13 Designer Letterhead Systems

A design firm’s identity system is a chance to declare their mission to the world. The best business cards, letterheads and other collateral let clients and prospects know what they should expect from a firm at a glance. We identified 23 firms with identities that do just that. Check out 10 on page 74 of HOW’s November 2011 issue and scroll down to see 13 more right here:

Designers/Firms: Mama’s Sauce, Itchy Illustration
Websites: http://mamas-sauce.com + itchyillustration.com
Creative Team: Nick Sambrato, creative direction/card concept; Austin Petito, brand manager/logo design; Brian Boesch, designer
Printer: Mama’s Sauce
Paper/Process: Printed with a 1-color Full Wash Letterpress, pressed on Crane’s 110# Florescent White Cotton duplexed to French Paper Co.’s 140# Black Muscletone Cover, which naturally created a 3-toned edge, as well as a faux emboss of the knocked out areas.

Concept: “I wanted to execute an aesthetically simple card that was complex in execution—something that unfolded its nature progressively as it’s held and examined, all without it being obvious at the onset that the card had a complex nature,” explains creative director Nick Sambrato.

Result: “Intrigue,” Sambrato explains. “To designers and printophiles the allure existing in everything from the simplistic content to the complex construction will prompt the question, ‘how was it done and who did this?’ Just the same, to the layman, the minimal content meeting the high production value will draw out only those curious enough to seek out who put this together. Either way, the people who respond to the card’s nature are the people that ultimately we want to be working with.”

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Designer/Firm: Bureau Rabensteiner
Website: http://bureaurabensteiner.at/
Creative Team: Mike Rabensteiner, art director/photographer/designer; Isabella Meischberger, designer
Printer: Buchbinderei Auer
Paper/Process: Römerturm Columbo and GFSmith Colorplan/ hot foil embossing

Concept: “We tried to keep it simple and sleek,” says art director Mike Rabensteiner. “For a little touch of ‘old school’ we use these traditional wood handle rubber stamps.”

Result: People feel that we put more effort than needed in a project. We especially tried to add goodies like notebooks from brandbook.de, wood handle rubber stamps from Turner Falls Oklahoma, an old school ink pad from Trodat and a CD package from Muji to our stationary.

Designer/Firm: Departement
Website: http://www.departement.ca
Creative Team: Philippe Archontakis
Printer: Prisma Copie / Benoit
Paper/Process: Mohawk papers, emboss, clear foil hot stamping

Concept: “Simple approach for Departement stationery, studio located in Montreal, Canada. Each piece has its own fluoro color. The logo is embossed and clear foil stamp is used for the envelopes,” explains designer Philippe Archontakis.

Result: “Business cards are the first impression you give to prospects,” Archontakis says. “Doing quality cards with small envelopes made people react and because of that they won’t be thrown away in the garbage right away. Your stationery has to be the same quality as the results delivered to clients.”

Designer/Firm: Maas Design Co.
Website: http://maasdesign.com/
Creative Team: Matthew Van Der Maas, designer
Printer: Behrmann, Southfield, MI
Paper/Process: Uncoated Stock with metallic whet and black foil

Concept: “Like many successful identities, the Maas logo mark is very minimal,” says designer Matthew Van Der Maas. “I wanted to show potential clients what’s possible starting with something simple.”

Result: “Given the current economic situation, it’s often difficult to get clients to utilize interesting/expensive printing techniques,” Van Der Maas says. “I wanted to practice what I preach and use my own identity as example to show how memorable a simple business card can be.”

Agency name: Propeller Creative – Vfx & Animation
Agency Website: propellercreative.com.au
Creative Team: David Parkinson, designer
Printer: The Ink Room
Paper/Process: The cards are 84mm x 52mm, letter pressed onto 600 GSM Crane Lettra 100% cotton. Die cut to achieve a pillowed soft edge.

Concept: “This project was a lot of fun to work on,” says designer David Parkinson. “The idea was to keep the design simple, classy and versatile whilst adding a tiny element of fun (an easter egg if you like). The dotted line is actually morse code for ‘propeller’ and is a throwback to the very simple yet effective technology of the past. A propeller itself is a very simple and elegant design that allows a man to fly. Something about that beautiful simplicity really appeals to me.”

