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Constraints of Stationery - An Opportunity To Be an Enigma

Try to Imagine getting a letter from your lawyer, accountant, or doctor. The information it contains is important, but the logo is pixelated or too small. In trying to create something quickly, the company you're working with ended up with poorly executed design. The presentation of their brand makes you wonder whether this is the right group to trust with your business, your money, or your health.

Sending letterhead or handing out your business cards that contain unprofessional or boring designs can kill the credibility of your brand. Nearly every business needs to create standard stationery items — from business cards to letterhead to envelopes. Understanding how to correctly produce stationery materials can help set your business apart from the pack.

Creating within strict constraints.

Stationery is pretty standard and many times it is designed without much imagination. There are stringent constraints on the space you have and the information that needs to be included. However, if you look at some of the really inventive, creative solutions out there, you can see that constraints are a great starting point for creativity. If you first understand the set parameters, then, instead of focusing on the limitations, move forward by exploring all the options in areas that do allow for creativity. Behance is a great place to get inspiration.

The Green Panther organic restaurant sought a rebrand that communicated a sustainable way of living in today’s urban reality and conveyed the feeling of a jungle without using the color green. These limitations inspired a unique design that uses recycled materials and is carried through all aspects of the restaurant’s brand. By SU PARK.

Principles and best practices for designing company stationery.

When crafting stationery, consider the following questions during your design process.

What is your brand goal? Think of your stationery in a wider context — as an extension of your brand. It’s important not to downplay these seemingly simple designs and how they impact your customers’ perception of your brand. It’s important not to rush through this design process but to approach it with the same creativity you would your logo.

What is your brand personality? Make sure you know how to use stationery as a part of a holistic brand image. A young, hip brand is going to have a different design approach to stationery than a more established company. And companies within an industry will want to find unique ways to communicate how they are different from their competitors. As a result, you need to consider not just your goals for the stationery design, but also the personality of your brand as a whole.

How does digital play a role in stationery? Business cards and stationery are one of the few remaining physical brand communications you hand clients in an increasingly digital world. Tactile experiences are becoming increasingly rare today. So while you should give attention to your brand’s digital appearance, utilize your stationery’s unique tactile nature to stand out by giving attention to such small details as how a business card feels in their hand.

How can you stand out? There are times when clever design tricks are appropriate for a brand, however, it’s also possible to stand out without being gimmicky. Small details, like the quality or texture of the paper you’re working with or the type of printing (letterpress, foil-stamping, etc.), can provide ways to differentiate yourself from the pack. We have fairly preconceived notions of what a business card looks like, so even minor changes to that standard can help catch your customer's eye. For instance, an atypical size for business cards — like post cards — can increase your chance of getting noticed. Think about special finishes, printing on something other than paper or use die cuts to either add aesthetic or utility to your card.

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