6 Rules for a Successful Business Card Design
27 million business cards are printed every day. So if you think that business cards are a thing of the past then think again! But this doesn't mean they always work. Out of the 10 billion cards printed each year, 8 billion ends up in the trash within a week, so your business card design needs to be truly good to reach your potential customers.
That's 80% of business cards that people don't hold on to! But business cards can increase a company's sales. So you want yours to be in the 20% that people hold onto, right?
Once again, you need to make sure your business card design is the best it can be. And fortunately, we're here to help. Read on to find out our six top tips on how to design a business card that will grab your client's attention and keep it, and get some innovative design ideas you could consider applying.
1. Understand The Basic Design Principles
Understanding this will ensure you don't waste time on designs that don't work. And you don't want to spend loads of cash on designs that come out crooked or out of proportion do you? So what are these basic design principles?
Keep your copy at least 5mm from the trim edge. This is so the printers can cut down your business cards without affecting the design. This extra space is also known as 'the bleed'. Some printers and design software provide their own bleed. So you can also work with the bleed provided. Or you can request the specific bleed from your printer.
This will ensure nothing important gets cut off your business card. And that it looks professional. No one wants the most noticeable thing about their business card to be that it is off-center!
And when designing your business card always use a grid. This keeps your design in proportion to ensure it looks professional. Grids also work with the Golden Ratio. This means your cards will be aesthetically pleasing for your clients.
Make sure your colour and image printing is of decent quality. 300dpi is best for reproducing an image. And unless you're designing in spot colours, use CYMK. Finally, stick with a business card size that people are happy with. No one wants to receive a business card that they could string up with their Christmas cards!
Business cards are usually around 55 x 85 mm. While it might be tempting to change the size to make them eye-catching, don't go for anything massive. You want something that people are happy to carry in their wallet, not ditch in the bin!
2. Include The Basics
And not much else! Your business card should interest the client. And it should let them know about your service. So it should be memorable without making their head spin. A clear positioning statement about your business will tell them what you do.
Or a call to action will tell them what to do next. But if you're giving them the business card in person then they'll already know this! So what else should be on there?
Simple - the information they need to find you.
Your name, title, business name, phone number, email address, and website will be enough. The beauty of living in an age of technology is that you're easier to find than ever. Even with a little information, they'll be able to find you with a quick Google search.
It might be tempting to put your social media on your business card. Only include these if they're relevant to your business. Otherwise, the design of your business card will become overcrowded.
3. Consider Using Interesting Design Techniques
We can all remember a really unique business card that we've received, can't we? The likelihood is special design techniques created these eye-catching designs. They are 'out of the box'.
So what techniques are available to you?
Special finishes can give your business card design something a bit special. Foil blocking, spot-UV, or metallic inks can make your business cards more engaging. Or you could use cutouts. A cut out from the inside of the card or rounded corners will catch a client's eye.
And the longer they look, the more of your information they take in. Which is the whole point, isn't it? Changing up the material you choose to print on can create a more unique card. You can print business cards on anything; from metal to wood to edible materials like dog biscuits! So consider moving away from the traditional card stock.
Being environmentally friendly and printing on recycled materials is sure to impress your clients! Think carefully about all the elements of your business card.
Choice of colour affects the first impression. And different colours evoke different emotions. For example, green encourages feelings of trust. So think carefully about how you use them.
But the most important thing to remember is this. Your business card design should be in line with your brand. Don't get carried away by crazy design choices. If your card isn't in line with your brand then it will confuse your clients.
Imagine if someone gave you a slate business card embossed with a metallic font. But the business was for a local tutor. It'd confuse you, right? Avoid this by keeping your design in line with your brand. Here are some specific and innovative business card design ideas you could try to implement.
A New Shape
Quick - imagine a business card! Chances are that you imagined a plain, white rectangle. If you want to make cool business cards, consider changing the shape. For example, some make their business cards shaped like bread or even Space Invaders aliens! Whatever you choose, a non-standard shape helps your card stand out.
If you really want your business to stand out, you should make your card stand out. And that means including 3D elements. Cartoonists, for example, can bring their characters to life by making parts of them pop off the card.
And this also adds a pleasing texture to the card that makes it hard to put down. Imagine how fun a business card shaped like a video game controller could be. Don't forget to throw in the 3D buttons!
Bold Font, Bold Front
Most business cards have fonts straight out of a college essay and in certain circumstances, that’s fine. But, you could experiment with big and bold fonts. And this pairs well with creating a bold front of your card. For example, the front could just be your name or business name in a wild font. This makes people want to flip it over and find out more.
Make It Interactive
Most business cards are effectively passive. They go in pockets or just the trash without people doing much more than holding them. One solution to this is to create an interactive card. Maybe it's a sturdy card that can serve as a keychain, or an image customers complete by sticking fingers through the card.
Think about how weirdly successful "fidget" devices became. Give someone a card they can interact with and you will keep their attention.