Result: “I am very happy with the results,” Parkinson says. “The cards have become quite popular. In a world where quality seems to be gradually disappearing I think people (and clients) appreciate the smaller more exclusive ‘collectible’ things.”

Designer/Firm: Saint Bernadine Mission Communications
Website: www.stbernadine.com
Creative Designer: Helen Eady, designer, Amanda Murray, logo; Andrew Samuel, David Walker, creative directors
Printer: Colourtime Printing and Digital Imaging
Paper/Process: Neenah – Eames Weave Natural White, printed offset in three spot colours.

Concept: “Saint Bernadine is the Patron Saint of advertising, graphic design, compulsive gambling and lung disease, as well as the name of a leading branding, advertising and design firm based in Vancouver, Canada,” explains creative director Andrew Samuel. “This redesign of our stationery incorporates a system of patterns inspired by endpaper designs, confessional booth screens, and that quintessential advertising icon, the starburst.”

Result: “This redesign has been most successful in its extensibility—graphic elements extend well throughout our entire identity, like our site www.stbernadine.com for example, while still maintaining consistency, legibility and graphic interest,” says creative director David Walker. “With a strategic use of 3 spot colours we were able to efficiently create a wide variation in patterns, while still revealing the great paper stock that has a very high ‘touchability.'”

Designer/Firm: FEB Design
Creative Team: Marta Fragata, Miguel Batista, designers
Website: www.feb-design.com
Printer: FEB Factory
Paper/Process: Screenprinting, 1 color
Business card – Plike Black 330g
Note card, CD Folder, A4 Folder, Hand Bag – Bindakote silver 250g
Envelopes – Curious Metallics Ionised 120g

Concept: “For our own stationery, we aimed to show the communicative quality of each one of its materials, so the media becomes the message and the central character of this assignment,” explains designer Marta Fragata. “The tone of the selected sentences reflects the close relationship that we daily nourish towards our customers.”

Result: “It’s a simple idea made visible through little means and no tricks, it strikes the viewer in a very positive and personal way,” she says. Designer Miguel Batista adds, “Another important feature is that we’ve chosen several different sentences or words for each piece; these can be matched to form a big array of different messages.”

Designer/Firm: Red Square Agency
Website: http://www.redsquareagency.com
Creative Team: Richard Sullivan Sr., founder/subject/”Pop;” Ryan Lundy, designer; Ken Ziegler, copywriter; Wally Hitchcock, associate creative director; Diana Nichols, creative director; Julie Palmer, print producer
Printer: Gwin’s Commercial Printing
Paper/Process: Offset printing on Classic Crest Solar White

Concept: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The culture of Red Square Agency is captured in a single photo of founder Richard Sullivan Sr. and is used to inject personality in the agency’s new stationery,” explains designer Ryan Lundy. “A halftone pattern of squares is applied to the image and printed in two PMS colors. The larger image is divided over four pieces of letterhead, 60 business cards and envelope liners, appearing abstract on an individual piece of stationery. Put them all together, and it’s our beloved founder in all his glory.

Result: “Every piece of communication is an opportunity to convey our culture and brand strategy.” says creative director Diana Nichols. “Designing our business papers in a way that is unexpected and surprising brings delight to people and ultimately affinity for our brand.”

Designer/Firm: Fabien Barral
Website: http://www.fabienbarral.com
Creative Team: Fabien Barral, designer
Printer: http://www.letteramagica.pl/
Paper/Process: 600g cotton paper, printed by letterpress with split fountain

Concept: “Since 2009, I change my ID and print cards every year,” says designer Fabien Barral. “This time I do a split fountain print, which means 2 or 3 inks are applied and mixed together while it prints so most of the cards are different from one another.”

Result: “The business card is the most important tool you could use,” he says. “It has to create an emotion in the person you give it to; this emotion will link you to the card. This small piece of cardboard should express yourself. From my own experience, nothing is more appropriate than letterpress printing to give this emotion. When I give my own business card, people touch it, try to understand how it is printed and after, they give me their card with some apologies. My business cards express more about me than a complete portfolio.”

