Letter and Envelope

How to design an effective letterhead

Your letterhead paper is a representation of your company. Your letter is going directly into the homes and business of your clients. It could make a significant difference to the branding of your business.  It is a marketing opportunity that could bring credibility to your company and embed brand engagement.

Designing an effective letterhead can be challenging.  You want it to look bespoke to your company, represent your values but also communicate all the essential details efficiently.  Here we offer a simple guide to making your letterhead paper the most powerful on your sector.

Simple is best

You might be tempted to over-design your letterhead.  You want to astound your reader with the vibrancy of your brand.  If you do pack your letterhead with details, you will create a confusing mess.  First, your contact details will likely be hard to find, and the content of the letter subsumed into the design of the paper.  Therefore, you need only the essential information.

Consequently, keeping the design simple but striking is far more critical.  It should act as a frame to the content of the letter, so using minimal colour and only the most essential contact details.  If you wonder if your letterhead might be too complicated, it might be best to simplify it just in case.

Create a hierarchy of information

Your letterhead should work to communicate essential information.  The person or organisation writing the letter is likely the most crucial piece of information.  You might want to represent this through your logo, which is a shorthand for your identity as an organisation. Then, it will be necessary for the recipient to know where to respond to the details given, so your contact details are of next importance. 

Other details will likely not be essential to the design but will make your letterhead distinct. You may want to put your awards and additional accreditation on the letter.  You might also think about putting your slogan on there.  However, the more you include, the more cluttered it will look and the harder it will be to find the vital information.

When you have decided the hierarchy, you then need to make the vital information most significant, the following details a little smaller and so on.  The most important information should come first, and so on.  You could put your company registration details in size 6 font at the bottom of your letterhead, as this is not essential for your customer, but the information required by law.

Design for your sector

Your branding on your letterhead should match the industry within which you work.  Like all your branding, the shorthand you use should work with the expectations of the user – while also saying something unique about your company.  Consequently, if you work with young children, it is fine to use primary colours on the letterhead even though the target audience is the parent.  If you work in a legal business, you will want a formal letterhead that represents the seriousness of what you do. As with any form of marketing, the target audience is an essential consideration in your design.

Your audience will also expect there to be a coherence in the use of colour.  If your brand colour is red, then red should appear in the letterhead.  You should use the same fonts that you use in other material.  The level of detail of branding with surprise you.  The font on your letterhead should match your website, which in turn should match the signs in your offices, stores or outlets.

Design to your printer

If you have your letterhead paper professionally printed, you have no restrictions on the design.  However, if you are going to print it from your personal printer, you need to be sure that the design works.  For instance, you do not want to design a letterhead with a full-page bleed when the standard printer does not print to the edge of the page.  Therefore, creating a letterhead with margins is essential if you are self-designing and self-printing.

Stick with conventions

To a degree, you want to follow the conventions of a letterhead.  Some choices should match what is expected.  For instance, your name and logo at the top.  You have to consider the practical application of the letterhead and most word processor software will be easier to configure to a standard design. 

Summary

Simplicity but powerful: you need to use shorthand to communicate your brand on your letterhead.  The purpose of this document is to pass on the information in the letter. Any chance for marketing is a secondary consideration.  Therefore, making the letter content the star but use colour, layout and font to suggest your brand.

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