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29 Creative Brochure Folds for Direct Mail and Marketing

29 Creative Brochure Folds for Direct Mail and Marketing

Are you in need of inspired brochure ideas? Looking to break the mold for your next direct mail marketing campaign? Good, because I have 29 creative folded print designs from actual Foldfactory print customers to share with you.

All of these real-world examples are featured at the Foldfactory Designer Folds collection at Smartpress, and you can make them, too! Each fold features a link to download a production template for free, which will allow you to jump ahead to the fun part (creating your designs, of course!), rather than spending time doing math and placing fold guides. So, I challenge you to try something new—there’s something for every budget (and every occasion) in this list.

1. Stepped Accordion

Stepped Accordions bring a lot of style, and also a sense of order to the content that is placed on them. This design by Sarah Lawrence for Academe of the Oaks High School uses bold color to visually separate the stepped tabs along the right side. Each tab features important information about the programs the school offers, and the back carries the campus map, social media information, photos and other useful resources. If you like this stepped format, be sure to check out number 5 and number 12 in this list for alternative choices.

Stepped Accordions are great for event promotion, marketing collateral, self-promotion, higher-ed and business brochures, brand guides, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

2. Tri-Fold Pocket Mailer

This bright and modern Tri-Fold Pocket Mailer designed by and for the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture offers a style and capacity upgrade to the classic Tri-Fold format. The addition of a curved pocket on the right side means lots of room for custom inserts, possibly a stitched booklet, a coordinating brochure, or other light materials.

Tri-Fold Pocket Mailers are great for direct mail, coupon/ticket delivery, marketing brochures, invitations, multi-piece marketing packages, product advertisements, educational packets, conference brochures, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

3. Square Folded Cross

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to choose the Square Folded Cross. This high-impact design from Freddie Mac builds on a message through color blocks and simple typography as each panel unfolds. This original design also held an insert in the center. 

Square Folded Crosses are great for direct mail, marketing collateral, higher-ed and pharmaceutical promotion, greeting cards, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

4. Circular Accordion

Shaped formats like this Circular Accordion are so much fun to work with, because the perimeter shape is unlike the rectangular trim of a classic brochure. This design by Catherine Madden features a witty take on “The Art of the Sh*tty First Draft.” Covered in fun, hand-drawn illustrations that artfully work with the circular panel shape, this uniquely shaped brochure is a real stand-out.

Circular Accordions are great for promotions, marketing collateral for events and trade shows, holiday cards, special events, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

5. Wrapped Stepped Double Parallel

This design from RJ Andrews for Visionary Press was a very special project designed to create a detailed, isotope-style map that serves as a cross-section through California. The Wrapped Stepped Double Parallel was the perfect choice for this project, because of the stepped sections that are on one side of the sheet, and then the huge, uninterrupted interior spread that gave him a long, vertical spread for his map design. If you like this stepped format, be sure to check out number 1 and number 12 in this list for alternative choices.

Wrapped Stepped Double Parallels are great for direct mail, promotion, marketing collateral, business and services brochures, brand promotions, city information and tour guides, progress and annual reports, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

6. Coupon Mailer

Who wouldn’t enjoy receiving a fun and bright Coupon Mailer with tear-and-share special offers? This design by Jacob Chavez for Ivinson Hospital’s “Hospital Week” celebration features three colorful coupons as a token of appreciation for hospital staff members—one for food, one for a treat, and one offering a discount on restorative health services.

Coupon Mailers are great for direct mail, coupon and ticket delivery, self-promotion, marketing collateral and business advertising, customer appreciation, pre-event incentives, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

7. Circle Locked Gate

This Circle Locked Gate design by Chris Gottardo was produced as a promotion for an Amrock, LLC business social even. The compact design really packs a punch with bright color, and creative use of the two half-circle tabs that lock together.

Circle Locked Gates are great for product advertisements and business promotions, corporate invitations, holiday cards, special events, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, open house invitations, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

8. 6-Panel Mega Brochure

Going big can be a great choice when you want to make a statement. This 6-Panel Mega Brochure was designed by the team at Resource Furniture to promote their Botanicals line of furniture. The large scale of the brochure allowed for luxurious oversized images of the furniture, and the textures, themes and shapes that inspired the line.

6-Panel Mega Brochures are great for marketing and retail brochures, promotions, direct mail, posters, newsletters, maps and tourist information, attraction brochures, higher-ed, real estate layouts, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

9. Sleeve Mailer

This Sleeve Mailer by Maranda Steinmetz-Robey is designed as a grand opening promotion for Olive’s Juice Bar. A half-circle die-cut creates a focal point, inviting the recipient to pull an insert out of the sleeve, which in this case is an oversized “Buy two, get one free.” Coupon.

Sleeve Mailers are great for direct mail, business promotions, product announcements, higher-ed, special events, invitations, trade show handouts, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

10. Broadside Reveal Brochure

The Broadside Reveal Brochure is uniquely versatile, with an unexpected reveal on the outside, and a traditional 3-panel interior spread. This gorgeous promotional brochure designed by Daniel Lurvey for Nate Ryan Photography and Motion is covered in beautiful imagery that leverages the different views offered in the various steps of opening the brochure.

