Designing a business card can be an exciting moment for a fledgling business. Finally your business feels real. Often this is one of the first things a person does when they are starting a business, it makes the move official and helps you spread the word even before everything else is in place, and even if it’s initially just to friends and family. But a business card is a very important tool to a business; it is a key marketing opportunity and a physical reminder of a business that you need to get right.
Even in a modern, paperless society there is still a role for the humble business card. We might do most of our communication through email or social media, which can carry our contact details and website info, but there is still a need for face-to-face meetings and physical marketing will always be a way to make an impression.
The importance of business cards
A business card does more than just carry basic information, it is a physical representation of your business and can carry your visual message. From it, a client can get a good idea of how professional you are, how creative you are, how diligent you are and how you want to be seen. So within pretty small constraints you can say an awful lot. So what are the basic rules and how do you design a good business card?
First and foremost the information you present should be clean, concise and professional. Your design can be anything you like around that, but the information you want to convey needs to be presented well. So this isn’t a time to experiment with Gothic fonts and you should research the fonts and typefaces that best represent your work and your market. Your basic info should contain a call-to-action as a proactive prompt for people to phone, call-in or buy something, and it goes without saying that you should also check for typos!
Maximise your logo
Whether you are looking to establish a new business or promote an existing one, you want your logo to be prominent and recognisable. This makes your business card easy to remember and easy to retrieve, which is essentially what you are wanting the business card to be; a simple visual reminder of your business that sticks in the mind.
What do you want to say?
As we mentioned above, a business card does more than just carry basic information, so you need to start with what you want it to do. Essentially you want to make an impact, but in a good way. How you do this depends on what kind of business you are. A graphic designer shouldn’t choose a stock template and an outdated typeface, they should showcase their skills and their knowledge of modern techniques. Whilst a legal firm shouldn’t choose a wacky design with cartoon character logos. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, just as long as it suits your market. So a pet shop or dog groomer is perfectly welcome to produce their business card in the shape of a dog bone. That reflects their market and the fact that humour and informality is acceptable.
Use the same branding that you have on your website, on your social media, on your letterheads and, if you have some, on your premises. Having consistent themes and branding helps to establish attachment and obviously carries the message better into someone’s memory. Introducing new logos or branding, and even fonts, will confuse people or lose the subconscious recognition that you have worked hard to plant in people’s minds. It also perhaps says something about your eye for detail and professionalism.
Can your business card also do some work for you? Can it carry an advert for your product or services on the flipside? Could it be an appointment card? Or could it carry loyalty stamps? If you are creative and clever a business card can become something people want to keep, rather than discard or keep hidden in a drawer. If a business card also has a purpose it becomes useful, and all the while your brand and identity is becoming synonymous for positive things.
Be careful not to include too much information. People only need basic contact details, enough for them to be engaged, able to make a link and to pursue their interest in your business. The rest of the business card can be sparse if the surrounding design is pleasant and attractive enough. So don’t overdo it, a business card is a brief aide-memoire and an introductory link, it is supposed to be to-the-point, not a comprehensive overview of your business, there are plenty of opportunities to present that kind of information.
Perhaps the most important feature of a business card should be some element of X-Factor, ie. something that leaves an impression. This could be the shape of the card, the logo, the fabric or material, or the dual purpose design element you have created. Offering something simple that sticks in the memory can really work for your business, so you can push the boundaries within some pretty small constraints, and say something profound about your business, without saying much at all.