Business Stationery is often your business’s first impression. I was in a meeting in Dubai with a client last week, we were talking about their new branding project. Bare in mind we don’t even have a brand name at this stage, they start, somewhat prematurely, discussing business cards. Excitedly, my client leaves the boardroom, rushing to his desk, only to return a short while later clutching a business card that he had been given a few days earlier. Now, to a designer, this card was nothing special, but the impression that it left on my client was massive. He’d remembered the card and manage to easily find it in a pile of cards on his desk. What was so special about the card? It was simply printed on a chrome effect plastic card.
Let’s look at a common scenario: You’re at a networking event, a couple of different service providers, offering a service that you are in the market for, hand you their business cards.
The next morning you’re sat at your desk, you pull out the 30 business cards that you acquired during the previous night’s event. You flick through them to find the two cards from the service providers. One a single-sided, thin white card with a colour logo printed on it and the sales reps contact details, the other is a double-side, thick card stock textured paper, with a raised logo and the sales reps name is embossed on it.
You don’t recall which sales rep belonged to which card but you’ll clearly get an impression that the second company is more professional, takes more pride in the impression they leave and thus, emotionally, you’ll feel more secure at the thought of doing business with them. Of corse you want your suppliers to take pride in the work they will do for you.
It’s a simple, yet effective tool and so many companies don’t see the value in spending that little bit more on a quality product when it comes to their business cards. Even really expensive card can have a huge ROI if it leaves the right impression, a mark of distinction. That client might just call you simply based on the quality of your card compared to your competitors. I’m not saying the card will do all the work for you, but if it leads to the call or email, it’s worth the extra you invested.
The same can be said for your whole suite of business stationery.
- Business cards
- Envelopes in various sizes
- Invoices, receipts, purchase orders, shipping labels
- Internal-use forms (inventory, billing orders, supply request)
Use quality paper stock and high-end design, then the impression that your stationery leaves on your audience is almost certainly going to be positive.
Business Stationery that Stands out
Your goal in business is to differentiate yourself from your competitors, this can be through many factors, your cause, the people that represent you, the way you work and the feeling that your clients get. These all go towards the make up your engine. Carry this ‘differentiation’ through all of your companies touch points. You wouldn’t put Bentley engineering in a cheap, badly designed, fibreglass body shell now would you? (I hope not).
You’ll notice above that I mentioned, internal-use forms, as part of your business stationery. What does it matter, if the forms are only seen internally? Your company IS your people, when they see pride and quality in the materials and collateral they are given, they‘re more likely to take pride in the work they produce. Design highly aesthetic collateral. Inspire your people to make great impressions on behalf of the company.
The right content is important. Resist the urge to use your business card or letterhead as a mini corporate brochure, clutter creates a bad impression. Keep the information simple and concise. Show that you are focussed, not desperate.
Essentials are as follows:
- Business cards: logo, company name, contact name, telephone number, email address
- Letterheads: logo, company name, telephone number, email address, postal address
If you are doing a lot of networking events where you have limited time to build a relationship with your potential clients, consider adding a good quality, professional portrait photo. It will help people remember who you are. Consider adding a brief service description if it’s not obvious what you do from reading your company name. As an example, at Animus, we use:
Brand Strategy | Brand Identity | Graphic Design
In summary: Ensure your business stationery is a good representation of who you as a company do business. You wouldn’t wear shorts and flip-flops to a Fortune 500 event, make sure your stationery ‘dresses for the occasion’
There are some great, affordable printing services available online. I highly recommend Moo and their series of Luxe cards. You can upload your own designs or browse their range of templates and they will send you your business cards the next day (If you’re in the UK, might take a liitle longer internationally).