Having a great letterhead design could give more information as to the mission and values of your company than a letter’s worth of words. That is, if you have a great letterhead design. In the world of online media, you need to decide how to set yourself apart. When someone receives a piece of mail from your business, does it stand out in any way? Is it memorable? Beyond your contact information, what does your letterhead tell about your company? Below we look back at designs from before computers existed, to see how a wide range of famous people made themselves stand out. We will look at great letterhead examples from years 1900-2000, to give you inspiration for making your own business stand out on paper.
Nikola Tesla – inventor – early 1900s
Look at the difference between the letterhead of Nikola Tesla, and his contemporary, inventor Thomas Edison. Tesla’s letterhead is still used today as an early example of providing information about who you are, in images, on the letterhead.
Edison’s letterhead uses one font, a script, and places his name larger on the page. Pretty standard. Tesla’s, on the other hand, showcases drawings of five of his inventions, a drawing of Tesla himself, and at least four eye-catching fonts. Which letterhead would you remember? (Later, Edison updated his to a slightly more interesting design, but not by much)
Harry Houdini – magician – 1920s
Famous escape artist Harry Houdini left less space on his page for correspondence, a style that was popular during the days of handwritten notes; when a person didn’t need space to write a full, typed letter, there was room to showcase your company. Here, there are flags from around the world where Houdini performed his great feats, as well as five drawings of his more fabulous performances.
Frank Lloyd Wright – architect – 1940s
An artist in his architecture, this letterhead shows the quintessential Wright style – structured lines that have come to define Wright’s homes. Arguably one of the most overpowering letterheads, you would have to wonder what note would look like on this paper. Regardless, it is beautiful to look at, and definitely memorable.
Walt Disney – Alice in Wonderland – 1950s
Walt Disney Studios had a different letterhead for each film they released. We could fill a long blog with their beautiful collection of letterheads. Here are just a few more. This particular letterhead leaves space for typed letters, unlike those from the past, but still gives plenty of information about the film – name, characters and the fact that it’s a musical. Still, they could fit their return address information as well.
Bob Kane – creator of Batman comic series – 1960s
Similar to Tesla, Bob Kane let his work speak for himself; if Batman was his most famous character, he let the masked man envelop his letters, literally. While Batman was famous for having no superpowers, certainly it’s a superpower to have such a grasp of minimalism, line weight and space.
David Bowie – musician – 1970s
Who wouldn’t remember getting a letter from David Bowie, especially with such a stark logo on the top? For bands and celebrities, it wasn’t always necessary to have return contact information, as they might just be responding to fan letters. Still, his logo encompases a bigger-than-life 1970’s platform-shoe-wearing Ziggy Stardust persona.
Richard Simmons – workout celebrity – 1980s
What could be more Richard Simmons, that fast, exuberant, happy-go-lucky exercise enthusiast, than a picture of himself, tiny shorts and all, being lifted up by bright, happy balloons? For a man that was all about fitness and happiness, this hits the mark. It is also getting into new territory of full-color photographs used on letterhead rather than colored drawings or two-toned photos.
Jim Henson – creator of the Muppets – 1990s
Both Jim Henson’s and the Muppets’ letterheads changed over time since the 1960s, and this is the letterhead what came out after his untimely and unexpected death, hence “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson.” Jim created the Muppets, and thousands of other puppets in his career. His most famous characters top this Walt Disney letterhead, in thin line drawings.
Need help making your own letterhead? See more inspiration from modern award-winning letterheads here. And try your hand with some free templates to play with via Canva.com. When you’re ready to get them printed, or are looking for some professional advice, feel free to reach out to us at Performance Group.