Some methods of business communication have fallen in and out of popularity, while others have stood the test of time. Speaking of, let’s talk about letters and, to be more exact, letterheads.
Think about the last time you opened a physical letter or piece of mail from a company. How did it look? Were there prominent colors, a big logo, or any sort of brand identity that grabbed your attention? Did it seem like it was meant for you?
Details like this can have a surprisingly large effect on how people view your brand. With a well-designed letterhead, you show customers that you care about the details. That’s the kind of company they’ll likely want to buy from.
So, in this post, let’s take a closer look at letterheads. I’ll explain what they are and what they do, then we’ll check out 15 letterhead examples to inspire your own designs.
What is a letterhead?
A letterhead is a printed heading placed at the top of stationery or a document, such as a letter or memo. A business letterhead typically contains the company or sender name, a logo, and contact information, and can be styled to align with the company’s branding.
Also note that the term “letterhead” can also refer to the design of an entire page. For example, the design at the top of the page may extend to a page footer and/or the background of the page. Letterheads can also be placed elsewhere on the page, though placement at the top is most traditional.
Practically, a letterhead helps readers immediately recognize your company and read the message that you want them to read. It’s best to include one in some form than none at all.
But, there’s more to it than that: Though the medium of paper and ink has been replaced by digital communications in many industries, a well-crafted physical branding set is another chance to make an impression on current and potential customers. Like with your website design or any marketing material, use your letterhead to convey personality and distinguish yourself from competitors.
So, how can you accomplish this? Next, let’s look at some model examples of letterheads and some design choices we can take away from each one.
Letterhead Examples with Logos
- Include a prominent brand logo.
- Feature one strong color.
- Embrace minimalism.
- Feature bold, bright colors.
- Leave some space.
- Add a creative footer.
- Experiment with typography.
- Use background color.
- Reposition elements on the page.
- Go off-center.
- Wrap it in a border.
- Draw geometric patterns.
- Place a watermark.
- Incorporate your logo into the page design itself.
- Apply touches of illustration.
1. Include a prominent brand logo.
What we like: By placing your company logo at the top of your letter, you’ll make your materials instantly recognizable. This is one of the most common approaches to branded letterheads: a big, bold logo in the left corner or centered at the top.
The example above features the brand’s logo against a green background to help it stand out and separate it from the rest of the content in the document, without dominating the page or using too much whitespace. It feels decorative, but not intrusive.
2. Feature one strong color.
What we like: You don’t need to be a designer or a marketer to know that color is a powerful thing. It can draw the eye in, guide focus throughout a page, and bring attention to its most critical parts.
Any more than three colors, though, and readers can start to feel overwhelmed. One popular approach is to base your document around one color that aligns with your company branding. The example above uses just one shade of indigo to highlight specific areas of the page.
3. Embrace minimalism.
What we like: That last example was nothing crazy, but we can get simpler. In cases like this, it’s often better to underdo it than to overdo it. Remember that the body of your document is where you want readers focusing, and a minimalist letterhead like this one ensures that their eyes go to the right place.
Plus, minimalist designs have the added bonus of being easy to make. Not a designer? (And don’t want to hire one?) It’s hard to go wrong with a stripped-back look with a prominent logo. There’s no need to go overboard.
4. Feature bold, bright colors.
What we like: Don’t feel like using just one neutral color. Then forget everything I said before and find the boldest set of colors you reasonably can.
This doesn’t mean splatter-painting your stationery. (Though who am I to say no to that?) Rather, touches of brighter shades will accent your designs and add fun back into your standard business letter.
For help choosing your colors, check out our beginner’s guide to color theory.
5. Leave some space.
What we like: Impactful designs don’t have to be hectic designs. In fact, in many cases it’s the opposite. By giving page elements some space, your choices stand out more. Plus, you save readers the cognitive work of separating out different items on your page.
We love the design above for leveraging whitespace (as well as background color) to emphasize its logo. It also lends a bit of an offbeat feel to the design that grabs attention and helps separate the brand from competition.
