The Biggest Mistakes Companies Make with Their Business Stationery

Jayde Ferguson // 18th September 2016

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so when your business stationery is right there in the front line it pays to get it right. When it comes to conveying an image of professionalism to the outside world your company’s marketing materials need to speak to your customers and suppliers. Stylish, smart and well-designed stationery says a lot about the quality of the products and services you offer. On the flipside, business stationery that leaves a bad impression can let a savvy competitor steal the deal from you.

Visual identity is paramount when it comes to stationery design. From appealing images to attractive design and colour schemes that you use to present the business. Creating this identity through quality stationery is an essential aspect of successful marketing. One small detail can boost or break your business. Make sure you don’t make these mistakes:

Not Utilising Finishing Items

Extra finishing items like embossing, laminating, foiling and die cutting can contribute to creating that ‘wow’ factor. Whist standard printing methods still work in the world of marketing, utilising different finishes really make business cards and other materials stand out from competitors. Embossing or debossing tends to be the most popular and produces a raised (or depressed) impression on the paper stock.

Foiling adds a silver, gold or colour foil to the logo or design element to give business stationery a sense of sophistication and elegance, while die cutting offers more flexibility with visuals by cutting out a shape. Other finishes to consider include laser cutting, varnishing and laminating.

Tip: To save on set up costs and production time, opt for newer technologies such as gloss spot varnishes and digital cutting. These help to reduce extra costs as opposed to the more traditional methods of adding finishes to marketing materials. If you choose to go with laminating (only suited for coated stocks), opt for different PMS colours on coated and uncoated paper as this finishing tends to darken the colours.

Jeopardising on Material Quality

There’s no point in having an exceptional design without quality paper stock and professional business stationery printing to go with it. Using premium materials helps to boost the credibility of your business because people will always notice the small details; such as paper stock and special finishes. Don’t be that company that hands out flimsy or cheap looking business cards!

For letterhead the industry standard for quality paper stock is Laser 90gsm and it’ one of the cheaper options. For flyers it’s 130-150gsm Gloss Art and for business cards, Artboard 300-350gsm is the most commonly used; both of these are coated stocks. Because Laser stock is uncoated, you’ll need to be wary of how your branding colours may appear slightly different from letterheads to flyers and business cards.

Tip: Whist these stocks are the industry standard, there’s many speciality stocks available on the market too that vary in textures, colours and thicknesses. As well as being superior in quality, these speciality stocks guarantee more consistency as they come from specific paper mills; whereas Laser and Artboard are bought from mills over the world. Bear in mind though, it’s not recommended choosing an obscure speciality stock as this could result in difficulty obtaining a constant supply.


Lack of Consistency

Your branding should be consistent across all marketing materials, stationery and products. Before you begin putting out any item of stationery, ensure it’s going to have a clear and accurate reflection and representation of your company. Don’t underestimate the importance of an eye catching, attention-grabbing logo that leaves a strong and positive impression in its viewers. The branding – a projection of your business’ image – needs to remain consistent across all marketing materials and stationery.

Pay attention to the design theme as a full package; colour schemes and fonts, while giving complex visuals and other such elements a backseat. You want to create a line of stationery that’s both desirable and functional, but it’s a wasted investment if it’s not consistent or clear about where they’ve come from.

Using Full Colour Instead of Spot Colour for Printing

An easy mistake companies make is using full colour (CMYK) for all professional stationery printing instead of spot colour. Whilst it can be more cost-effective to order business cards in full colour (and print letterheads, envelopes and other stationery items in spot colours), full colour isn’t as accurate as spot colouring.

Because spot colouring uses specific Pantone numbers to create the desired tint, it produces results that are more consistent. Spot colouring also offers more intense colours for vibrant appeal.  If you’re looking to keep business card costs down but still want the advantages of spot colouring, have them professionally printed on base stock sheets. It’s a good idea to also have a greyscale version of the logo to use on envelopes or other stationery items to keep costs down – especially if the logo is in full colour.

Tip: Don’t forget, digital printing can only produce full colour options. If you’re looking to do spot colouring, offset printing can produce both full and spot colour.

Content Clutter

Keep business stationery simple and straight to the point to avoid content clutter. Only use the essential information and contact details, and keep the message of the business clear at all times. If the nature of your business demands funky designs and a higher level of creativity, by all means do it. Just keep things as minimal as possible to avoid distracting your clientele.

Make it easy for consumers to use your stationery, applications and promotional material. Keep essential information clear – like business phone number, office address, email and web address. If you’re a registered business, make sure to include the registration number on business letterheads too. This will give your clients reassurance that you’re an established business that can be trusted.

The following two tabs change content below.

Jayde Ferguson

Online Copywriter at White Chalk Road
White Chalk Road is a specialised SEO and Online Marketing company based in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ or LinkedIn to discuss this piece.

Latest posts by Jayde Ferguson (see all)


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *