While the whole world has moved continuously into the digital realm, there has been a renewed interest in printed materials for some time. Things like beautiful packaging, and of course business papers.
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If you’re thinking about business papers, you might come up with the boring designs of many stationery or serious typefaces in lawyers’ letterheads. But business papers come in many forms, from sassy and funny to classic and elegant and everything in between. And best of all, they’re part of your brand that you can hold in your hands. With a fleeting e-mail, you can spread your basic message, but the importance of a true letter can not be denied, whether you choose to type it or even write it by hand.
Since business papers can be used for important communiqués, designers need to ensure that their designs are professional, trendy, and effective. All this without crushing the actual message that will be on paper. We’ve put together a few tips and inspirations to make sure that your business papers convey the clearest message as stylishly as possible.
How to organize the information
The first step is to look at the dimensions of the business papers you design for. A range of products could consist of a normal A4 size for letters as well as A5 (half letters), envelopes and business cards. The text and logos will further limit the space you can work with. While the logo, address, web address, phone number, and e-mail should all fit on one sheet of paper, the half sheet and business card may need to be trimmed to the website depending on the design.
Next, think about what the business papers should communicate and how they are used. If a client will use it to write long letters, he will need more white space. If he just wants to write down a personal note, he probably needs less.
The design on the right side maps its information with plenty of white space and a dramatic logo. The oversized logo feels important, but the white space around it makes it not feel like it’s pulling down.
It goes without saying that the letterhead has plenty of white space for written words. But even the white space must be well thought out. A is an essential starting point. Use (which states to divide a page into thirds to get the best visual effect) to plan your layout. Do not use more than one-third of your available space for the logo and contact information. The remaining two-thirds should be left empty. The information could frame the white space above and below. Or, instead, list the appropriate details at the bottom of the page in a column.
Branding and logos
Once you’ve figured out how to best arrange the information, it’s time for the fun part: the design! If you’re working with an existing logo, think about the different ways in which you can use it through branding. The top row uses the simple four-leaf clover logo in various sizes and inverted colors to easily connect the products together. The largest logo is only half on the page and thus arouses interest in the background.
This design keeps the letterhead very simple with lots of white space. The envelope stands out beautifully by its slate color, which reflects the logo. It’s a wonderful reminder of how less can be more when it comes to branding.
Color or no color, that’s the question
Although muted colors are considered to be more professional, you should remember that good design breaks all the rules. Take, for example, the super fun design of 2 + 2 for a consulting firm. It demands attention through its colorful color palette while remaining professional and sophisticated.
Does that fit with every brand? No. Especially considering that color has an impact on printing costs. But it will help the customer to stand out in a crowded market of boring consulting firms! Look at the other hand, how the bold black and white design on the top of a range for a hair salon lends a minimalist weight.
Typography vs. graphic
Other brands go in a clean, tidy and modern direction. Designs like the ones above avoid heavy graphic elements and instead use simple, refined text for every element of brand identity. This is especially effective for clients such as architects, lawyers and luxury brands, whose branding should feel expensive, effortless and tidy.
Finishes and printing techniques
Now that you have an organized, good-looking design, it’s time to think about production. If your design really stands out, this is the moment to think about high quality printing options. Letterpress, hot stamping foil and backside printing give your product a luxuriance that your recipients can feel when they open the envelopes. Although these options are more expensive to print, they are well worth it if you’re about to attract attention. A local print shop may not be able to offer all the bells and whistles like foil and embossing, so be prepared to use a commercial print shop.
It’s important to determine where finished products are printed before you commit to key design elements. Are they printed black and white with a office printer? Or in larger quantities from a high-quality offset printer? Are they even downloaded and sent as a PDF? The complexity of the design must match what your client wants to spend on production. Make sure your files are of the right quality and use the right color space.
It’s also important to have the right files at hand at the end of the process. You can use a variety of programs to design office supplies, but make sure the finished files are not too complex (or too easy) for the purpose of the client.
For example, let’s say a non-profit organization wants a simple letterhead with a logo and a template for envelopes to send letters to its donors. In this case, it may overwhelm a complex Photoshop or Illustrator file, and it would be best to create a template file that you can easily use in a program of your choice.
Business papers sticking out
We all want to leave a good first impression. Your business papers, whether for personal or professional use, often introduce themselves to someone, long before you meet him personally. Follow these tips and designs to make sure your office supplies are really special.
We have just emailed you the first lesson.