While almost all business processes are conducted online nowadays, it’s essential not to forget the medium on which business communication started: print. Even in the digital age, handing someone a punchy business card or sending them an important document on a branded letterhead will leave a positive impression.
The best stationery design is that which does two things; delivers the intended information and accurately represents your brand. To achieve this ideal stationery design, you must take stock of your brand values, and the tried and tested stationery design guidelines.
We’ll get into more of that later, but first, let’s understand what stationery design is.
What is Stationery Design?
Stationery design is the process of crafting the look and feel of a business’s or individual’s communication material. Personal and business stationery examples include letterheads, business cards, memos, etc.
Stationery design is integral to branding because it produces the templates used for important internal and external communication in a business. This includes official letters, invoices, memos, and company reports. When an organization has well-designed and on-brand stationery for all its communication, it creates a feeling of consistency, which positions you as a credible, organized, and professional brand among your customers.
Professional stationery design also helps to avoid customer confusion. Imagine receiving two letters from the same company, each with different color palettes and fonts. You’d think the organization is disorganized at best and a scam at worst.
Why the Brand Kit is Essential for Stationery Design
Before the process of designing stationery is started, an important resource needs to be made available: the brand kit.
The brand kit is a guide to your brand’s visual identity and typically consists of logos, images, layouts, colors, and text guidelines (fonts and sizes). Contents of the brand kit will determine the direction you follow with your stationery design.
Each part of the brand kit plays a role in good stationery design:
Your brand color scheme will likely have been created during the initial branding process for your business. Stationery will inherit the same color palette to ensure it is in tune with other elements of your brand. The colors you use will determine what mood your stationery conveys. For example, yellow can be used to show an upbeat mood, while red can be used to express intensity.
Your font choice will depend on your brand’s character. For example, a strong sans serif font will display seriousness, while a delicate handwritten font will show playfulness.
Images help to determine the look and feel of your branding. However, images can confuse your readers, so ensuring they only appear where relevant and have a consistent style is essential. You can achieve compatible imagery by maintaining a similar photography style in all your images or applying the same filter across the board.
The logo is probably a brand’s most recognizable visual element.
The logo should be adaptable to stationery of different sizes and colors to achieve the best stationery design. For example, there should be different logo versions for light and dark backgrounds. However, even in different versions, the essence of the logo should be preserved.
5. Layout Style
Having a similar layout style across all your stationery helps to achieve consistency and brings all stationery types together as one cohesive unit.
Your brand characters and messaging will determine how you position different elements within your stationery design. For example, you can place text and images diagonally for a dynamic and forward-moving feel. Alternatively, you can include lots of whitespace in your stationery for a quiet, minimal feel.
9 Top Stationery Design Tips
There are no blanket rules for stationery design, but these tips can help you come up with the right stationery design for your business.
1. Create a Mood Board
You have a design in mind. Chances are it’s already been done before, so there’s no need to tire yourself with endless sketches. Scan the web to find stationery designs that excite and inspire you, then add them to a folder that you can refer to when creating your design.
2. Use Templates and Predesigned Elements
When you see a design or element (e.g., shapes, typography) that you like, instead of re-creating it from scratch, try to see if it’s already available on the web as an editable template or a downloadable element.
3. Design with Visual Hierarchy in Mind
Visual hierarchy in design is the principle of arranging elements in order of importance. The design of your stationery should guide the eyes of the reader from what you want them to see first up to the last element.
To achieve this, you can:
- Bold headlines and important points
- Use strong fonts and large font size
- Place important information or elements at the top
- Use graphics such as arrows to guide the reader along
- Apply scale to type, shapes, or other design elements that need relative emphasis. This emphasis can be enhanced by applying the right colors to the scaled elements. However, remember that not all fonts look good when scaled.
4. Color Scheme
For the color palette of your stationery design, pick 1-3 primary and 1-3 secondary colors that contrast and complement each other. To achieve variety but maintain consistency, use different tones of those colors or vary their transparency in different areas.
Remember to adjust font thickness and color when necessary so that contrast and readability are maintained.
Choose fonts that match the character of your brand and the type of information to be carried in each specific stationery type. For example, a memo or letterhead can use hard-edged geometric fonts that display a serious mood, while a greeting card can use handwritten fonts that show a friendly mood.
6. Quality is King
Many people would agree that it is pretty off-putting to encounter a brand that does the bare minimum regarding branding and design. For example, a brand that uses a jpeg logo on a large banner leading to a pixelated look.
