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How To Design Business Stationery the Professional Way

Everyone in the business world is competing for the attention of an audience. Regardless of what your company is or does, no matter what services you offer or promises you can make, you need to find every edge available to get your name out there and make sure people remember you.

Advertising, of course, is your first line of attack. Here's an aspect of advertising that you may be lacking: an awesome, memorable, stand-out business card, and other aspects of business stationery to match.

There are a lot of reasons to look into creating a business card that can do your advertising for you. One reason is that it’s an advertisement that goes home with your client, as opposed to marketing in the paper (which gets trashed), on the web (which can be forgotten once the window is closed), or by phone (who does that, anyway? Not cool people like you). Business cards are small, easy to handle, and relatively cheap. On top of all that, a business card’s native habitat is pinned to a bulletin board by your customer’s computer nook.


Image Source: iStock.com/Rawpixel


The next time your potential client thinks, “I need a bow tie for my cat! And I know exactly who to call!” you might very well thank the awesome business card you’ve created for your unique cat-bow-tie business.

So what do you need to know about business cards? How do you make the most of this small-but-powerful advertising space? And what can business stationery do for your company? Read on as we discuss what you can do to create a truly memorable, stand-out business card and complementary stationery for your company or service.


Basic (But Important) Information About Business Cards and Stationery

So, business stationery. What's the point, right? Nobody looks at paper anymore. Well, you might be surprised. Especially if you take the time and put in the effort to create something that is unique, tone-relevant to your business, and really tells your customer or client something about you and what you do. And business stationery encompasses more than just a business card and a letterhead for sending that one snail-mail letter a year you end up sending. Other aspects of business stationery that you might not have considered include:

This article on InkBot states that business stationery is "the representative of any business," and that the "quality and feel of the paper, overall design and details… can help businesses evolve by winning customers."

So your business stationery can not only serve as a sneak-attack advertising campaign, it is also a kind of ambassador for your business, if it's done right.

That said, here are a few things to keep in mind when starting to outline your business stationery and business cards.


Lines, Bleeds, and Clear Space

Just like with any design, especially printed design, it’s important to consider the space that you have to work with. You can choose to go the bordered route and make a definite delineation between the edge of the paper and your stationery content:





Or, alternatively, you can choose to let the space speak for itself, so to speak:



When deciding on your design and how it will be rendered, keep in mind things like bleed and clear space. “Bleed” in print refers to a portion of printed material that goes beyond the edge of where the page will be trimmed. Basically, it involves the margins and where they are. You can choose to go full bleed and not have any margins, of course. This can be a deliberate design decision:



Or, if a mistake due to not thinking it through, it can just end up in a mess.



Clear space, or the safe zone, refers to the portion within the trim lines, where you can be certain that your important information won't be trimmed off when the paper, label, card, etc., is cut to size. Basically what it boils down to is that, if you want a full-bleed design, it has be designed to be full-bleed. Otherwise, you could end up with business stationery that doesn't exactly say “professionalism!” to your client.

And that is what you want your business stationery to say. "Professionalism!"




Logistics

The range of business stationery products that you end up opting for will, of course, depend on your business, as well as your budget. I already mentioned several options for consideration. Business cards and letterhead stationery are the two most classic choices for a business, and can be relatively inexpensive to procure.

You can choose to design your own stationery (notes on design coming up next) or you can have it done for you, with the variety of graphics designers, design companies, and printers out there. There are also sites and companies that offer the full range of stationery design, like DesignMantic.com, which offers both access to crowdsourced graphic design and the tools to create your own design on a DIY basis.

Whichever way you choose, however, it's important to consider what products you will be ordering, and what adjustments might need to be made for each one. It’s a good idea for a company to have a cross-product design that makes your stationery match.





Remember, your business stationery is your brand ambassador, and as such, you want it to be well-dressed.


Small-Space Creativity: Layouts, Graphics, And Details

Since we're talking about being well-dressed, let’s discuss some of the nitty-gritty aspects of design for your business stationery.


Layout and Orientation

Taking a good look at possible layouts for your different products is a great idea. Especially since there are so many examples to choose from! As is often recommended with any aspect of graphic design, take a while and do a Google search, or hit up Pinterest, and look at some stationery ideas. Keep track of what you like, and why, and then comb through again to see what might be a good fit for your own business.

As you are finding a layout that you like the look of, figure out what orientation you want the card to have. Will vertical work best for your window-cleaning business that caters specifically to high rise buildings? Will horizontal be a great fit for your mole-eradication company?



