You might think your company’s letterhead — the logo and company information that appears on your business cards, letters, envelopes and other printed materials — have become less important over time, given today’s rampant reliance on digital communications. Think again.
Your letterhead still makes a lasting impression on everyone who encounters it. It quickly tells customers and potential customers what your business is about. And it sets you apart from competitors who are less savvy about their branding.
That said, what makes letterhead effective has evolved, and it’s important to periodically re-evaluate whether your letterhead is making the splash that your company needs today. Here are some tips for bringing your letterhead to life:
Design a logo that evokes the right image
Your logo is the most essential part of your letterhead. It’s what people remember when they see your business card or mailing. Unless you have a graphic artist on staff, consider hiring one and investing the time to work with that designer to create one that best symbolizes your business. Keep in mind that your logo needn’t be literal — it’s more about what the brand stands for and the emotions you want to evoke. (Apple Inc.’s bitten apple symbol has withstood the test of time, though the tech company now uses a monochromatic apple rather than the original rainbow-colored one for a sleeker, more modern feel.)
Use color with care
Yes, colors pop — so be careful with them. Some of today’s most iconic corporate logos use just one color and those that use more (think Microsoft’s color grid) do so for a strategic reason. Choose a color that stands for what your company stands for.
Less is more. You don’t want your letterhead to look unwieldy with too much text that detracts from its appearance. Consider what details really need to be included in your letterhead. Most people don’t need your company’s mailing address—or, if they do, they can quickly find it on your website. Keep your letterhead sharp and attractive. (Some companies today just use a cool logo and their company name in their letterhead, keeping other vital information at the bottom to keep it looking clean.) “You need to decide on the critical pieces of information your letterhead should convey, and design based on this hierarchy,” according to Sam Hampton-Smith’s 10 expert tips on how to design stunning letterhead on Creative Bloq. “Key information should be positioned obviously and accessibly, while less important information can be reduced in size and tucked away in a less obtrusive area,” writes Hampton-Smith.
Consider total page design
Where you put your logo and company information on the card can also affect how people view your company. Do you center it on the page (like traditional letterhead), or do you left or right justify it — or even put it somewhere unexpected? Where you put it will depend on what kind of communications you’re creating, and, of course, you don’t want to sacrifice clarity. But also don’t underestimate how your placement can affect your image — a creative firm may benefit from having a creative, unexpected design.
Don’t overlook paper quality
The effectiveness of your letterhead isn’t just about imagery. It’s also about feel. Choose the paper’s weight, color and sheen for your business cards and stationery carefully. Getting a thicker or glossier business card can show you care about professionalism and doing quality work — two traits that may be very important to your business image and reputation. Once you’ve invested the time and money in the letterhead design, don’t dismiss how paper quality affects your company image.
You have more options than ever for creating a letterhead that speaks volumes and helps your company build a successful brand identity. Don’t discount its importance.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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