The business card is a little piece of your brand the customer gets to keep.
Because of that, it’s crucial to accept the importance of having a good business card and start working towards making one that’s unique to your business. No wonder there are so many styles, paper stocks, finishes, effects, fonts - the possibilities are endless!
… And precisely because there are so many possibilities, it might seem impossible to decide on something.
So it’s time to clear up the mysteries and get to the bottom of it. In simple terms, here’s everything you need to know about business cards - the do’s, the don’ts, and everything in between.
1. Choose the right size
For the great majority, the standard 3.5’’ by 2’’ size is the perfect choice.
There are also mini business cards (2x2 squares), circular ones, custom cuts, different materials — there’s a lot of room for creativity. But despite the unique look these can provide, first consider if they say anything about your brand — and most importantly, if they’re convenient to use. Sometimes, a gimmick is just a gimmick.
The general guideline for business cards is don’t go for “form over function.” If in doubt, the standard 3.5’’ by 2’’ size looks great and fits in everyone’s wallet.
Business cards are small, so keeping it simple is key. It’s good practice to hire a designer to help you create a great business card - small doesn’t mean easy. You have to showcase your brand and display your most important contact information on a very small piece of paper.
A business card should have:
- Your name
- Your logo
- Your website (if you have one)
- The name of your business (if the logo doesn’t say it)
- A phone number
- Your main email
If there’s enough room you can also add your address. If not, it’s fine - customers can either call you, check out your website, or Google you to find that information.
Similarly, if you have room, add a logo of the social networks where you can be easily found. If needed (your profile isn’t your company name), you can add the account name small, like @teamhomeyou. Try creating all your social media accounts under the same title, as close to your business name as possible. It’d make it a lot easier for your customers to find you.
A business card should NOT have:
- A big slogan - there’s no room for that
- Your mission statement - there’s even less room for that
- Borders — because of they way cards are cut after printing, they’re always going to be uneven (maybe even crooked)
- Experimental font choices — getting too cute with fonts makes your card hard to read
- QR codes — it’s a gimmick, and it’s a little inconvenient for customers
And most importantly, it should not have unnecessary flourishes. Business cards are about information.
3. Front and back?
It depends on how you want to use your business cards.
By going front only, you’ll have a convenience advantage. You can leave the back blank for when you need to take note on the card. This is good practice — if you leave a note on the card, your customer is much more likely to keep it.
By going front and back, you’ll have a design advantage. In most cases, the front contains just your logo, which is great for branding and it looks pretty cool. Then, on the back, you have plenty of space to include all your contact information without cluttering.
If you like taking notes when visiting customers, front only should work for you. If you prefer presenting a slicker-looking card with focus on design, front and back is what you need.
But remember printing front and back costs more, and some business card materials are hard to write on - most places that print business cards can offer you examples of such materials.
4. Don’t be cheap
There’s no escaping it: cheap cards only tell the customer you’re cheap, and that’s not a first impression you want to have.
If you can’t find or don’t have a printing service where you live, there are plenty of reliable services online, like MOO or Vistaprint, where you can choose paper type, sizes, overlays, etc., and immediately see how that affects the design and cost. Plus, most of them offer great prices for the most common products like business cards.
Likewise, don’t go cheap on design. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a designer - it makes all the difference.
5. Other ways to get creative
There are many “special effects” you can add to business cards to make them stand out. Of course, you don’t have to use everything just because you can - they usually add to the final cost. But if you can spare a few extra bucks, a little charm goes a long way.
Here are some of the basic special effects you can use:
Most services let you choose where the round corners go. You can do all of them, two opposites, or just one.
A very common and effective touch for business cards, spot UV is a transparent layer that adds a shiny and light bevel to your logo or business name. This works better if the card is printed on Matte or Soft Touch, to contrast with the glossy look of the spot UV.
Spot UV doesn’t work well if printed over white - it won’t ruin your card, it just won’t be that noticeable.
There are lots to choose from - Matte, Soft Touch, Pearl, Recycled, Linen, Colored, Glossy...
But if this is starting to sound like too many things to remember, don’t worry - usually Matte or Soft Touch paper stocks are what you need. They offer the classic look of a business card and are usually the cheapest ones.
As a final extra tip: always have a business card holder with you.
Keeping business cards in your wallet will often damage them before you hand them out — and you don’t want the business card you’ve worked so hard on to end up torn and bent when the customer sees it for the first time. Business card holders are inexpensive and they keep your cards safe!
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