The low-budget project can be the bane of a designer's existence, or it can be an exciting challenge. With a low-budget project, the client usually has everything to lose. This letterhead project is probably all he or she can afford, perhaps for months or even years. He has to do the job right, or there may never be a second chance.
You will find that it is possible to do a lot with a little. Pick one item and do it well instead of trying to incorporate multiple design concepts. For example:
- Spend the bulk of a client's budget on one expensive but attention-getting element: a heavy paper, a die cut, engraving, or embossing.
- Rely on a strong design in one or two colors, with ordinary offset printing on common paper stocks.
Producing nice layouts and stunning graphics is only half the battle. Solving your client's design problems is the other half. As a designer, you must try to create practical and aesthetic designs targeted to your client (and your client's clients). Here are a few tips for achieving those goals:
Most letterhead is printed offset, which offers more options than most people use. Die cuts, foil-stamping (a specialty printing service), varnishes, and a variety of other printing tricks can help make a piece stand out.
Most established companies have corporate logos that must be included in their printed products. While corporate identity design goes far beyond the scope of this post, even an outdated or downright ugly logo can, if used creatively, be part of a fresh, new design.
Artwork gives a piece personality. It communicates without words and targets the emotions. Using scanners and laser printers, even clients with small budgets can reproduce personal photos and copyright-free images for their printed pieces.
Use these tips, and represent your client, not as you think they ought to be, but as they are. Your work is sure to do its job. Then you will, indeed, be a great designer.