6. Add a creative footer.
What we like: Footers are nothing out of the ordinary, and you’ll often see them used for placing contact information. By using colors and fonts that are consistent with the letterhead, footers also can make your documents feel more cohesive and balanced.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t inject some creativity into your footers as well. In this example, we see how this footer template adds some personality to a pretty standard letter.
7. Experiment with typography.
What we like: No matter what design you pursue, you’ll have to consider typography to find a font that’s readable, visually pleasant, and in-line with your branding. But, if you want to leave an impression, take inspiration from the example above and incorporate more risky text choices into the page design.
With highly prominently words on the page, you can achieve either a more vintage/retro look, or something more modern, depending on the font family you choose. There’s no reason you can’t also throw your logo in there either, as long as each element has enough room to breathe.
8. Use background color.
What we like: Your business letters don’t have to be plain white all the time. Consider using a colored background for your materials that complements your branding but still allows text to be readable. It’s an easy aesthetic enhancer, assuming you won’t deplete your printer ink supply too quickly.
There’s also a practical benefit to background color: Research has suggested that colored backgrounds like yellow, orange, and peach improve readability. That’s why we like the example above — the pastel tones elevate your branding beyond a simple logo.
Check out our list of favorite color combinations for help deciding which background color to pick.
9. Reposition elements on the page.
What we like: Who says your logo needs to go at the top of the page? By placing your logo in the bottom corner instead, it can feel like signing off on your message with your distinct branding.
This choice seems simple in concept, but the majority of companies stick to the standard letterhead format, so repositioning your branding like this can leave a different, more lasting impression.
10. Go off-center.
What we like: Minimal designs are also conducive to unconventional letterheads. For instance, try placing your letterhead content to one site of the page, rather than in the headers and footers, as the example above accomplishes.
When placing additional text, make sure to keep the visual hierarchy clear so readers aren’t confused by adjacent columns of text. One option here is to set your letterhead text to a smaller font size so reader focus stays on the primary content of the document.
11. Wrap it in a border.
What we like: When done well, a border helps readers feel immersed in your branding. When applied to different branding materials, they can also keep everything looking cohesive, as shown in this example.
We think the above example pulls off a border well. However, be mindful of how borders take up extra page space and may make things feel more cluttered and dense.
12. Draw geometric patterns.
What we like: Subtle geometric patterns are another effective way to distinguish your header and footer from the rest of the page. Again, there’s nothing particularly fancy in this example, just grayscale circles. Still, this aesthetic is effective and achievable, even without a design degree.
One thing, though: Be careful about layering text on top of shapes or any sort of color pattern, as that can affect readability. The example above avoids that issue by keeping text off the circles altogether.
13. Place a watermark.
What we like: A watermark can reinforce the branding in your letterhead without impeding too much in the body of the document. Be sure to turn up the transparency enough that the text is still readable when layered on top.
14. Incorporate your logo into the page design itself.
What we like: Admittedly, this approach works best with simple, geometric logos. If yours fits that description, you can try repeating your letterhead logo across the page in a more subtle manner. As exemplified in this design, the result can spruce up an otherwise routine deliverable.
15. Apply touches of illustration.
What we like: Finally, drawn elements can add back a human touch into your letterhead, and they don’t even need to be fancy to work. Above, we see how some tasteful “blobs” mark each corner of the page and frame the letterhead and footer appropriately.
How to Create a Letterhead
Once you have your letterhead design planned out, it's are relatively simple to make and add to your brand materials. You can a letterhead to your documents using a word processor like Microsoft Word. Here's a tutorial explaining how:
Get ahead with your letterhead.
Don’t make your letterhead an afterthought — instead, see it as another opportunity to reinforce your branding and personality, and to make readers actually want to give your copy a skim.
The best letterhead designs feel fresh by straying a bit from the norm, but not too far that it’s off-putting. Even if you're not a designer, the examples above show us that any business can pull it off.