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
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, theaudience
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.