When paper matters
90% of your business communication may be done through phone calls and emails, but sometimes a letter with letterhead is the only adequate medium.
You may need to write a formal letter to invite you to a meeting or write an agreement with a new supplier. Perhaps you will put the confirmation for an employee bonus on paper (and include a hefty check). Or you need to make a statement or write some other document on letterheaded letterhead.
However you use the letterhead, your message will come through more than a simple e-mail. And that’s why you should invest a little time in designing the letterhead so that it is worthy of your brand.
Here are seven tips for designing a letterhead that will keep you happy for years.
1. Decide on the content
What information should you include on your letterhead? It should be enough to advertise your business, but not so many that the page feels crowded.
Some countries have legal requirements for what should be on letterheads. For example, in the UK you will need to provide a registered business address, company number and which part of the country you are in. There are no such rules in the USA. So you should find out what applies in your country.
The accuracy of the information should also be considered. For example, will several branches use the same design? Or will your company move in the foreseeable future?
If so, you shouldn’t necessarily include the company address. E-mail addresses and websites should only be given if they apply to all users and are valid for the foreseeable future.
Use a general e-mail address such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org so that a correct address is given, regardless of who will use the letterhead in the future.
2. Find your way back to your brand
Your company guidelines can help come up with some design ideas for your letterhead and make sure that your design is consistent with the corporate identity. This also saves time when choosing fonts and colors.
For colors, fonts and sizes, you should take a look at the guidelines and also take a close look at your company’s language style. This will help you create a holistic image and personality of the brand, not just a single visual image.
If there are no brand guidelines, the previous branding process can help. To do this, revisit notebooks, look at early designs, or in old emails to colleagues. This enables you to internalize what your company is and how it should be seen from the outside.
Another option is to look at key assets that represent your brand. This includes email templates, websites, printed marketing materials such as business cards, social media profiles and product packaging. With all of this in mind, your letterhead design will be effortless and make it part of your brand’s ecosystem.
3. Choose a font
The typeface you use on your letterhead may already have been selected for other parts of your brand, or you may be starting from scratch.
If the latter is the case, there are a few basic things you should think about before looking at web pages and font lists. These can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
With or without serifs?
Fonts with serifs appear more traditional, while fonts without serifs look more modern and are easier to read even with small fonts.
Fonts come in “families”, ie different types that look similar. If you choose a font with a large family (like Arial or Verdana), you will have many “relatives” to choose from. This can make branding easier because you can use similar typefaces, giving you a consistent style.
Try Paraphrase Tool
The size of the font
You should consider how you want the font to look when printed on your letterhead. The same font can vary surprisingly in different sizes and appears smaller in print than it does on screen. Also, keep in mind that the text will appear next to the content of the letter, which may be of a different style and larger or smaller than the font you choose. Have a few versions printed as a test to make sure that your chosen font also looks good in different cases.
Once you know what roughly you’re looking for, you can explore the wonderful world of fonts to find one (or two) that will go well with your company’s letterhead. Dafont, Typedepot and Google Fonts are websites that could help you in your search.
4. Choose your layout
There are several ways to design a letterhead. As with other elements of your branding, you can go unconventional and take your own approach. If you want to get down to the essentials, there are a few popular letterhead layout designs that you should know about. We present them here.
With MOO’s Printfinity Service, you can get up to 50 designs with a single order, so you don’t have to limit yourself to a single layout. You can select different letterhead for different uses or adapt it to different employees.
Whatever you choose, keep in mind that you are creating a canvas for future letters, not a finished work of art. Your brand and design should be supportive of the content of the writing and not compete with or overwhelm the text. If in doubt, keep your design more minimalistic. As for the font, you should make a few test files and print different versions to see which looks best.
Here are some basic layout options that you can use as a starting point for your design:
- Whole frame Colors and patterns form a complete outer frame in a uniform, square shape.
- Graphic borders Shapes and colors are applied to the content in a creative way.
- Header and footer
Only the top and bottom of the page are designed.
graphic Watermark graphic with weak contrasts in the background of the text
Another option is to use a template for the letterhead. MOO’s online design tools include a wide variety of letterhead that you can use or customize to match your logo or colors. These range from a minimalist layout to more creative designs with graphic elements and colors on the front and back.
5. Choose your paper
A general rule is: the thicker and heavier the paper, the more professional the end result will be. Apart from that, you have other design options such as the paper finish (smooth or textured) and the color of the paper itself. For many companies, white is the best choice, but you can also choose a warmer white, cream color or a very light blue if that fits your brand.
MOO’s letterhead can be printed on original paper (the classic, smooth 120gsm finish that goes with almost any style), or on Luxe paper, the Mohawk Superfine 118gsm with a unique, award-winning finish and structure.
6. Choose your colors
Your brand colors should also be featured on your letterhead. But that doesn’t mean that all colors have to be represented, especially if your logo is artfully designed or very detailed. Keep in mind that the letterhead is only meant to be a supporting cast, not the star of the writing.
If you have a palette of branded colors, make use of it. If not, consider the design of your logo and choose two or three contrasting hues that can serve as a palette.
If you choose MOO letterhead, you can print on both sides of the paper and add additional colors or designs to the back. This gives you more space to play with colors and express your brand without affecting the content of the letter.
7. In a set with other office supplies
To give your letters and even more holistic look, you should also consider other bespoke stationery to go with your letterhead. These can be envelopes, short letters or postcards.
A letter that is sent with a handwritten short letter has a more personal character than the letter on its own. You can also leave comments that don’t necessarily fit into the text.