Best Face Forward: Five Letterhead Design Tips

Your company letterhead represents your brand and presents the face of your business to the world. Professional letterhead says to the reader that you are €œofficial,€ established, and care about the impression that you make on your customers. When designed correctly, it not only communicates useful information to the reader, but also builds brand recognition. I have compiled a few useful design tips below. I hope you use them to create beautiful stationery!

Before beginning the design process, collect the elements you want to include.

This seems obvious, but it i€™s necessary to pare down the text on a page to only the most relevant and useful items. This will keep your design from becoming cluttered and makes sure that your reader can zero in on what is most important. Some items you might want to include:

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

Spend some time considering the image you want to portray.

How do you want your company to come across? Strong and Masculine? Feminine and Elegant? Natural and Earthy? Warm and Friendly? Layout, color, typeface, and paper all work together to build this image and you need to have a clear idea of what you want to say before you start trying to say it.

Keep the design simple, but creative.

  • Your company name should be the most prominent element, along with your logo.
  • Make sure contact information is sufficient without cluttering the page. For example, is a personal e-mail address necessary if you are including a corporate website or general e-mail address?
  • Text should be no smaller than 9pt, and choose a font that is easy to read at the size chosen. Sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica, Futura, Optima, and Avenir are clear and easy to read even at small sizes.
  • Position copy appropriately. Feel free to be creative but make sure to leave enough room for the eventual content of your letter. Remember, this design is a framework for all kinds of correspondence.

Use color judiciously.

It should be used for emphasis and design interest. Draw attention to things you want people to notice. Choose colors that reinforce your brand identity. Some examples:

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, LuxuryBlack, silver, gold, navy blue, burgundy, forest green
Warm, SunnyYellow, Orange, Soft Red, Beige, Terra Cotta

Sample letterhead design, Limousine Service

Choose your paper carefully.

If budget is a primary concern, a good letterhead design will always look nice on standard white bond paper, but if you have a little more money to spend, consider a premium weight paper with a finish or color that reinforces your brand identity.

Sample letterhead design, Healthy Foods

The above tips all work together to create your own unique image. Your brand identity should drive the design of all your marketing materials and letterhead is an important part of that package. For example, a sustainable energy start-up might want to express their eco-friendly side with recycled paper. They might choose colors like greens and earth tones, but they want their design and typefaces to clearly communicate their tech-edge. This would be different from a farmer€™s market or candle-making company, who might use similar papers and colors, but would probably make more organic and possibly whimsical choices for typeface and design. Both of these designs would be radically different from a limousine company, who might choose a more elegant design in black and silver, with script typeface on a linen paper. Know your brand and the image you want to portray before you begin designing marketing materials, and you will speak with one voice. Consistency builds identity!

Some final notes:

  • Consider a printed envelope. It adds to your overall presentation when the envelope matches the letterhead design.
  • Review your proof carefully! Few things are more disheartening in printing than receiving your finished piece only to notice an error in a phone number or address. On your letterhead, that’s a critical problem.
  • If you print letterhead, make sure your staff uses it. You’ll not only save money in the long run (printed letterhead is less expensive than toner or ink for your desktop printer), but you ensure that your customers always see your best face. Uniformity in communication builds confidence in your brand!