How to design business cards

June 15, 2013 by  

In the modern world, it is easy to forget about the importance of printed marketing materials. Despite today’s reliance on the Internet, physical advertisements like business cards remain an excellent method of promotion. For example, at an in-person meeting with a potential client, parting on a handshake is polite, but parting with a handshake and a business card is impactful. It makes a statement, tells the potential customer that you have a sense of class, and reminds them that you will take care of his or her needs.

Today, business cards require a different, updated style. Your business card design should serve as a reflection of your business’s website and online presence in one way or another. Don’t slack when you sit down to design your business cards. They deserve the same care and energy you would put into creating a webpage. A business card is a representation of your business, so take your time and make your first impression a good one. Examine the different factors of design when creating your new cards.

Choose the shape and size

When you think of a business card, what comes to mind? Probably a rectangular 2×3.5 inch calling card with text printed horizontally. This is the standard shape and size for business cards. Using the standard sizing presents a few benefits, both to you and to your clients.

The first benefit is convenience. Most business card holders come in one size: 2×3.5-inch. Most wallets have pockets designed to hold business cards of this size. The second benefit is recognizability. People associate the 2×3.5-inch size and rectangular shape with business cards. The third benefit is cost-effectiveness. Business cards in the standard shape and size are generally more affordable.

However, even without deviating from the standard size and design, you can change it up. For example, instead of placing your text horizontally on the business card, place it vertically. This makes your business card stand out from others in the pile, which naturally diverts the customer’s eyes to its design. Alternately, the traditionally-sized rectangle can have the corners rounded to set it apart instantly. A shape or lettering cutout in a traditional card has a similar impact.

Even though standard cards are 2×3.5-inch, plenty of businesses are changing from the traditional in favor of something different. With the printing and cutting technology of today, your cards can have almost any size or shape you desire. Squares, circles, stars and other shapes can help a business card represent your business’ logo. If you change the shape, why not change the size too. Oversized cards stand out and undersized cards can create a novel appeal. An oversized card that folds down to the traditional size is a way to be unconventional but still pay homage to tradition.

Select the material

Most business cards are a type of cardstock, which is a paper material available in a multitude of textures and thicknesses. Choosing the right texture and thickness can help your business card stand out. A thick business card, for example, can subtly give the customer the impression that your business offers well-built products.

Texture and finish are equally as important as the thickness of your business card. What surface represents your business? Rough and matte or smooth and glossy? Perhaps something in between? The texture is a large part of the impression your business card will make on a customer.

Some business cards are not made of cardstock. Modern designs allow a business to use plastic instead of paper, which provides a smooth surface that can have a frosted or see-though effect. Wood and metal are other examples of unconventional business cards. These are more costly, but do provide a unique appeal.

Pick the color and style

Once you have decided on a shape, size, and material for your business cards, you can get to the fun part – choosing the color and style of your cards.

This is the first-glance impression that can make the difference between a new customer and someone who passes by your business. Look at the current colors and style used on your website and other online presences. Your business card should reflect this to help create a brand image that a customer associates with your business.

Digital printing allows for near endless color choices, yet some businesses opt for a minimalist design. Allowing the color of the cardstock to show through and coloring only the words on the card, for example, can save money, allowing you to print more business cards for less.

However, the minimalist design certainly does not work for every business. A photographer, for example, would do well to display some of his work on his card, opting for full color-printed business cards. If you are unsure of colors or designs to use, pick two that complement or contrast each other well. Purple and green, or pink and brown, are good examples.

Whatever you do, avoid clutter, which can completely defeat the purpose of a business card by making it difficult for the customer to locate your contact information. Choose a font color that stands out from the rest of the design or place pertinent contact information on the back with showy colors on the front. Simply make sure the customer never struggles to find your phone number, email address, or web address.

If you feel torn between choices of colors and designs, buy them all. This doesn’t forever commit your business to using several different business cards, but it can help you make a final decision. Set out the four designs between which you are torn, and whichever one customers take more of is clearly the favorite. Perhaps your customers will favor two designs and ignore the other two. The customer is always right, so letting them pick can be the best strategy of all.

Don’t forget the meaning

The entire purpose of a business card is to present your contact information in an easy-to-find format. Don’t include every single piece of information about your business, as that’s what other marketing is for. Instead, stick to the basics – your business’ name, what it does, a phone number, an email address, and your website address. Add physical addresses, social media usernames, and slogans if you have extra room.