One of the first things a new business must create for itself is an official company letterhead. The company's logo and basic contact information should be on the letterhead. Sometimes, extra graphics come into play to create a more interesting letterhead layout.
Letterhead stationery plays a huge part in a company's brand identity. Everything sent from a company to its clients (letters, publicity folders, envelopes, invoices) must create a cohesive, recognizable corporate identity. The company's logo and address must be repeated on all business marketing material. The goal is for the public to be able to instantly know who the correspondence is from by spotting the logo on the company letterhead. The letterhead is another way to ingrain the company's logo, or image, in the public's mind.
A letterhead's main purpose is to convey a message to the recipient. The design of a letterhead should not be so busy, and the graphics should not be so large, that there is little room left to type a letter. Most companies choose to add designs behind the text on their letterheads. This adds visual interest to the page, but designers should make sure that the background image is light enough and doesn't compete with the legibility of the text. A letterhead should visually continue to carry out the company's brand identity with the use of a logo and particular choice of color(s).
A letterhead must include the company's contact information. The business name, address, phone number, fax number, e-mail and Web site address should be large enough on the stationery for the customer to read easily but not take up so much space that there is little room for a message.
Businesses create their letterheads as a means to show recipients of their letters that the business is a serious and reliable company. The creation of a letterhead shows commitment to brand identity. If a potential customer receives a letter written on professional letterhead, it makes a much more positive impression upon the potential client. The better the quality of paper used and more professionally designed a letterhead, the more seriously a potential client may look at the business and be willing to give it a try.
Just like the early civilizations writing on parchment in ancient Rome, clay in ancient Babylonia, papyrus in ancient Egypt and eventually paper in ancient China, the purpose of letterhead has always been a method of written communication. Originally called "letter paper," the term letterhead is said to have surfaced in America around 1890. By the early 1900s, letterheads became smaller and lighter so that the paper would fit in typewriters. By the mid-1900s, corporate logos became a popular design included on a letterhead.