A guide to effective business card design

RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
edited September 2008 in Marketing
I noticed that this subject has been broached in previous posts, but thought I`d give my spin on what makes an effective business card.  By no means is this intended to be all inclusive....


 
For hundreds of years, business cards have been a vital means of disseminating basic information.  Processes and capabilities have evolved, but some basic guidelines remain true in creating an effective business card.

 

An effective business card should:

 


Identify the person and/or business

Provide essential contact information

Remind the recipient of what you do

Contain some compelling feature(s) to make it stand out


 



Identify the person and/or business:


The card should identify the represented company by name, along with its distinguishing logo, if available.  In addition the name of the individual handing out the card should be listed, including a title if pertinent.  Adding a photo will also aid in identification as well as create a personal touch.

 



Provide essential contact information:


How much contact information depends on the type of service to some degree.  An address (physical, mailing or both), phone and fax numbers are the norm, but consider including a cellular number, e-mail address, and website address.  Be sure to include as much information as is prudent to be readily accessible to your customer without overwhelming them with numbers.

 



Remind the recipient of what you do:


Often times a company’s name has nothing to do with the product or service they offer.  A simple tag line or brief explanation of services offered will go along way.  Just enough to jog the memory – too much information on a business card will only get overlooked.

 



Contain some compelling feature(s) to make it stand out:


Odds are, you are not the only individual trying to get a customer’s attention.  Some small compelling feature may be just what it takes to keep your business card on the top of the pile (both physically and figuratively).  Maybe it’s a memorable quote, or an eye catching graphic.  It could be the type of material on which the card is printed or the addition of rounded corners.  The bottom line is this – you want the client to remember YOUR card, and not that of the competition.

 

A few other quick tips… be cautious of making the design too busy.  This can include graphic elements or excessive wording.  Too much “stuff” will make the card very difficult to read thereby lessening its effectiveness.  Background images can add visual appeal as long as they don’t detract from the main purpose, which is to disseminate information.  The small type common on a business card is easily lost when set over some background images.  Utilize the back side of the card – back side printing is often very inexpensive and will give twice the space.  On a final note, remember your card is a reflection of you and your product or service.  Avoid flimsy papers, unprofessional printing (do it yourself kits) and cheap looking “cookie cutter” designs.  A poorly made card could actually do more harm than good.
Remipub8/27/2008 3:21 PM
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Comments

  • RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
    Excellent point nhgnikole.  In truth, I rarely write notes on the back of my own cards, but I frequently make notes on the back of cards given to me.  I may meet someone at a convention who expresses interest in our services ... I`ll quickly jot down where I met the person and what we discussed on the back of their card.  It makes it much easier to follow up!
     
    One suggestion to consider - add a small but identifying mark (ie logo) to the back of the card.  This way the holder will know who it came from no matter which side they`re looking at.  Some companies don`t charge extra for back side printing (we do not), so it costs you nothing to enhance the utility of your business card.
  • MpyreDzirezMpyreDzirez subscriber Posts: 3
    For point number 3 I would say having your picture on the card is the best way to have them remember who you are... Every card I have in my desk with a picture on it - I can almost remember the whole conversation.
  • besthealthbesthealth subscriber Posts: 4
    Very good suggestions. I just ordered some cards and I could not believe that I paid for a box of 500 cards only to get some thin, flimsy, pale looking cards. I could not believe they actually thought they could get away with that - awful! I have to re order my cards and be specific that I am expecting quality cards.
  • vapourlockvapourlock subscriber Posts: 4
    All of that and some more....
    I was just going though a copywriting forum the other day and they were talking about business cards too. However, some of the professionals there happened to put up some samples up for everyone else to see. Must I say I learnt something? That would be a gross understatement.
    You got to have something that can grab people by their " You know what" ; smack them hard on their heads; shake their heads in disbelief and stare long and hard at it - -this is apart from the usual stuff that you need to have. Nikole said write something "personal" and hand it over, I would say do that -- but write something ridiculous. Something they can talk to their grand children about. You know what I am saying?
    Here`s the link for your perusal http://www.copywritersboard.com/copywri ... -rich.html
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    For point number 3 I would say having your picture on the card is the best way to have them remember who you are... Every card I have in my desk with a picture on it - I can almost remember the whole conversation.
    It`s funny, as a designer I almost always discourage clients from putting their photo on a business card.  The primary reason is that most people are unwilling to invest the time/energy to get a professional head shot taken and the poor quality photo they propose using takes away from the professionalism of the business card being used.  Many people then do not update their photo and the image on the card quickly looks nothing like them in person.  One of my own clients used the same photo for over 10 years. The real estate industry has used photos on business cards for many years, often very ineffectively.  When design business cards for those in the real estate industry I have even recommend putting their photo on the back of the card - with room for potential notes - to unclutter the front of the card and allow space for information the client/potential client may really require.
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    Joann -
    Thank you! 
    I just returned from the Creative Freelancer Conference in Chicago, where I was the closing speaker for the event.  It was a gathering of designers, writers, photographers and more.  It was so refreshing to see the great assortment of interesting and beautiful business cards in a variety of sizes, shapes, textures, print treatments, materials, etc.  In fact, my own business card - in its simple, yet unusual format - got a great deal of attention at the conference,
    While it is usually necessary to take the industry and target market into consideration when designing business cards, it is seldom necessary to create the "same old same old."
    - J.
  • RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
    Great input!
     
