw it away or put it in your bag/pocket. If the main headline grabbed you enough you’d be more likely to read more of it. This could be something you relate to, solves a problem you have, ‘talks’ to you, makes you laugh etc. It’s the same with flyers you send by post or PDFs you email out. My client’s headline was their logo, so I provided them with a headline to attract attention.

6. Include your USP(s)

What is it that makes you stand out from your competitors? The flyer needed to make this clear. My client offers a great service that solves a very real problem and saves their customers a lot of time and hassle. The flyer needed to say this.

7. State the benefits clearly

The text included all the main points that my client’s company thought would promote them, but for each point, they needed to put themselves in the reader’s shoes and ask ‘So what? How does that benefit me?’ It needed the actual benefits for their target market. Saying ‘we are a member of X organisation’ doesn’t make a huge difference to the reader. It would be better for it to say ‘As we are a member of X organisation, we can get you the best and exclusive deals’.

8. Keep the body copy as concise as possible

It had too much text making the flyer look busy. This can be confusing and put people off reading it. It can dilute the message you want to give. The purpose of the text (after grabbing the reader’s attention), is to get their interest by elaborating on your headline further, using as few words as possible.

9. Have a call to action

The design needed to clearly tell the reader what to do next. My client wanted readers to visit their website and fill in the enquiry form. The flyer did have this action but it was lost within the main text body. It needed to visibly stand out.

In the end, once my client took on board my advice and got the changes made, the result was a well thought out flyer, following all of the above rules.


Having flyers (or anything else) printed may seem like a small investment when you get the design thrown in free, but remember the flyers have to get the results you are after. It’s not just the printing you pay for but the distribution costs and your time. Of course, there is also your reputation to consider.

Using a professional designer doesn’t mean you’ll be shelling out a huge sum. Yes you can have it designed for free elsewhere, but it’s a waste of time and money if the only result you get is a bad image to your potential customers and no leads.

Need a flyer designed? Contact us.

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