Latest trends in fine stationery, custom invitations and announcements from the Stationers Guild

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Wells & Drew offers some clear and useful advice on the importance of business stationery.   In this fast-moving world of digital communications, companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote their brand in cyberspace.  In many cases, it is wasted expense dollars chasing wasted expense dollars as companies engage Twitter and Facebook, promotional news releases, email marketing campaigns, link-building and SEO (search engine optimization) strategies to outspend their competitors to drive people to their website.    Commonly referred to as ”keeping up with the Joneses,” many companies are now finding that a relic from times past often has more of an impact on brand awareness than keyword campaigns:  business stationery.

Often neglected in this process to gain digital supremacy is the company’s own business stationery.   As we have written on numerous occasions, a company’s business card and letterhead stationery often says more about a company than its Google page placement.   Well-crafted designs, printed on high-quality paper convey an impression of substance and respectability that no amount of digital spin can ever aspire to replicate.

As a company that will soon be celebrating their 155th anniversary, we applaud Wells & Drew for continuing to make fine stationery the “right” way.  For those interested in learning the marketing secrets of top legal firms, please request Wells & Drew informative brochure.    For those interested in learning more about business stationery, please consult the Stationers Guild FAQ on business stationery, or drop into a qualified stationery store in your neighborhood.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I recently came across an online news release promoting “Cheap Office Stationery” by a UK company called Discount Office Needs.    Now, I have no way of knowing – and even less interest in finding out – if this is a UK company or is simply a UK-resident company owned by foreign interests.   What I do know, is that Discount Office Needs can’t even seem to spell their primary business line – stationery – properly. 

In the short news release, stationery is spelled stationary no less than 11 times (spelled properly 3 times).  Furthermore, I discovered a new word “stationeries.”  Now, it is quite possible that “stationeries” is an accepted version for the plural of stationery in Her Majesty’s version of the English language, but it does seem somewhat out of context in an article where stationery is misspelled so many times.

The point of this article is not to promote literacy, but simply to ask the  question:  Would you purchase your business stationery from a company that can’t even spell their main product correctly?  I wouldn’t, but presumably people on both sides of the Atlantic do.

Richard W. May
Founding Member Stationers Guild

Monday, July 27th, 2009

As a stationer, I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of business cards.  Most people have a pretty clear idea of what information they want displayed on a business card, but seek advice from their stationer on card stock, ink colors and how to layout the information on a business card.

There are no fixed rules when designing a business card; however, I believe that a well-crafted business card is probably one of your most important public relations investments.  The business card should create a positive first impression when you hand your card to the recipient.  The paper stock, printing process, ink colors and well-designed layout says as much about you as a person as it does your business.

While there are many online print shops that offer “free” and inexpensive business cards using pre-designed templates, I have found their offerings to be quite unappealing.  Their paper stock is of poor quality and many online companies can’t even seem to print in a straight line.  It is painfully obvious when someone presents you a business card that has been produced by one of these discount printers. 

From my perspective, three things are important for a well-designed business card.  First, and most importantly, is the card stock.  The standard paper weight for most business cards is 64# (sixty-four pounds weight).   While I believe that 96# makes for a far more substantial business card, many people prefer the standard weight.  Crane & Co. offers many different card stock weights and paper colors to choose from and is often a very good choice for business cards.   I strongly recommend that you contact a Stationers Guild store in your neighborhood to see and feel the various options in person. 

Secondly, use a consistent layout for your business card incorporating no more than two font styles.  For instance, if your business letterhead is “right-adjusted” try to maintain that symmetry in your business card.  A consistent image promotes brand recognition.  

Finally, print your card using engraving or thermography.  While engraving is considerably more expensive, colors are opaque and crisp.  Thermography is a resin-based ink which is baked on the business card to simulate engraving.  It is a less expensive alternative to engraving, but still creates raised-print.  Letterpress is also emerging as a very appealing alternative to the traditional engraved business card.  

The Stationers Guild website has a Frequently Asked Questions on Business Stationery section that contains much useful information to help you design your business stationery.

Richard W. May
Therese Saint Clair

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Sheila May, the owner of Therese Saint Clair, writes that “business stationery is the simplest, most obvious and  cost-efficient advertising, marketing and public relations vehicle your business will ever use.”  Sheila goes on to say “Hand someone your business card and you are handing someone your brand, your identity and your professional credibility.  What you are on paper is what you are instantly perceived to be in business.”