    I recently read an interesting article on the subject.  It discussed the clash often encountered between the desire for a graphic designer to show off their creativity and the business owner`s interest in keeping things basic.  Graphic designers are in essence digital artists.  Most business owners (generalizing here) are about getting to the point in a no nonsense manner - and without spending a fortune on the creative piece.  Frequently, the two schools of thought butt heads.
     
    The important thing here is to meld the two.  As the original article mentioned and was again emphasized by Joann - the card needs to stand out.  Same old, same old may do the job, but it`s not creating a compelling marketing piece.  At the same time, too much creativity detracts from the functionality of the business card.  Different sizes and shapes can add uniqueness to the project, but do they enhance the function?  If the card is too big for example, will it fit into someone`s business card holder?  If it`s too small, will it get lost among a stack of other cards?  Fancy die cutting, substrates (what it`s printed on), fluffy extras - they will certainly make the card stand out, but at what cost?  Will all those extras increase the value of the card enough to justify the added expense?  Yes, a business card is a marketing tool.  A well designed card will help boost a businesses image and create competitive edge - but it is still a business card.  Be careful not to let creativity impede functionality.  Again, Joann nailed it with "Keep it simple - yet memorable."
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives subscriber Posts: 15
    Do the majority of people even make use of traditional business card holders any longer?  For the vast majority of people I know - creative types and others - the business card is just a transitional vehicle for communicating information that will eventually be stored in another manner. 
    I usually come home from a business or design conference with an average of 100-200 business cards.  I`m not going to keep those around.  A few of the standouts will go into my "keeper file" - but the info on most will be transferred to my contact data base and the card will take a trip through my shredder on the way to being recycled.
    I`m not too concerned about my unusual card not fitting into a business card file or not working in someone`s business card scanner.  If an individual has asked for my card - and I will give out several hundred at a single conference - they have some need or desire for my contact info and will save it in some manner.
    - J.
  • RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
    That brings up a great point Jeff...
     
    When it comes to the design, consider the audience.  Yes, in fact a large number of business people still use traditional business card holders - I see them all the time.  But if you`re designing a card for a niche market - for example a group of artists, then it`s probably a non factor.  In fact the more creative the design the better in that scenario!  Your card is intended to showcase your talent.  For someone selling widgets, the goal is to let people know how to reach them ... and to do it in such a manner that the card will be distinguished and memorable.
     
    Once the information from the card has made it to the database - the card has effectively done its job.
     
     
    Remipub9/3/2008 12:14 PM
  • ATapiaATapia subscriber Posts: 0
    This Reply goes to Reminiscence Publishing LLC, but also to all the people that are looking for an online and a professional Printer for business cards or other materials.
     
