In this mega-digital world, it’s sometimes easy to forget the power of paper. In the case of graphic design, particularly the envelope and letterhead design that goes hand-in-hand with branding. When was the last time that you received a printed product from an organization that got you really excited? We bet it’s been a long time—which means that the time is ripe to make a mark

Take a cue from these four design trends below, and try something different:

1. Colors of the Wind

Letterhead and envelopes: colorful
(Clockwise from top right) Christina Yan by Belinda Love Lee, Yitzhak Peretz by Max Pirsky, The Wheel Studio by Taylor Evans, and Castle Quarter Budapest by János Hunor Vári

Be bold! The papers of the past, white with a single logo or embossed design, are out. And color is in! Use the space you have to make an impact with the colors you’ve selected to represent the organization.

Softer colors naturally bring in a more subdued effect, and bolder colors a bigger pop. The nice thing with this adaptable trend is that it can be utilized for almost any style that you’re trying to impart with your branding campaign.

2. Over-the-top

Letterhead and envelopes: Crazy
(Clockwise from top right) Bla Graphics by Lilla Bolecz, EVGENI identity by Evgeni Creative, Personal branding by Sharanya Kunnath, Personal Branding by Lee Marcus

Use of a bold color or two not enough for you? The next step up is this over-the-top trend, combining color with dominant illustrations and patterns as a focal point in the stationery design. This is not for the faint-of-heart, and if you look closely at the designs above, many of them are personal brands for the designers who created them.

3. School House Rock

Letterhead and envelopes: School House
(Clockwise from top right) Marangoni Gino by Concreate Studio, We Print Nice Things by Noemie Le Coz, The Working Capitol by Foreign Policy, B|D Landscape Architects by Passport

A more specific, but also determinately popular, trend is school supplies. This technique utilizes graph and lined paper in combination with form-inspired layouts to impart a hipster, nostalgic vibe that gives an aura of cool.

Tips for this one? Keep the colors fairly subdued—the red and cyan are great for use in text or thin lines, but if you’re going to color the entire paper, make it a duskier shade.

4. Heads and Feet

Letterhead and envelopes: Creative Margins
(Clockwise from top right) B.A.M. by Ashley Moye, le méliès by Thibaud Sabathier, 13&5 Studio by Dreizehnundfuenf Studio, MOCA Rebrand by Multiple Contributors

Finally, if all of the above seem like a bit too much for you, there’s still hope of keeping a more simple, black-and-white design interesting. And that’s to play with proportions. In the examples above, the designers have explored the full extent of the margins, playing with the grid format to place information in different rows and columns along the page, contrary to the traditional top left corner.

Have any of your own letterhead design trends to add to our list? Let us know in the comments!