Many small businesses start out using letterhead templates for their stationery. It makes sense: letterhead templates are typically low cost, easy to find and quick to deploy. However, letterhead templates are not the best choice for your company. Instead, custom letterhead design will do far more for your business than an old design used by hundreds or even thousands of other companies. Here's why custom design is better than letterhead templates.
Who are you again?
Imagine that you sell photography services to marketing professionals, and you've recently completed a round of sales letters. You call a couple of days after their delivery to follow up, and you're asked, "Who are you again?" This is a typical scenario when you use letterhead templates: There's nothing visually special or noteworthy about your communication, and your letter is deemed unremarkable. Chances are, it's never even read!
On the other hand, when you deploy custom-designed letterhead - the kind that is visually striking, uniquely yours and powerfully original - that same phone call might go decidedly differently: "Oh yeah, I did get that. How are you?"
Strategies for beating letterhead templates
Some letterhead templates do look nice, and that is more of a problem than a benefit. Think about it: If you think a particular letterhead design is good enough to use for your business, don't you think that others would feel the same way? The biggest danger here is not in being unremarkable - it's in being associated with another company that might have a bad reputation within your industry. Letterhead templates are a big risk because that same reputation might be attached to your firm.
Instead, design custom letterhead that is so different from anything else in your industry it will instantly be recognized as yours (and only yours) when you send it out. Invent new ways to place your logo, contact information and tagline. Use watermarks, lines, die cuts, patterns and foil stamps to set your custom letterhead apart from all the rest. Your letterhead can make a positive impression on decision-makers when you see it as an investment and not an expense.
When letterhead templates are OK
Pre-designed letterhead isn't the only kind of letterhead template available. You can also get letterhead layout templates from your printing company. These templates do not already have designs on them; instead, they're essentially blank canvasses that help you lay out your custom letterhead design with bleed lines, cutlines and safe areas. They also come in the correct color and resolution formats so all you have to do is create your design to get a print-ready file.
Branding your business is all about image and perception. When you use a letterhead template to create your letterhead, you undermine the power of branding and - worse - risk being associated with unfavorable companies. Your customers are seeking something unique and original in you, so you should demonstrate your ability to perform with custom letterhead.