Broadside Reveal Brochures are great for marketing, product and services brochures, promotions, maps, newsletters, trade show event schedules, conference registration announcements, photography portfolios, special events, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

11. Small T-Cross Mailer

Great mail can come in small packages! This wonderful little self-mailer was designed by Carl Waite for HomeSpotter and features several whimsical, contemporary illustrations by Schmidt Design Company. The short gate panels are a welcome surprise, opening to reveal the final message. If you like this Small T-Cross Mailer, be sure to check out the Large T-Cross Mailer (idea number 18).

Small T-Cross Mailers are great for direct mail, special events, self-promotion, product launches, marketing collateral, trade show event information, business and services advertising, invitations, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

12. Wrapped Stepped Accordion

This Wrapped Stepped Accordion design by Andrew King of Andrew King Art  for The Green Room Collaborative is a favorite of mine because it utilizes the stepped configuration of the format solely for the visual texture and contrast of the images in the layout, rather than for the practical categorization of written content. If you like this stepped format, be sure to check out number 1 and number 12 in this list for alternative choices.

Wrapped Stepped Accordions are great for self-promotion, marketing collateral, direct mail, service pamphlets, product portfolios, tour and product guides, specialty/novelty projects, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

13. Right Angle Gate Fold Mailer

This Right Angled Gate Fold Mailer from FreshCut Crafts is designed as a self-mailer that promotes their line of punch-and-glue paper crafts for kids. The two unique views in the opening experience allow for a setup (gate fold view) and a payoff (interior spread), and lots of real estate for imagery and product information.

Right Angle Gate Fold Mailers are great for direct mail, marketing brochures and promotions, product information handouts, maps and city information, real estate advertising, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

14. Tulip Fold

This Tulip Fold design by Traina for California Association for Nurse Practitioners leverages the beautiful shapes and angles of this designer fold by using soft colors with warm imagery and messaging. It gracefully opens up and and collapses back down with ease.

Tulip Folds are great for special events, self-promotion, greeting and holiday cards, marketing collateral and brand brochures, direct mail, specialty/novelty projects, nonprofit brochures, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

15. Rectangular Folded Cross

The Rectangular Folded Cross is the mail-friendly cousin of the Square Folded Cross (idea 3 in this list). Designed by the internal design team at Integrity Staffing, this self-promotional cross fold brochure unfolds to reveal benefits and testimonials on every panel.

Rectangular Folded Crosses are great for direct mail, special events, self-promotion, marketing collateral, product launches, multi-piece marketing packages, specialty/novelty projects, greeting cards, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

16. 9-Panel Reveal

The 9-Panel Reveal fold is a journey, opening in different directions to reveal 9 pages of content on each side. This beautiful design by artist Jennifer Wilson showcases poster-sized full imagery of her collaged prints that are on exhibit at the Robert Mann Gallery in New York. I love how she uses each side of the brochure to create one large poster image. If you like this format, there is also a Rectangular 9-Panel Reveal as well.

9-Panel Reveals are great for marketing promotions, business and services advertisements, product information, special events, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, posters, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

17. Twist Fold

Twist Folds are pure “Wow-factor,” and the format can carry photos and typography, or it can hold its own with very simple color and pattern, like this bold design from The Idea Emporium, which included an insert at the center of the brochure. With a gentle pull from opposing sides, the Twist spins open effortlessly, and collapses just as easily back into its original folded format.

Twist Folds are great for promotions, special events, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, multi-piece marketing packages, business and services pamphlets, product advertisements, event itineraries and programs, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

18. Large T-Cross Mailer

The Large T-Cross can be used in two layout orientations—vertical or horizontal—and this self-mailing eco-themed design by Amy Breitag highlights a large illustration and colorful photos to drive a community clean-up event. If you like the Large T-Cross, don’t miss the Small T-Cross (idea number 11 in this list).

Large T-Cross Mailers are great for direct mail, promotions, special events, invitations, marketing brochures, services information, event handouts, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

19. Traveling Snake

This Traveling Snake fold offers the unique combination of creative format and self-mailability. In this design by Michele Welsh for the Sisters Circle organization, the panels travel back and forth to reveal personal profiles, and a large single image on the back.

Traveling Snake Folds are great for self-promotion, marketing collateral, direct mail, specialty/novelty projects, educational brochures, photography portfolios, holiday cards, service advertisements, special events, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

20. Tri-Fold with Tucked Cover

Here’s a great way to dress up a Tri-Fold! This design by the Cana Family is clean and simple on the outside, with only black typography on the exterior. Lift the short, tucked cover to reveal soft illustrations and full-bleed color imagery, followed by a holiday message on the inside.