If you are a graphic designer, we hope that you have created some great icons and logos for yourself. Why not feature those on the business card? For example, the front of the card may be nothing more than an eye-catching logo. And the back can have the pertinent business info along with a business icon.
This simple idea makes it less of a business card and more of an invitation. And customers will rush to "accept" that invitation.
So far, we've focused on changing things like card shape and font. However, it's also important to show off your color palette a bit. As we said before, plain, white cards can be a little boring. But a bit of color can make them exciting and enticing.
Imagine a card where the front is in crisp black broken up only by a vibrant, multi-color logo. It catches the eye while building mystery, and that's the key to any good business card.
Form and Function
We mentioned making your card interactive. However, you can take this one step further by making the card functional. Some businesses have created business cards that double as things like cheese graters, for instance. It sounds crazy, but it works for a simple reason.
The main reason customers throw cards away is because they think they won't need them. By making your card a valuable tool, you effectively increase its shelf life for the average customer.
This next idea is mostly for tech-savvy graphic designers. Have you considered adding electronics to your business cards? With a bit of soldering and circuity, you can have cards that light up, blink, or do whatever else you want them to do.
And the card is still relatively light, though any added weight has the benefit of making the card seem special. Adding lights opens up a world of design possibilities. And customers will be impressed. If you can do all that with a simple card, they will wonder what you could do for them!
Make It Personal
One predictor of a company's success is the owner. A good owner should appear personable and truly be the "face" of the business. Some graphic designers have made this happen by prominently featuring themselves on the card. This pairs well with interactive features.
As an example, the front of the card may show you with a straight face and wearing a suit. Customers open a flap, though, and they see you are wearing a Superman outfit beneath the shirt! This design is fun, interactive, and instantly builds rapport.
Worthy of Display
The ultimate goal of a business card is to have the customer keep it around. To do this, consider creating cards that are worthy of display. As an example, some designers create cards that can be torn and put back together in new images. And others make cards that can be used as seed packets to grow plants.
Either way, the idea is the same. You want to give customers a reason to keep the card hanging around!
4. Don't Get Carried Away by Your Business Card Design
To elaborate on the previous point and possibly temper your design - you want something eye-catching, not blinding. So take it easy on the finishing effects and be careful not to overcrowd your business card. If your card is too crowded, your client won't know what to focus in on.
Everything you decide to have on your card should be there for a reason. And that reason should be in line with your brand. Bright colours work for businesses targeting a younger market. But a lawyer handing you a neon-pink business card might be a bit confusing!
Having white spaces on your card and minimal text can be as effective as having a brightly coloured card. As long as you pull the focus to the right areas you don't have to totally reinvent business card design.
And some blank space can actually be a bonus. This leaves the client with space to make notes on. That added engagement makes them more likely to hold onto it. And like colour, choose your fonts carefully. You could spend hours looking through different fonts. And playing around with them can be great fun.
But the most important thing is to choose a font that is clear and well-sized. People aren't going to waste time trying to read your business card. Finally, keep your audience in mind. This links in with your brand. If you have a specific audience then giving a nod to them on your business cards is a really nice touch.
For example, an international business might have business cards printed in different languages. This shows that they think about all their clients. And that's the kind of thing that people remember.
And if you have more than one business don't ever put both on the same card. This creates a mixed message. And if someone focuses in on the wrong business, you can be sure that your card will end up in the trash.
5. Invest In Professional Printing
And this is a real investment. A company's sales can increase by 2.5% for every 2,000 business cards handed out. And with high quality, bulk printing easily available that's a lot of percent for a fraction of the price.
DIY business cards are often easy to spot. So unless you're professionally experienced, get help. The professionals know how to design a business card for success. Online printing services provide loads of freedom to personalize your own design. And they sort the technical side out for you.
And can you imagine how long it would take to print thousands of business cards yourself? It really is a no-brainer, isn't it? Professional printing saves you time and money.
6. Always Check Your Work
Okay, we can hear you sighing. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times. Always check your work. Sending your business card design off to the printers with mistakes on it is a waste of your time and money. And those mistakes slip through easier than you might think.
If you've spent hours staring at your card design, the chances are your brain is less likely to pick up mistakes on it. And this could cost you dearly with clients. No one's going to hire you if you can't get the basics right.
So take a short break before sending your design off. Just five minutes away from your screen will help you to come back with a fresh set of eyes. Or better still get an actual fresh set of eyes to check it (once you have of course!)
And spelling is only one element that needs checking. Don't forget to look at the punctuation and spacing. A wonky indentation somewhere will really stand out. Free software like Grammarly is also a great method to help pick out any spelling or grammar errors. But don't just rely on this.
Nothing beats a good old-fashioned proofread.
So There You Have It
The key to a brilliant business card design lies in the detail and in getting the basics right. Use these in line with your brand to stand out from the crowd and you can't go wrong. Check out our collections of business card designs here! Or visit our blog for more tips on how to use your new card in the most effective way!