In his book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business, Peter Post writes “business stationery is a form of public relations.”  We often say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and many business relationships begin with the simple exchange of business cards.  Says Sheila, “it’s surprising to see how little time business people spend on designing a proper suite of stationery.  They are often shocked to see the difference that fine stationery can make:  it’s like giving your business a fresh coat of paint.”

While Crane & Co. remains a popular choice for business stationery, many fine paper companies have greatly expanded their business offerings.  In particular, we have noted that a number of fashionable invitation designers now have now expanded their calling card and business card lines.  We recently received samples of letterpress business cards from Oblation that are simply stunning and quite well-priced.

If your business stationery could use a facelift, we strongly recommend contacting a Stationers Guild store in your neighborhood.  Also, we would encourge you to consult the Stationers Guild website which has some excellent advice on designing your business stationery.

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Emi Havas and Deidre Karner, the talented stationers at Paperfolio in Summit, NJ, have taken a very important step to promote their bricks-and-mortar store on the Internet:  They have claimed their business on Google.  Emi reports that “claiming my name (store) on Google was the easiest thing I have done on the computer other than turn it on.  And now we’re even going to add some photos.  It’s easy, fun and free and there is no reason not to do it immediately.”

Experienced stationers like Emi and Deidre have discovered that buyers have migrated from the Yellow Pages to online search for stationery services such as custom wedding invitations, fine business and social stationery and distinctive invitations.  Stores such as Paperfolio have a huge competitive advantage over online resellers.  Unfortunately, online buyers often cannot locate an experienced stationer in their neighborhood to discuss paper options, printing processes and to see a wide array of fine papers and designs that are simply not available on the internet.  As more and more experienced stationers take advantage of the local search capabilities provided by Google, Yahoo and MSN, discerning consumers will soon have an opportunity to reconnect with fine paper and the stunning designs that are simply not available on the internet.

This is a story worth following and I will keep track of their efforts to upgrade Paperfolio’s presence on the internet.

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

“You never have a second chance to make a first impression.”  I can’t remember who had this sage but practical piece of advice, but nothing could be more true in today’s electronic workplace.  With website page views clocking in at 1.8 seconds and a “twit” on Twitter limited to 140 characters, you’ve got to make a strong positive impression from the get-go.

With your social and business network persona on display 24/7, one might ask if the business card is still relevant?  Thank you, it is!  In fact, we are seeing a resurgence in consumer demand for tastefully designed calling cards and business cards.   Despite the down economy, customers at Therese Saint Clair are trading in their fast-print cards for more distinctive business cards.  Business professionals recognize that their non-descript business cards just may not make it to their recipient’s Rolodex.  Maybe it makes sense to invest in a little image-building.  One way of doing so is to have an elegant business card printed on fine paper stock.

While Crane & Co. has long been the company of choice for fine business stationery, many other companies are now introducing their own distinct lines of business stationery.  William Arthur has a good selection of business cards printed on 96# paper stock to go along with a growing selection of fine stationery.  Smock Paper has a stylish but somewhat pricey line of letterpress business cards printed on bamboo paper.  Lallie and Encore have some great designs for truly distinctive business cards.

If you feel your stationery is not making that right “first impression” then perhaps a visit to a Stationers Guild member store is in order.  There you can work with experienced stationers to custom design a business card of your choice.

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

As stationers, we are often asked what type of stationery is appropriate for college students and graduating seniors.  In an era of online applications, networked college communities and the largely “in-your-face” but impersonal world of social networks,  stationery may seem to be a relic of times past.  I am pleased to report that the handwritten note is back in fashion and, according to some college recruiters, often a deciding factor in selecting among college applicants.

The handwritten note is a sign of civility, good etiquette and maturity that often distinguishes one talented graduate from another.  In selecting one’s stationery, one must consider the type of stationery to be used in each situation.  For instance, the fold-over note or correspondence card are often used for less formal occasions.  Specifically, a fold-over note might be used say “thank you” to a fellow student, college counselor or the parents of friends who have bestowed a favor.   A half-sheet or monarch sheet might be used in more formal situations such as job interviews or a follow-up letter after meeting a college admissions counselor.  While these forms of correspondence are often  inter-changeable, I have always preferred using  correspondence sheets for more formal situations.  Nevertheless, any form of handwritten note is preferable to none or the insipid email.

