Who, What, Where, Why?
It may sound obvious, but the first (and most important!) thing to consider when designing your business card is the information you want to convey. Make sure your name, job title and company name or logo are clearly displayed. Think carefully about which contact details to include – you need to strike a balance between providing enough points of contact, without making your card look cluttered. From our experience, your website, email address and phone number are essential. Many businesses no longer include an address on their business cards, so if you’re struggling for space, you may want to remove this from your design.
Make it Readable
If you’ve got a lot of information to display, you may be tempted to shrink the size of your text. Beware – small text can often look readable onscreen, but turn into an illegible smudge when printed. As a general rule of thumb, don’t go smaller than 8pt. Also, don’t forget about the font itself: keep it professional and simple – don’t be tempted to use Comic Sans or a detailed calligraphic font which is impossible to decipher.
Another way of saving space is to create a QR Code for your card. They provide a neat way of including a lot of information on a business card, without making it look cluttered. It’s also an easy way to create a link between your printed and online content – by scanning the code, people can automatically be sent to your website. There are plenty of free QR code generators on the web, so getting technological doesn’t have to break the bank.
Colourful or Plain?
Bright colours - when used correctly - can make a business card stand out, and look distinctive. This tactic is often used by design and creative businesses, with the aim of appearing fresh, exciting and original. However, don’t underestimate the power of simplicity. A plain black and white design can be as memorable and striking as a colourful card – and can often be seen as more ‘stylish’ too.
If you’re concerned about a black and white card looking dull, try embossing the words. Embossing creates a raised, 3D effect, which adds elegance and style to a business card.
Embossing also makes the card more tactile. Research has shown that engaging more than one sense at a time can improve recall of an object, so people would be more likely to remember your business.
It’s wise to keep your business cards in line with the rest of your company’s branding. If you have company colours, use them. Of course, if you don’t have any particular colour scheme to work with, you’ll have free reign on your cards. But, be careful to choose complementary colours - clashing colours can look tacky and unprofessional on a business card. If in doubt, use an online colour matching tool.
Pictures speak louder than words. This is true for business cards. While you need to have written content on one side of the card, think about saving the other for something more visual. Perhaps you could use the space to display an image of your product or something related to your business. Or, put your company logo on the back of the card. Whatever you do, don’t leave it blank – it’s often claimed that people don’t look at the back of business cards, but that’s simply not true. Just think about how many times you’ve been given a card, and flipped it over to check…
Borders and Bleeds
Don’t use borders in your card design. This is for a purely practical reason – no matter how much attention is paid, printing is never 100% completely precise. A perfectly symmetrical border on your screen may come out lopsided, thanks to minute movements in the printing machine. Printers recommend leaving a 3mm Bleed – an area the same colour as the background – around the edges of your card, purely for this reason.
The Safe Area
Along with the bleed, printers also usually specify a “safe area” in the centre of the card. Keep any important information – like contact details – within this area, to avoid it being cut off during the printing process.
Consider the thickness of your business card. Thicker cards tend to feel more expensive – making your business seem more professional. Business cards printed on paper thinner than 300gsm look and feel rather thin, which can make them feel tacky and cheap. Try thinking of your card as you would a handshake – nobody likes a limp handshake, so why would they like a limp business card?
Keep it Simple
You might be tempted to use an unusual material for your business card. While this will certainly be memorable, bear in mind the practicality of your chosen medium. People often write extra details on business cards – such as where they acquire the card. This is much more difficult to do on metal, wood or even meat.
This article was written by Rob Young of moo.com, the design and print company. MOO print business cards, stickers, postcards and more.