A good impression by design: Letterhead

June 30, 2009

Many times letterhead is the first contact that your audience gets or possibly the only contact that they have with your company.

Therefore, your letterhead has got to communicate your product or service, company name and a bit of your personality. It should be simple, but yet unique. Typically, a letterhead is created along with envelopes, business cards and other company forms. Consider presentation when designing letterheads. Should the letterhead be formal or informal? A formal design might suggest tradition, longevity in the marketplace or heritage. An informal design comes across as more cutting edge, playful or modern. In a traditional design, symmetry seems to dominate. Elements are centered on the page or envelope. On the other hand, a more contemporary design may use an asymmetrical layout. Type may be set left or right with a strong vertical feeling. No matter what your approach, simplicity is the name of the game. Your next consideration should be color. Graphics, type and even paper stock should be factored in when deciding on color. Paper choice can add depth and texture to your design solution. I like to consult my printer for suggestions on paper. They are experts and can help you with questions of availability and price. When arranging your graphics and information elements always remember to leave enough room for the letter’s message. Last, always design a second sheet. This is what will be used if the letter is long and needs additional pages. Second sheets are much nicer than using a blank sheet. They should, at the very least include the address line. Just in case the second sheet gets separated from the first page of the letter. My favorite solution to the second sheet challenge is to use the logo as a watermark. I usually make the logo large and screen it back. You logo artwork should be no more than 15 percent opacity to assure readability of the type that will be printed over it. These second sheets also work very well to print other documents on such as proposals or reports. Your letterhead, envelope, biz card and whatever other forms you design should keep a uniform look throughout. Tune in again to read about designing envelopes.

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The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.