Designing Better Business Cards

Designing Better Business Cards

There’s a lot to be said for designing better business cards. In this post I want to give you some tips and ideas that will help you evaluate your current business cards, and…

  • Come up with “not the norm” designs that stand out for the right reasons.
  • Reconsider decisions you currently make in your design process.
  • Different print and finishing options
  • Define your business cards purpose, and effectively achieve that purpose.

Look at Other Peoples Business Cards

Evaluating other peoples business cards is something I always do out of habit. I tend not to read into the general design so much as I used to, but most people do, and they do it subconsciously. Without realizing, if someone hands you a busy and cluttered business card, it feels overwhelming. Most of the time there’s little to no place for the eyes to settle and read information because there’s simply just too much information, or too many images on that card. The same can be said for one color cards. I’m sure you’ve picked up, or been handed a card like this before. These type of cards can be effective, and we’ll touch on that later in this post. However, for the most part, these types of cards are usually budget business cards, and on occasion are just a poor design choice of the card owner. If you have any business cards like this in your collection, take a look at them and study the layout and card stock they’re printed on. What makes that card stand out and why?

Diversify Your Business Card Design

Perhaps in your accumulation of business cards, there are some that stand out because they have unique features. Maybe spot-gloss, foil stamping, embossing, or they’re a custom die-cut card? These are great ways to inject a more prominent feature into business cards that can be really attention grabbing. Also, these design decisions add extra tactility and visual stimulus to the cards. There’s a whole host of other design decisions that you could make to diversify a business card. Custom sizes, metallic inks, gloss coats, and laminates. The list goes on… The main focus is staying consistent to your or the clients branding for the business card design, then finding smart ways to incorporate them. Two cost effective ways that I suggest to my clients are:

  • Custom or taller size business cards
  • Thicker/heavier card-stock

These are somewhat less costly custom design choices, and will typically only increase the total cost by a few dollars per 50-100 business cards. Implementing these two choices does two main things. Firstly, having a custom size business card does’t allow it to stack neatly or flush with others. As such, it stands out from other cards because the sides stand proud, and it’s attention grabbing. Also, depending on size, they won’t fit in a wallet or rolodex. It’s arguable if that’s a good or bad thing, because prospects may be tempted to throw the business card away. My argument to that is… Your business card should look and feel so nice, that even if that person doesn’t like you, they won’t throw it away. Again, think about the business cards you’ve collected. Which ones do you have that you know you’ll likely never pick up to contact the owner? Why do you still have that card, it’s memorable right?

business card stack to be painted

Secondly, Thicker cards feel more expensive – making your business seem more professional. A business card design printed on thin paper like 300gsm or 14pt card-stock look and feel flimsy and thin. Think of business cards as a handshake. Nobody feels comfortable receiving a limp wristed – weak handshake. So what would they like about a weak and limp business card?

Communicate Your Purpose & What You Do

More often than I care to count, I pick up business cards out of interest, only to find no clear purpose to the card.
As a designer, I like to critique design. Be it my work, or others. Something I’m seeing more often is; business cards that are so minimal and basic, that there’s almost no information on them. While this may have some method to its madness, most of these cards tell me nothing about the business, what they do, or even who they are. The last card I picked up was for a company called ‘One Shot’. There’s an image of two people embracing on one side, a nice continuous pattern on the reverse, along with nothing more than an email address. It was printed on a plastic business card with die-cut corners and the design itself was quite nice. However, where the hell is the information? Is this person a photographer, a dating specialist, or something else? I can only assume at this point, and it’s a shame because I’m sure after all the money this person had invested in their business cards with design, printing etc… They’re nothing more than a waste of money if nobody knows what this card owner does, and they just become a pretty piece of paper or plastic. Sorry if that last paragraph seems like a rant, I’ll step off my soap box now.

What are Your Thoughts?

There’s plenty more to cover on making business cards better, and theres always room for improvement. Let me know if you think there’s anything I should add to this post, or what you do to design business cards. I’d love to hear what you have to say, and love discussing things with my readers.