Tri-Fold with Tucked Covers are great for events pamphlets and itineraries, invitations, marketing collateral and promotions, impact reports, service brochures, holiday and thank you cards, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

21. Corner Folder Open Gate

The Corner Folder Open Gate opens in two directions to form a large square. This design by BlackBean for Kootenay Columbia School District No. 20 shares the school’s vision, mission and values in a highly creative and interesting way, using bold blocks of color, illustration, and information graphics.

Corner Folder Open Gates are great for promotions, special events, invitations, multi-piece marketing packages, business and service advertisements, corporate holiday cards, specialty/novelty projects, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

22. Square Petal

The Square Petal has curved panels that look like “petals” and weave together when closed. In this design by FINAO Agency for Optimizely, they used a solid blue color on the cover and let the shaped panels carry the message, while the back panel features bold color and showcases well-known brands.

Square Petals are great for special events, self-promotion, multi-piece marketing packages, marketing collateral, direct mail, event reminders, corporate holiday cards, specialty/novelty projects, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

23. Diagonal Wrap

Wrap formats can be used on their own, or they can hold light materials. This design by Nicole Bullock showcases a week-long religious event program on the interior, and uses bright colors and saturated imagery on the angled panels that fold together and tuck to close. The wrap could also hold tickets and coupons for the week’s activities.

Diagonal Wraps are great for promotions, special events, multi-piece marketing packages, product launches, programs, personal and corporate invitations, specialty/novelty projects, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

24. Double Swinger

The Double Swinger is a wonderful format for events and announcements, due to the overall size, and the focus on the center panel. The die cut allows for layered messaging that flanks the center, and a self-standing, dimensional design when opened, which is leveraged nicely in this design by 27th Letter Media for Sharefest Youth Leadership Center.

Double Swingers are great for wedding programs and special events, holiday cards, greeting cards, specialty/novelty projects, save the date announcements, product launches, business and service advertisements, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

25. Star Folded Cross

The Star Folded Cross is star-shaped when opened, and looks like an envelope when closed. This self-mailer by Iseman Design for Eaton Roofing & Exteriors bears a simple and genuine “Thank you” message for their clients, and uses the shaped panels as a creative way to highlight imagery of their roofing projects.

Star Folded Crosses are great for product launches, special events, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, promotions, direct mail, holiday cards, thank you cards, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

26. Accordion Into Gate Poster

Posters are powerful—and, contrary to popular belief,  they don’t have to be sent in a tube. This Accordion into Gate Poster designed by Nicole Bullock delivers a large typographic surprise for people who love to read. This format could just as easily be used to promote real estate development, a college or university, a sports program, an artists’ photography or illustration, and more.

Accordion into Gate Posters are great for direct mail, posters, maps and tourism information, special events, brand promotions, employee health and safety information, education resources, product information, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

27. Modified Corner Fold Mailer

The layout configuration of the Modified Corner Fold Mailer is really fun to work with. You can isolate the triangular panels with blocks of color and imagery, or completely ignore the panel breaks and bleed your designs across into different planes. This colorful piece by Maranda Steinmetz-Robey was designed as a self-mailer for a High School Homecoming game. The final fold down to a rectangular format is what makes it mail-friendly.

Modified Corner Fold Mailers are great for direct mail, promotions, special events, invitations, specialty/novelty projects, volunteer recruitment, educational information, higher-ed, business brochures, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

28. Two-Way Circular Gate

Designing with circles is so refreshing! This Two-Way Circular Gate event invitation by Cassandra Bryan Design for Tech Systems Group features team photos on one side, with pattern and color on the other. The curved panels fold in from the sides and the top and bottom. A wafer seal or belly band is a nice addition to secure the piece closed. If you’re looking for circular brochure shapes, be sure to look at the Circular Accordion (idea number 4 in this list) and the Circle Locked Gate (sitting at lucky number 7 above).

Two-Way Circular Gates are great for special events, multi-piece marketing packages, self-promotion, marketing collateral, direct mail, specialty/novelty projects, holiday or greeting cards, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

29. Folded Cross Catalog Wrap

If you’ve been liking all of the Cross Folds on this list, here’s one more great Cross Fold idea for you. This Folded Cross Catalog Wrap is a wonderfully oversized format that can wrap—you guessed it—catalogs, along with promotional brochures, sell sheets, college viewbooks, loyalty packages, welcome kits and more. It’s also quite dynamic on its own, like you’ll see in this design by Maranda Steinmetz-Robey.

Folded Cross Catalog Wraps are great for direct mail, catalog delivery, marketing brochures, self-promotion, document delivery, multi-piece marketing packages, service advertisements, and more. Design and print your own! Get a free production-perfect template and instant pricing HERE.

Try Something New!

There you have it—29 Creative Brochure Folds for Direct Mail and Marketing. I hope you found a few things that piqued your interest and motivated you to “Think outside the Tri-Fold.” As a reminder, every fold in this list is available at the Foldfactory Designer Folds collection at Smartpress. Also, a very special thanks to everyone who gave us permission to share their work.

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out the searchable Fold of the Week archive at Foldfactory. You can always binge-watch hundreds of videos at the Foldfactory YouTube Channel, too!

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