Sotheby’s document design: invoices and letters

Until recently, if you spent a couple of million on works of art with Sotheby’s, there’s a strong chance you would have got one of these. If you’d spent thirty pounds on paper and staples you would probably get something similar.

old Sotheby's invoice

And so a brief was born: using the same system as many businesses around the world (in this case, SAP) redesign the invoices to reflect Sotheby’s premium brand – and brands don’t get much more premium!

Sotheby's invoice with new design

Some of the features of the new invoice designs were:

  • On-brand fonts (selected by the client’s branding agency).
  • A title making it clear which auction the invoice is related to.
  • Detail about each item that was won at the auction.
  • Clear breakdown of additional costs.
  • A clear call to action in the right hand column, with relevant instructions to complete this action.

And it wasn’t just invoices: it was letters too.

Before: the previous letters (we’ve all seen plenty like this)

The letters were designed as a ‘list of contents’, with instructions (written by Copylab) for each document in the envelope.

After: redesigned (and rewritten) letters using a ‘list of contents’

Sadly, these didn’t make it live in time for the record-breaking sale of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, but if they had I’d like to think they would make parting with $120,000,000 just a little more bearable. 

If your organisation uses SAP for invoices, and you’d like them to be more effective then get in touch. Call me on 44 (0) 7590 850 013 or drop me an email at

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