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5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Envelopes & 5 Things You Should

by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

How much could there possibly be to know about mailing and shipping envelopes? More than you think.

For example, did you know these facts about envelope history?

  1. The Babylonians are credited with developing the first envelopes in 2000 BC: clay covers folded around documents and baked to create a hard shell.
  2. The first paper postal envelopes were flat sheets folded and sealed, usually with wax.
  3. Manila envelopes are named after the Manila hemp used to make them (and the folders are, too).
  4. The first window envelope was patented in 1901; the first window envelope for laser printers was patented in 2010.
  5. DuPont™ Tyvek® — a popular material for tear- and moisture-resistant envelopes and packing materials — was initially used as a vapor barrier in building construction.

Envelope Considerations

It’s easy to take the envelope for granted, but it definitely deserves more thought. “The envelope is the first thing your audience sees, so its appearance says so much about your business,” explains Veronica Kido, president of Kido Communications, LLC, a marketing communications firm in Medfield, MA. “You are communicating a non-verbal, visual and tactile message through the envelope so you want to keep in mind the impression you hope to make. Your envelope should reflect both your brand and personality.”

Use these facts about envelopes to choose the right one for the job:

1. Size it right: Size impacts cost and mailability. Make sure contents fit snugly enough and that the envelope is a regulation size for the U.S. Postal Service — otherwise you’ll pay extra to send it.

2. Brand it: There are plenty of ways to display your logo. If you send a lot of mail, professionally print the graphic and your address in color or black-&-white directly on envelopes or specialty labels. If you don’t send much volume, set up a template in your word-processing program that includes the image and information, and then produce them one at a time in color or black-and-white directly from your home or office printer.

3. Show your colors: “If you’re using mailing labels, you can explore a wider range of envelope colors,” says Mitch Dowell, founder and creative director of Branding Experiences, a marketing, design and branding agency in the Baltimore, MD-Washington, DC, area. “However, if you’ll be hand-addressing, you may want to go for lighter colors where the handwriting can be easily read.” Be sure to select tones that match or complement the colors in your logo.

4. Get a feel for it: An envelope is a like a handshake, so choose a product that makes the right impression. “Run your fingers across it to get a sense of its weight, thickness and how it feels,” Kido suggests. “You want an envelope that looks and feels great and that will hold up well in the mail.” Select a material that doesn’t smudge when you’re hand-addressing and holds mailing labels securely. It’s always a good idea to test drive the envelope prior to buying a large quantity.

5. Protect the contents: For important documents, Charles Alvino, project specialist with the mail and ship team at Staples, recommends a padded mailer with stiff edges. Security envelopes with special linings, and Tyvek® envelopes, provide extra protection.

Remember, there is a lot more to envelopes than people think. This advice will help you select envelopes that reflect well on your business and carry your documents safely to their destinations.

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