Remember that every aspect of your design says something about your business. It isn’t just the aesthetics of it; if you have a business that requires a certain amount of dignity, then you should probably opt for a layout with a certain amount of dignity. If your entertainment business is more about quirkiness and fun, then rest assured that there are plenty of quirky, fun layouts out there to take a look at, and adapt for your own.




Font

If you're at the point of designing and ordering business stationery, then you probably already have a few main points of your company’s aesthetics down. Font choice is one of those big ones. Again, choose a font that fits your company’s message and tone.

A combination of fonts can be really effective, but be careful not to go overboard, especially on a small space like a business card.




Color

Another thing that you probably have already decided on is your company’s color palette. The fun thing about working with colors across a variety of stationery products is that it's a great way to mix it up so your cards and letterheads don’t look exactly the same, but still can retain the same tone and aesthetic that fits your business. Swap out background colors, or add in color blocks. Take your logo and make a larger or more extended version when you have more space to work with. There are lots of possibilities.


Image Source: iStock.com/terrababy



Graphics and logos

You'll definitely want to carry through on your chosen graphics and logos, using them across the range of your business stationery options. Logos are one of the main things that identify your business and make it stand out from others. You want something recognizable, memorable, and classic.


Spacing

Similar to the issue of bleed and clear space, being mindful of your spacing can help you to ensure that your business card gets the message across that you want it to get across. You want legible, well-kerned typeface that doesn’t disappear off the page, or at least, not before it’s supposed to. And, since you’re working with a small, limited space, this is an extra important aspect to keep in mind. Be economical with your space; don’t overload your business card with too many details or too much information.




Choice Of Materials

Things you can make business cards out of:

Basically? Everything. The options are wide open on business cards, and there are some really interesting, intriguing choices out there. You may want to get super-creative right out of the gate, but if you’re looking for something a little more conventional for your business, let’s talk about paper choices.

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of companies out there that can help you with designing and printing business cards. Many of them are quite cheap. But one thing to definitely consider when making the choice of materials is what the quality says about you and your business. You could choose to make a business card out of poorly-cut tissue paper, but it’s unlikely that anyone would call you when they needed feng shui done on their garage, even if you’re the only one in town who offers that service.

So have a good long think about the quality of material that you use for your card, and remember that having a well-dressed ambassador doesn't mean that you can send them out in a t-shirt with a tuxedo screen-printed on it. Sometimes you really need to have the real thing. This can mean more of an investment in your business stationery, but if it’s going to win you clients and customers you wouldn’t otherwise have gotten, it will be worth it.


What To Include

When you think of business stationary, you may automatically think of something like this:



Which is acceptable, serviceable, and gets the job done. But you might have something a little more creative in mind, like this:



Now, we've already gone into some of the creative aspects of design, but what’s important to note about both of these examples are some things they have in common.

Things to include in your business stationery:

These all really apply to most aspects of stationery, although you might modify it somewhat for envelopes, labels, and things along those lines.

Other options to consider are:

Basically, you want your ambassador to be informative and helpful, without overwhelming the amount of space that you have at your disposal.


Digital Options

Digital business cards may be a little more difficult to pin to your cork board, but according to SmallBizTrends.com’s article, they’re yet another aspect of the business world that has gone virtual.

One of the big benefits of digital cards, and of digital business stationery design in general, is of course the lowering of costs. Since there are plenty of free apps that can help you with designing and storing, and you can send them via email, instant message, or social media, you can save a considerable amount by fully utilizing these options.

Digital cards and stationery can be used to give the same information, using the same aesthetics, as their physical counterparts. Often, there may be more leeway with the virtual choices, as it allows you more space and perhaps some design options that may have been a little out of your budget when it came to traditional printing.

You still want to consider the aesthetic use of your space, choosing your information and options without overwhelming your client or customer.

Image Source: generalresumes.info


Design options can also extend to social media headers, such as for Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn. Whatever social media avenues you choose to employ, sustaining the aesthetics of your company for any professional appearance is definitely a good idea. If this isn't something that you’ve looked into before, you can get some free design ideas and templates at DesignMantic.com.


Benefits Of Business Stationery

You may think that paper-based products, business stationery and business cards are a thing of the past, but the fact is that these options can do a lot to help you start, grow, and sustain your business. Adding products like these to your general tone and aesthetic of your company can help you to get your name out, and make sure that you’re remembered next time someone needs their cat’s adoption papers notarized in triplicate.

No matter what business your run, no matter how unique your services are, business stationery with a professional look and feel can definitely be a benefit to your company.