Businesses use various forms of marketing and communications every day. The design and contents of the letterhead used for each type of communication are often the first thing a prospect sees about a company. Though design and creativity have endless possibilities, companies usually abide by four standard letterheads in business communication.

Standard Letterhead

A standard letterhead usually refers to an entity in whole and is typically used for administrative or service-oriented purposes. The audience is typically general and widespread, and the letter may be a form document such as a default letter, a notice or an invoice. The standard letterhead normally includes only the name and address of the company, as well as a logo or a watermark of the logo if the company has one.

Specialized Letterhead

The specialized letterhead is much like the standard letterhead except that it typically comes from a specific department of the company such as accounting, legal or marketing. The audience may be more interested in the area from which they are receiving communications. For example, in a retailing company, the audience may be a group of vendors for the manufacturing area of the company or a group of auditors for the accounting area of the company. Like the standard letterhead, the specialized letterhead includes the company name, address and logo or watermark; however, the specialty department or area of the company is included, as well as any other images or logos particular to the department.

Custom Letterhead

The custom letterhead is typically more subject specific than the other types and generally comes from one specific person. These letterheads are commonly used for interoffice communications such as memos or presentations. They are also used for external communications and are generally not intended to be used on form documents. Using the retailing industry as an example again, a project manager may have his own custom letterhead to use in sending external communications to their independent contractors. Along with the company name, address, logo and specific area, the custom letterhead also includes the name of the sender as well as her business contact information.

Executive Letterhead

The executive letterhead is much like the custom letterhead in that its intended audience and subject matter is specific to one person or issue. This particular letterhead is reserved for personnel at the director level or higher and is used for purposes ranging from termination letters to offer letters. The executive letterhead may also appear on a form letter from one specific executive. For example, an executive may have many different form letters sent for default purposes. Though they are boilerplate in nature, recipients are more likely to exhibit the appropriate response when receiving communication from a specific higher position as opposed to receiving a form letter sent to multiple recipients on a standard letterhead. The executive letterhead is formatted much like the custom letterhead, although it may highlight the title of the particular sender with a bolder or larger font. The paper is also typically of higher quality.

Design and Format

All company letterheads should be unique in design but as standard as possible in format. The design should show your audience the culture and trademark of your company instantly. For instance, if your company has specific marketing colors, logos or slogans, these should be included in all letterheads. If you use only black and white printing, your logo and slogan should be even more prominent. The font of your letterhead should stand out; however, it should not be overwhelming or illegible to the reader. Specifically, your letterhead should not take up more of the page than needed.