The death of the corporate literature

Corporate literature is the true cure for insomnia. No matter how often I sit in a corporate holding pen prior to a meeting, there is little more tedious than a glossy corporate brochure, or the latest monthly newsletter.

It is a strange paradox where something which costs a company thousands of pounds in design and print, while ineffective, is still so common. Whether it is printed or put in pdf onto your website, corporate literature of this kind has three fundamental problems…:

  1. …they hardly ever get read…
  2. …they are out of date the moment they are printed…and…
  3. …they are boring…

You could probably hand this stuff to people in the street for free and they will not have the slightest idea what your business does and why it is relevant to them. The reason is that they have been drafted and edited by so many people across the business, that by the time it reaches print, it has lost all emotion and become full of corporate jargon and buzzwords.

So what is the solution? Stop spending so much money on traditional corporate literature and think bigger. Nobody has time to read a sixteen-page booklet about your business, including you. People want short bursts of information, fast, and given the vast improvements and accessibility of different types of communication, there are no more excuses.

So here is some inspiration to help you change course:

1. Theme it
Often when I read a company newsletter, I can easily tell that someone has emailed six different departments and asked for a story for the monthly newsletter. It is not a priority for each department so it gets done the night before the deadline in haste and ends up being about something uninteresting. You could easily help both you and your contributing colleagues by asking them to write on a particular theme. This way, instead of your newsletter being the ‘November issue’, it could be the ‘Innovation issue’. It already sounds more interesting, I wonder what is inside…

2. KISS your work
KISS is a great and unforgettable acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. The people that read your literature are doing so because they want to know more about your business. It can be very difficult to learn more if the good stuff is hidden beneath mounds of jargon. Try to be succinct in your language and then break up large blocks of text with quotes, facts, images etc.

3. Infograms
An infogram is a visual representation of both quantitative and qualitative data, but has a sense of art to it which brings out a curiosity in the reader. They can be a perfect way to draw your reader in. You can then leave more detail in the document for the reader to discover, if they really want it. One recommendation, don’t use infograms too often, they can quickly lose their charm.

Here is a great example of an infogram from Zia Somjee ( on ‘How to be a superhero’.



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