Many companies don’t see stationery designs as an important part of their branding strategy. This explains why they don’t normally hire a professional corporate design agency for their letterheads and envelopes.
Some of them even tend to neglect the appearance of their company’s correspondence, even if it affects the impact of the stationery as much as its contents do. This is a grave mistake that can cause a company to fall behind the competition.
The truth is that what your business communication looks like can be advantageous in building your brand identity. It should showcase that your brand is a reliable service provider and business partner, and reflect what your company stands for.
This article will show you how to decide if a stationery design fits your brand identity.
6 Tips for Choosing a Brand-Appropriate Stationery Design
Stationery is used for important communication, so you must make sure that it is designed to suit your branding strategy. It must also be professional, trendy, and impactful without overwhelming the message written on the page.
Considering what it stands for, here are six tips that can help you choose a company stationery design that is appropriate for your brand:
1. Know the different terms used by designers
Knowing the names of the different parts of a printed design and other terminologies they use can help you get on the same page during discussions with expert stationery designers.
When picking a design, you must first consider how it would look once printed. Proper printing requires designers to include certain parts of a layout, as described below:
- Trim line – This is the term used for the border where the printer cuts the images.
- Bleed area – This is the space beyond the trim, which usually adds 0.125 inches of blank space on each side of the image. The image usually extends to the bleed area to prevent it from being cut off during the printing process.
Bleed also often involves margins and where they are placed. You can decide between having a full bleed (without any margins), but this should be a deliberate decision during the creative design process.
- Safety line – Also called the clear space or safe line, the safety line is located inside the trim line and should be where all the crucial text and imagery are kept.
2. Look for organized information
When picking a design, you should also consider how the information indicated in the stationery would be organized.
To do so, you must first decide its size. For instance, a company letterhead can be printed onto an A4 paper, but it can also be in A5, which is half of the standard letter.
Once you lock in on a specific size, gather all the brand and copy assets that need to be included. These include the logo, company street address, website, email, and phone number for the full sheet. For the half sheet or business card, you can have it limited to the website and phone number, depending on the stationery design.
3. Consider the layout and orientation
Layout and orientation also play critical roles in sending the right branding message with your stationery. Consider looking at samples online and save the ones you like. Then, comb through them again to narrow down which ones fit the type of business you’re running and the brand you’re trying to establish.
While doing so, determine the orientation that works best with the industry your company is in as well. For instance, vertical business cards could work better for window-cleaning service providers that cater to high-rise buildings. Alternatively, a mole-eradication company may choose horizontal cards to match their line of work.
The bottom line is that every aspect of the design should say something about the business. Beyond being aesthetically appropriate, stationeries should exude the same voice and emotion as your brand messaging.
4. Be careful when choosing fonts
Fonts are considered some of the most significant aesthetic elements in brand design. For your stationery, pick a font that will reflect the company’s tone and messaging. It should also be consistent with your logo or company banner.
Of course, you can choose designs with a combination of several fonts; just be careful not to go overboard. Remember that stationeries like business cards have limited spaces to design. Make sure that every element included counts.
5. Play with colors
Aside from fonts, you also need to decide on the color scheme for your stationery that is in line with your brand’s color palette. The thing about stationery pieces is that you can mix and match various colors, depending on the product being designed.
For example, your envelope design may have one color dominating it while the letterhead has another. Background and accentuating colors can also be swapped, or logos can be expanded or replaced with an extended version that includes the brand name.
The trick is to retain the same aesthetic and tone according to your company’s branding.
6. Have a well-thought-out whitespace
Aside from the elements to be included in the layout, you also need to think about what should not be included. In short, think about whitespace.
In a letterhead, designs are expected to include plenty of whitespaces where words would be written in. However, the blank areas also need to be positioned wisely.
This is where the Rule of Thirds can come in handy.
This technique usually used in photography involves the use of a grid that divides the space into nine squares – three vertically, three horizontally, and three diagonally. The Rule of Thirds allows the designer tobreak up the page to achieve optimum visual appeal using a grid that looks like tic-tac-toe.
In this rule, the design should never use more than one-third of the available space for the contact information and logo. The remaining two-thirds should be blank.
Of course, there’s more than one way to do this correctly. You can have these assets placed on top, at the bottom, or listed on one side in a column. The key is to keep it within a third of the page.
Also, you should give some thought to how the stationery will be used. If it’s for long letters, you should choose designs with more whitespace. But if you’re only going to use it to scrawl out handwritten personal notes, you can choose a stationery design with less whitespace.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a stationery design goes beyond finding one that is pleasing to the eye. It also involves carefully curating the different elements involved to ensure their consistency with your brand messaging and the identity you’re trying to establish.
Stuart Harris is the Creative Director at Yellow, a Dubai branding agency, digital partner and advertising company working with progressive businesses to build bold, meaningful brands.