5 tips for better letterhead design

Best Face Forward: Five Letterhead Design Tips

Custom letterhead design represents your brand and presents the face of your business to the world. It says to the reader that you are an official, established, and professional brand. When designed properly, it communicates useful information to the reader and also builds brand recognition.

Letterhead Design Elements

First, collect the design elements you want included. It is necessary to pare down the text on a page to only the most relevant and useful items. This will allows your reader can zero in on what is most important. Some items that you may want to include:

  • Company Logo
  • Company Name/Address
  • Contact Name
  • Phone Numbers
  • Fax Numbers
  • Email Address
  • Web Address
  • Company Slogan

Manage Perceptions

Your design will be the “face” of your company to readers. What image do you want to portray? A few options include

  • Strong & Masculine
  • Feminine & Elegant
  • Natural & Earthy
  • Warm & Friendly

Layout, color, typeface, and paper all work together to build this image. You must establish a clear idea of what you want to portray in order to communicate it to your audience.

Sample letterhead design for Sustainable Energy

Simple and Creative Letterhead Design

  1. Your company name and logo should be the most prominent elements.Contact information must be clear without cluttering the page.
  2. For example, is a personal e-mail address necessary if you are including a corporate website or general e-mail address?
  3. Text should be no smaller than 9pt, and in a font that is easy to read in the size chosen. Sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica, Futura, Optima, and Avenir are clear and easy to read even in small sizes.
  4. Lay out your letterhead copy so that it works as a framework for all kinds of correspondence. Feel free to be creative but make sure to leave enough room for the eventual content of your letter.

Use Color Judiciously

Color is a very effective element, when used correctly. It will draw attention to things you want people to notice, so use it for emphasis and design interest. In addition, choose colors that reinforce your brand identity.

Suggested Letterhead Design Color Themes

ThemeSuggested Colors
Masculine, Rugged, StrongBlack, gray, brown, burgundy, rust, dark green
Feminine, Loving, SoftLight blue, pink, peach, light gray, lavender, rose, pale green
Youthful, Active, BrightPink, Blue, Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Purple
Natural, Outdoorsy, WholesomeBrown, rust, gold, burnt orange, tan, dark greens, dark reds, earth tones
Elegant, Confident, LuxuriousBlack, silver, gold, navy blue, burgundy, forest green
Warm, SunnyYellow, Orange, Soft Red, Beige, Terra Cotta

Sample letterhead design for Limousine Service

Paper Choice is Important

A good letterhead design will always look nice on standard white bond paper if budget is a primary concern. However, a premium weight paper with a finish or color that reinforces your brand identity is available for a small increase in cost.

Sample letterhead design for Healthy Foods

In Conclusion

Please use any or all of these guidelines to create your own unique brand image. Your brand identity must drive the design of all your marketing materials, and letterhead is an important part of the marketing package. For example, letterhead for a sustainable energy start-up might feature green and earth tone colors while being printed on recycled paper. The company could then convey their tech-edge with creative design and modern typefaces.

On the other hand, a farmer’s market or candle-making company would try a different tactic. They might use similar papers and colors, but would probably feature more organic design and whimsical typeface. A limousine company would probably use a radically different design. They might choose a more elegant layout in black and silver, with script typeface on a linen paper.

These examples are all very different, yet effective at communicating each brand’s identity to their audience. Know your brand and the image you want to portray before you begin designing marketing materials, and your audience will receive your message clearly. Consistency builds identity and trust.

  • Consider a matching envelope. It adds to your overall presentation and markets your brand to everyone who sees it.
  • Review your proof carefully! Few things are more frustrating than receiving your finished piece only to find an error in a phone number or address. On your letterhead, that is a critical problem.
  • Make sure your staff always uses your printed letterhead. You will actually save money in the long run, as printed letterhead is less expensive than toner or ink for your desktop printer. Most importantly, you ensure that your customers are always seeing the proper representation of your brand. Uniformity in communication builds confidence in your business!
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