The same applies to creative stationery design — your presentation determines how consumers view you. You must ensure your design elements, such as logos and images, appear clearly on the stationery. Also, avoid errors such as uneven margins and double spacing in your stationery layouts. They can make you look unprofessional.
Achieving quality designs may require investing in the best software or hiring experienced designers. Doing so may be more costly in the short term but will definitely help your brand perception in the long run.
7. Make it Recognizable
It’s easy to get sucked into trends with your design in a bid to look modern or edgy. However, remember that your stationery design is there to represent your brand.
To make your stationery recognizable to consumers:
- Use shapes and layout structures that match your brand’s messaging
- Use your brand colors as accent colors and background colors
While it’s important to adapt to consumer preferences and design trends, don’t let them erode your brand’s core identity. In fact 88 percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support. That’s a good reason to keep your stationery design original and authentic to you.
8. Keep it Simple
As designer Joe Sparano once said, “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” Your stationery design doesn’t need to be eccentric in order to be effective.
Actually design that is riddled with tons of elements and styles can make the reader feel that your brand is unprofessional. A clean simple design, if appropriate, gives a feeling of authority and confidence.
Here are three essential tips on achieving simple effective stationery design:
- Limit your typefaces – There are no explicit rules for the kind of fonts you should use for your stationery. However, it is a good idea to stick to two or three fonts throughout your material is a good idea. Just make sure they go well together.
You can even choose one font with multiple variations such as italic, bold, condensed, etc. This helps to achieve visual uniformity.
- Use the same design elements across different stationery – You can vary the color, tone, and size of the elements in different stationery to give a feeling of variety.
- Use white space – Proper use of white space can make a basic design classic.
9. Use the Right Materials
Finally, after you have the perfect company stationery design in digital format, it’s time to print your stationery. This is what people will hold in their hands, so you can’t drop the ball here.
Tips for printing stationery:
- Use the appropriate paper and printer – Don’t use regular printing paper for your business cards.
- Quality check the final product to make sure clarity and alignment are perfect.
10 Best Stationery Design Ideas for Inspiration
Good stationery design requires a mix of stationery inspiration and originality. Below are some well-designed stationery examples that can help to guide you in the right direction.
This stationery design uses brand colors that convey the mood of the brand. The brown ties into the product (organic cacao beans) and gives the stationery an earthy tone. The pink color portrays a certain gentleness. Additionally, due to the text in the card being minimal, the colored background and headline have been lowered to the middle to avoid having too much empty space.
In this example, color, typography, and patterns are used in conjunction to create a unique design. The fully colored business cards are very attention-grabbing. The line and dot patterns on the letter template help fill whitespace and bring a feeling of dynamism.
In this design, the logo is used to achieve consistency across all the stationery. Blowing up the logo into a large size and letting it run off the edges makes the design more interesting than if the logo was the same size across all the stationery.
This design is excellent because the brand colors complement each other well. It doesn’t scream in your face but still represents the brand accurately. Another reason this stationery design stands out is its high-end, elegant feel. This style is great if you’re going for a professional look with a touch of sophistication.
In this design, the emblem does all the talking. There are no extra ‘filler’ design elements, and plenty of whitespace is used to achieve a minimal look. However, the front of the business card has a pop of color that attracts the eye.
This design is another one made using a minimal color scheme and placement of the brand emblem. The flower-like emblem gives the stationery a friendly vibe, while the black business card gives a ‘we’re different’ vibe.
This stationery design is ideal for a personal brand because it has a bit of character and is unique and timeless. The design is also simplistic with some fun pops of color, making it ideal for the minimalist who still wants to stand out.
This is one of the more ‘designed’ stationery design examples on this list. It includes using shapes, patterns, emblems, and brand colors. This comprehensive design can promote the trustworthiness of your brand because the design feels ‘complete’ to people unless a minimal design is preferred.
When your brand color is quite strong, like this bright red, you can let it do all the talking in your stationery design. This simple design makes your brand seem professional and ‘well-established.’
Finally, we have a design that uses the brand emblem in different variations and orientations to maintain consistency and brand recognition in the stationery. This is one of the modern styles where bold colors, whitespace, and design elements are used to create a simple but impactful design.
Get the Best Stationery Design Services with Printivity
Whether you’re thinking of a modern, edgy design, or something more laidback and classic, Printivity is here to help you bring it to life. Our team of design experts, coupled with our high-quality printing systems, will ensure your ideal stationery design is in your hands in a timely and cost-effective manner.