Shakespeare famously wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but that’s not true when it comes to business. Your company name is an important part of your brand, and with 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S. — according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Small Business Administration — establishing a strong brand is vital in today’s commercial environment.

A business letterhead is typically used for official correspondence because it is considered a legal document. It’s also a basic form of branding, as well as serving other marketing-related purposes. Here’s why you need a quality letterhead design — and how to develop one.

Reasons to Design a Business Letterhead

Having a business letterhead indicates professionalism. Whether you use printed or digital versions of your letters, sending correspondence without it looks unofficial and doesn’t inspire confidence. A letterhead lends credibility, which causes your recipients to see you as more authoritative and to develop trust in your company.

Any opportunity to spread awareness of your name, logo and company colors helps to boost your visibility in the market. A letterhead allows you to do this in a non-marketing way. Every time a customer gets a letter from you, they’re reminded of your brand, which increases the chances they’ll recognize it when they’re shopping for the type of products or services you offer.

Providing a business letterhead with your contact information conveniently displayed helps make your company more accessible for customers. A unique design enables your recipients to identify your communications easily in a pile of mail.  It also allows you to either stand out from your competitors — or at least to appear on equal terms with them.

Elements of Business Letterhead Design

To be effective, your business letterhead needs to cover a fair bit of ground. A lonely logo at the top of an otherwise blank page might look elegant, but it’s really only useful for people who are so familiar with your image they recognize it as being from your company. Increase the reach of your materials by including the following items on your letterhead:

Your name or company name

Not everyone can remember a logo, color palette or other symbolic emblems. This is especially true if you operate in an industry like technology, which is saturated with companies using novel one-word names and graphic emblems.

A business letterhead example should clearly show either your personal name or the company’s “doing business as” (DBA) name, depending on how you present yourself to your audience. Use fonts that work well with your logo and colors, but are also easy to read and leave the reader in no doubt about who sent the letter.

Address

Including an address on a business letterhead is important for several reasons. If there’s a chance your customers might want to call on you, they’ll need to know where you are. Even if you do all your business online, potential clients might need to know which state you’re in — for sales tax or litigation purposes.

In some instances, having an official business letterhead that shows your address is a legal requirement. For example:

  • If you’re a sole proprietor, you can trade under a personal name or a business name. However, you use the latter, you must include your personal name and full business address on all documentation.
  • In a partnership, the law requires letterheads include the names of all partners as well as the full street address of the main office.
  • A limited liability company (LLC) is required to display the registered company name, registration number and place, as well as the registered company address.

It’s also practical to include your company’s phone and fax numbers, logo, domain URL and catch-all email address to make sure you can be easily contacted.

Adding a logo

It’s helpful to add a logo to your business letterhead to encourage recognition of your brand through the colors and design elements used. It’s not essential for every business to have a logo, but it’s a valuable component of your business marketing kit.

Whether you’re designing a business letterhead for a service business, a commercial business or a creative business, if you have a logo you should include it to help catch people’s attention.

Whether you choose a template or go the DIY route, the web offers several resources for your business letterhead design.

Best Programs for Letterhead DIY

Developing a business letterhead doesn’t need to cost the earth. A range of programs offer you the option to design both a logo and a letterhead using online tools, and many of these are free. If you have good graphic design chops, you’ll be able to produce something easily enough using Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress or Illustrator. But if you aren’t a designer and can’t afford to use a professional, don’t despair. Any of these programs can help:

  • For those people who use Microsoft Word on a daily basis, it’s probably an easy matter to create a new letterhead template, complete with your logo and other components positioned in the right places. Save it as a .dot file in your Office application and you’ll be able to use it whenever needed.
  • Adobe Spark has a letterhead creator program that you can start using for free. It gives you a choice of customizable templates, with an intuitive interface that’s easy to use. When you’re done, you can download your letterhead in a .jpg, .png or .pdf format for printing.
  • DesignMantic has both a letterhead creator and a logo maker tool, which work in a very similar fashion to Adobe Spark. It’s also free to design your own materials, and you only start to pay if you need advanced features or a large number of designs.
  • Designhill helps small business owners create their own custom letterheads for sending out messages that showcase their brand identity and leave a lasting impression.

Business Letterhead Template Sources

Other sites offering free business letterhead examples are TemplateLab, which gives step-by-step instructions and a wide range of downloadable templates, and Free Letterhead Templates, which has free template designs categorized by industry.

Canva is one of the best known online design programs. The site prides itself on offering a wide range of options, images and design components. You can view several small business letterhead example templates here.

If you want something a little more exclusive and don’t mind paying a small price, StockLayouts has fully customizable packages containing a letterhead and matching business card template for $19.

Designing a letterhead for your company shows you’re serious about doing business in a professional manner. It builds confidence with your audience and establishes your credibility in your marketplace.