Designer/Firm: Nina Gregier
Website: http://ninagregier.com
Creative Team: Nina Gregier, designer
Paper/Process: 250 gsm black paper Fabriano and several colors of cotton thread

Concept: “I have designed my personal promo cards in reference to my latest project—thread embroidered typography,” explains designer Nina Gregier. “During the process of building simple letters and shapes I wanted to find another unexpected graphic form. At this stage I started to experiment with thread embroidering letters on paper.”

Result: ” The cards are handmade in limited edition, which makes them very unique,” she says. “Also the graphic form is original and the cards work on the sense of touch.”

Designer/Firm: Monogram Design
Website: http://www.monogramdesign.com
Creative Team: Amy Jessica Nadaskay, creative director/designer/typographer; Segolene Hutter, designer; Eran Thomson, copywriter; Cindy Rodriquez, sewer
Printers: Dickson’s Printing, Solis Labels
Paper/Process: Neenah Classic (business cards are Duplexed), engraving, sewing

Concept: “The brief was to represent Monogram Design through a stationery suite,” explains creative director Amy Jessica Nadaskay. “Monogram is a strategic and creative brand consultancy in Sydney, Australia, who create bespoke, tailor-made solutions for a variety of premium lifestyle clients.

“The design and execution needed to showcase the care and attention to detail/ craftsmanship with which Monogram executes their work. The messaging needed to champion the attitude with which Monogram carries out business; that is with a playful sense of humour.

In a world where designers are everywhere, and tactile craftsmanship has taken a back seat, Monogram needed to stand out and wow the public. While most designers send email blasts of their own case studies, we wanted to promote ourselves genuinely and thoughtfully through hand-written personalised notes sent along with an invitation to share a beverage and a chat.”

Result: “So far so good,” Nadaskay says. “There are two common reactions to this business card. One is, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’ and the other is, ‘This is my favourite card of all time!’ We’ve even heard of people re-designing their cards to raise the ante! And with a 68% response rate to the invitations, we must be doing something right.”

Designer/Firm: Moglea Paperie
Website: www.moglea.tumblr.com
Creative Team: Meg Gleason, designer
Printer: Moglea Paperie
Paper/Process: Letterpress Printing on Crane’s Lettra Fluorescent White 600 and 300 gsm

Concept: “Moglea’s brand is bright, cheerful and intricate, and the stationery system reflects our unique design aesthetic,” says designer Meg Gleason.

Result: “Like brothers and sisters, each component is distinct from the others, but they fit nicely together as a system,” she explains. “Letterpress printing accentuates the details, adding depth to the typography and delicate illustrations.”

Designer/Firm: We Are Not You
Websites: http://wearenotyou.com, http://youarenotus.com, http://www.1onehundred.com
Creative Team: Jarred Eberhardt, designer
Printer: Aardvark letterpress; http://aardvarkletterpress.com
Paper/Process: French Paper Poptone Lemon Drop & Poptone Black Licorice, Letterpress, Duplexing, PMS, Foil

Concept: “In looking at the recent state of WANY we decided it best to rebrand, taking a fresh perspective to communicate our recent growth and direction,” says designer Jarred Eberhardt. “We wanted to scrap our previous mark and start fresh. We wanted a logo that communicated the very bold statement, We Are Not You. The new logo needed to be simple and bold; an eye catcher with an authoritative personality. For all copy we were drawn to DIN. For our main mark we wanted something that could accent DIN and stand on its own. We immediately began designing a stencil font that could hold up both visually and informatively, this of course until we met Vacant Regular. Vacant said everything we wanted to say, and said it with a certain playful energy. Next, was on to our core color scheme. When set next to one another, our yellow and black would visually stand from anything we set them on. Add the font, flip the colors and the final result said exactly what we wanted to say. We Are Not You.”

Result: “I am very happy in the way that the branding came out,” Eberhardt says. “With the upcoming relaunch of our main site, our blog www.youarenotus.com and our future market place www.1onehundred.com, every mark is easily read that it is under one brand and all of the same entity. That is exactly what we were after. I am especially happy with the way the business cards work with the mirroring of the logo showcasing more or less only the opposite color.”