When selecting your stationery, there are many cost-saving options available.  While engraved stationery or letterpress stationery is certainly beautiful, it is often beyond the budget of most students.  Guild stationery stores generally carry several lines of boxed stationery from Crane, William Arthur, Vera Wang and other fine paper companies.  Personalizing this boxed stationery with your name or monogram can generally be done within 48 hours.  Avoid pre-printed thank you notes, since they are so impersonal and appear to be ”last minute”  or commercial.   Personlalized stationery can be used in many situations and remains a relevant if not vital form of communication in today’s society.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Smythson of Bond Street is one of the oldest and most venerated stationer’s in the world.   Established in 1887 by Frank Smythson, this London landmark is known for its fine leather goods, beautiful engraved stationery and its distinctive robin’s egg blue packaging.  Stationer to the Queen since 1965, Smythson has undergone several ownership changes in recent years, most lately in 2005 when it was acquired by a  private equity firm.

The UK Press Association reports that Smythson has attracted a number of potential suitors and initial reports suggest a large premium to the reported GBP 16 million  (US$24 million) that were paid in 2005.  While the Smythson name certainly commands a premium, it does seem to be a bit of a stretch given today’s economic conditions to assume that the sale will generate a substantial premium over the 2005 price.   Nevertheless, the weakness of the pound may play into the hands of a foreign investor.

While Smythson no longer sells its lovely stationery through independent stationery stores in the US, Smythson is an exceptional line of stationery with much history and beautiful craftmanship. 

Richard May
Founding Member

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Arzberger is sponsoring a Spring Special for engraved stationery.  Receive free engraving plates with any engraved stationery order from Arzberger’s stunning Stationery Album.  This offer includes a standard monogram or one-line name plate, plus a return address plate (up to a $110 value).  This promotion runs from March 1 through May 31st.  Contact a Guild Member store in your neighborhood that carries Arzberger’s exceptional line of engraved social stationery and business stationery.

Arzberger, formerly Arzberger Buening, is one of the oldest printing firms in the United States.  They are known for their outstanding craftmanship and beautiful engraving dies.

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

As a stationer, I am frequently asked whether engraved stationery is worth the extra money.  Certainly, there are less expensive alternatives and Guild stationers are sensitive to the budget constraints of their clients.   The politically correct answer is that one should evaluate the cost/benefit relationship to reach the proper decision for each person’s circumstances.  With the elections thankfully over, I think we can dispense with “political correctness” and, perhaps, ruffle a few feathers.

There is no question engraved stationery is significantly more distinguished than comparable stationery printed in thermographic inks or flat-printed (lithography).  One needs only to glance at a color palette at your local stationer to see the significant differences in the end result of using the same color ink on the same paper but employing a different printing process.  Engraved ink colors are opaque and the color  “true” when compared to alternative printing processes.

I realize that you can get 250 or more business cards printed at your local print shop or online for around $25.  While the paper stock may be a bit flimsy, the colors not as sharp, the font styles limited and the alignment questionable, the price seems right to many business people.  Most will argue that the objective is “to get my contact information out there:  It is what I do and who I represent that is important.  If the business card is cheap so much the better.”

While one can hardly argue with the need to keep business costs down, is this a false sense of economy?  I certainly think so.  Business cards, like good manners and proper dress say a lot about people.  If you a 30 second window to make an impression, you would like to so in style.   A well-designed business card on heavy stock paper will certainly give you a leg-up over 90% of your potential competition to make that positive first impression.  I find it surprising that small and medium size businesses spend thousands of dollars on attractive websites, logos and advertising yet skimp on business correspondence.

To stand out in today’s marketplace, we recommend selecting business stationery that is at least one step above that of your peers.  The objective is to call attention to yourself and your business.  For instance, real estate brokers seem to all have highly-colored business cards with a photograph.  If you want to stand out from the pack, I would suggest dropping the photograph and getting a business card with a distinctive motif, perhaps engraved in a metallic ink such as gold or copper. Sure, that engraved business card may set you back a $1.00 a card, but it could your ticket to an important business relationship.  With first class postage at $0.42, it seems like a steal.

Whether you need engraved letterhead is a question that is best analyzed with the help of your neighborhood stationer.  If you use more than one color in your logo or business correspondence, engraved stationery becomes prohibitively expensive.  Before commissioning a logo, meet with your stationer to consider how colors and designs will impact on your stationery costs.  By seeking wise counsel early and taking advantage of promotional offers, engraved stationery need not be a cost barrier to creating distinctive business stationery.

Richard May
Founding Member

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