Letterhead is a physical representation of your own brand.

The visual design, the fonts, the type of information you choose to include, and even the paper it’s made of all contribute in their own little way of creating a clearer picture of what you and your business represent.

Since the recipient is able to touch and maybe even smell your letterhead, you will be making a deeper connection with them than would ever be possible through a website.

To create the perfect business letterhead, you have to consider more than just who gets to do your business letterhead printing. You have to truly examine your own business as well as how people will tend to interact with it.

Here are some important guidelines for creating the perfect letterhead for your business.

Know your brand

A letterhead will, of course, play a key role in demonstrating the statements and intent of a brand. It’s also probably the most common way to find your logo.

It’s going to be sent out to customers, be part of internal memos, and used for all manner of critical correspondences.

As far as most people are concerned, the business letterhead is one of the things that make a message “official”.

Many businesses fail to understand their own brand. A brand isn’t necessarily what one says on their website’s mission statement, but rather the impression most people have of it.

This failure to understand their own brand can make it a challenge to make good a letterhead. This can often result in a letterhead that feels “off” or incongruous with what the business is trying to achieve.

When you know what you’re all about, it’s far easier to make a letterhead that effectively communicates what you need it to.

Reduce the number of elements when possible

Resist the temptation to add too many elements on your business letterhead design. 

A talented designer might be able to pull it off, but it most cases cluttered letterheads just looks trashy.

If you want to add contact details in addition to your logo, keep it to just one address, one phone number, and one email – if you can.

Avoid adding too many details in the background (such as bold monograms) unless your branding calls for it.

Use the best stock you can

A letterhead is something your customers can hold, feel, and even smell. The thickness, heft, texture, and the overall look of the paper you use can communicate an overall vibe that your recipients will pick up.

Going with cheap-looking, cheap–feeling paper can degrade the value of your message, and by extension, devalue your brand.

Knowing this, you’ll want to use paper stocks that make sense for your brand.

A tech company, for instance, can generally get away with using regular, decent quality paper. But a traditional brand or one that prides itself in making artisanal or luxury products should consider going with something that maintains consistency with their image.

Keep engraved and embossed business letterheads for special occasions

While not necessary for memos and regular communications, embossing or engraving can add a nice, Old World look and feel to your letterhead. These processes allow detailing that’s both subtle and powerful.

In cases where your business is sending important messages, such as condolence or acceptance letters, for instance, these letterheads may be the most appropriate ones to use.

Embossing involves making an impression on thick paper stock, giving the letterhead a nice tactile feel and an interesting 3-dimensional effect. It can be made even more subtle by choosing to keep the embossed details unprinted, which is a nice touch for a monogrammed logo. 

Engraving is a slightly more involved process that dates back over 200 years. It is often considered important for formal letters and documents.

Not all of your letterhead has to be engraved or embossed either. You can keep a stack of special engraved or embossed letterhead for important correspondences and regular letterhead for day-to-day matters.