    I happened to come across this blog a few weeks ago:
    A guide to effective business card design
     
    So I read the post from Remipub and got interested, logged in their website and looked at their products and prices.  I also was checking out not less than 5 to 7 different companies as well for my business cards I needed back then. In short I called this company and it amazed me how easy and professional they were about the design I needed for my business cards which by the way was the difficult part when dealing with other companies I checked out before !  A real pain in the butt !  whether it was downloading complicated templates and uploading yourself the desing ready to print to additional charges for designing a custom business card almost as expensive as the same product itself; anyway I am computer literate and trust me was not easy to design my cards they way I wanted or in a template without professional help, so I decided to search carefully for this tyoe of companies.
     
    I am actually posting this for all the entrepreneurs out there or business owners that like quality, price, speed and extremely professional customer service for your printing needs !  Though I need to mention this is not an Ad like it may sound about this printing company but It`s actually a posting to brag about Tim Meyer who is the customer representative and designer of my business cards !  I am proudly posting them here online so you can see them in this link on my website so you can see what I`m talking about !  http://usamobileclub.com/businesscards.html 
    I have a tough sell telling people what I do or my customers for my first impression !  Mobile Marketing.  So how you eat that they say ? what is it ?  To solve the problem I knew I needed a business card that would let you know right away WHAT is that my company does for you or what Mobile Marketing is all about !  So THANK YOU TIM MEYER  FOR HELPING ME !
     
     
  • PrimoSitesPrimoSites subscriber Posts: 0
    I am so glad that I have this one right!
     
    I designed my cards with no experience in the field. I wanted something that reflected what my business did and who I am. I could not find an example of what it was that I wanted so I went to the drawing board so to speak. I did a design for the back of my card and worried that it was out of the ordinary. I was happily surprised to see that I got all the topics mentioned in this post right.
     
    As for the back of my card, I have the same back ground as the front but in black and white instead of color. I also made the back ground very light so that it is visible to those who examine the card.  I wanted it this way so it could be written on and still have a design. My tag line and logo are bolder and stand out but do not take up the entire back of the card.
     
    I wanted to post because, I feel the back of my cards design really is the best of both worlds. It keeps in step with the front design without rendering the card useless for written notes. Because I did not see this example any place I thought I could share what I did with you and maybe it would help someone.
     
    I hope it dose!
     
     
  • ocbizchickocbizchick subscriber Posts: 0
    I am new to starup nation, but I just had new cards made for my business and I did a lot of research and applied my marketing experience to find what stands out and gets noticed on business cards these days and it may be diiferent than what we traditionally think. 
     
    There is a secret to the size, the information you include and the look.  If you`d like to see a picture sample and the key ingredients to a card that stands out every time you can view the rest of the article here: http://www.thecasualentrepreneur.com/20 ... ess-cards/ 
     
    Hope it`s helpful!
     
    Wendi Liechty

    http://www.TheCasualEntrepreneur.com

    Helping Entreprenurs Make Dollars & Sense
  • lgreen35lgreen35 subscriber Posts: 0
    It`s funny, as a designer I almost always discourage clients from putting their photo on a business card.  The primary reason is that most people are unwilling to invest the time/energy to get a professional head shot taken and the poor quality photo they propose using takes away from the professionalism of the business card being used.  Many people then do not update their photo and the image on the card quickly looks nothing like them in person.  One of my own clients used the same photo for over 10 years. The real estate industry has used photos on business cards for many years, often very ineffectively.  When design business cards for those in the real estate industry I have even recommend putting their photo on the back of the card - with room for potential notes - to unclutter the front of the card and allow space for information the client/potential client may really require.hello all,I agree that most pictures on cards are very poor and not worth using. The concept may be good but as stated above, they must invest for a new picture each time.I like the idea of a logo in small on the back, I may try that myself next time; thanks.personalized.....magnetslgreen352008-9-22 17:4:11
  • RemipubRemipub subscriber Posts: 3
    Hi Pat,
     
    Personally I think it`s perfectly fine putting both names on the card considering you share the same contact information.  If you had different numbers (for example) then I`d say use two separate cards.  Here is an example of a card we just did with two names on one card:

    http://www.remipub.com/sowers.html  As long as the design is simple and adding both names isn`t too crowded, I`d say go for it!
     
    The exception to this is if you`re trying to give a more "corporate" perception with your business cards.  If you want to give more of a big business feel, then maybe consider two separate cards - but depending on your business, this is probably unnecessary.
     
    Good luck!
    Tim
    Remipub10/19/2008 1:19 PM
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