Despite the fact that a lot of marketing efforts are moving online these days, business cards remain one of the printed marketing materials that just about every business owner needs to have.
The problem is that while there’s certainly no shortage of business cards around, most business owners put very little effort into the design process, often utilizing a bog-standard template that is unlikely to ever make a positive impact with potential clients.
The important thing to remember is that a business card is more than just a way to share contact details; it’s an extension of your brand, your core values, and most importantly, your personality.
So, no matter what industry your business operates in, a great-looking business card is mandatory if you want to achieve success, but how exactly do you design an epic business card if you aren’t a design pro?
Figure Out What Information It Needs To Include
More often than not, many people rush into the business card design process by opening up Photoshop, creating a rough rectangular shape, and starting to design.
This almost always results in disaster, as it’s hugely important to plan out your business card before you start any part of the design process.
So, the first step is to decide upon the information that your business card needs to include.
This might sound simple, but there’s actually a lot of information to choose from, and unless you want a super-cluttered and unreadable business card, you’re going to need to choose what to include wisely.
Here’s some of the information you might want to include:
Position (e.g. Managing Director)
Company Name (and/or logo)
Website Address (URL)
Facebook, Twitter, Google+ Profile URL’s
If you take a look at the business card above (a great example, by the way), you’ll notice that the design includes the company name/logo, name(s), phone number, address, and website URL.
It doesn’t include Facebook/Twitter/Google+ URL’s; fax number, email address, or the positions of any employees/owners.
You need to choose the information that’s important to your potential clients and relevant to your business.
For example, if you ran a creative agency, it would be crazy not to include your social profile URL’s; on the other hand, if you ran a law firm, this piece of information might not be so important. Either way, it’s best to stick to just the information you really need; the rest isn’t worth including.
Figure Out The Importance of Each Piece of Information
Now you’ve figured out what information truly must be included on your business card, it’s time to figure out the relative importance for each piece of information.
The idea here is that some pieces of information are more important than others. For example, in most cases, your business name and phone number will be more important than your social profile links or email address. Your design needs to reflect this.
You can see an example of this in the design above. Notice how the designer has used various font sizes, weights, and colors to draw attention to the most important pieces of information (i.e. the name of the business, name, and position).
The easiest way to do this is simply create a list of the information you wish to include, and order that list by importance (i.e. most important information at the top, etc.). Once you’ve got your list, you can start to think about how you’ll arrange this information in a hierarchical manner in your design.
There are many ways you can do this (including some extremely subtle ways), but perhaps the most common method is to use font sizing to draw attention to the most important pieces of information.
Sweetbeaker’s business card (pictured above) illustrates this technique perfectly. You can see that the designer has used a large font size for the business name and slogan, whereas the website URL, email address and phone number are all written in a much smaller font.
Clearly, the designer felt that it was most important to get across the name of the business, along with what they do, rather than the mundane contact details.
Color can also be used to achieve a sense of hierarchy in your business card design. Take a look at the example above from Roman Feria.
Roman is a freelance graphic designer and therefore, it’s extremely important to him that potential clients see his work. So, he’s chosen to highlight his Deviantart URL in color on his business card, in order to draw attention to it.
Note: You can also make use of various font weights, numerous typefaces, and contract to create a sense of hierarchy. It’s about getting creative.
Keep It Consistent With Your Brand
Consistency is a hugely important factor, as it helps to ensure that your business has a clear identity and comes across in the same way across all marketing mediums.
Despite this fact, a lack of consistency is one of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when it comes to designing a business card. So, how exactly do you ensure that your business card is consistent with your brand? Well, there are a few ways.
The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is to ensure that the color scheme matches (or at least closely resembles) your brands color scheme.
You can see a good example of a consistent color scheme in the image above.
You’ll notice that this brand makes use of the same color scheme for their letterheads and their business cards; they also use a similar color scheme for the rest of their marketing materials, such as their website and stationary.
Another way to ensure consistency is to keep the typography throughout your brand consistent, and this includes the typography used on your business card.
For example, here’s a beautifully crafted business card from Fuse Design. For starters, you’ll see that there is a consistent use of typography on the business card itself. In fact, only one typeface is used.
If you take a look at some of the company’s other printed marketing materials above (i.e. envelopes, letterheads, business cards), you’ll notice that the same typeface is used throughout them all. You’ll also notice the consistent use of color (black and white).
Your business card is perhaps the most important marketing material to get right, as it’s typically used to introduce a potential client to your brand, so make sure to spend a bit of time getting this right.
Make Sure Your Text Is Readable
Believe it or not, the lack of readability in business cards is a common problem; this is because it often looks perfectly readable on a high-resolution computer screen, but when printed, it can be an entirely different story.
Paul Browning’s business card (pictured above) shows a perfect example of just about everything design error you need to avoid.
Here are a few pointers for maximum legibility:
Don’t use yellow text on a light background (make sure there’s contrast between the text color and background – the more contrast, the better)
Make sure you’ve got a bleed and trim area, otherwise your information may get cut off during the printing process
Don’t use many different (uncomplimentary) colors– it simply confuses people and makes things difficult to decipher
Make sure your text doesn’t overlap
Don’t use a font size that is too small
That last point is one we’d particularly like to draw attention to, as it’s perhaps the most common mistake.
You need to remember that when printed, a business card is relatively small. Therefore, text can appear quite small on the card itself.
Usually, your business card will look a lot clearer and larger on a computer screen, so if you’re unsure about the sizing of your typography, it might be worth having a proof printed before you go ahead with the full print run.
You should also keep your target demographic in mind. Small font sizes might not be a problem for the majority of a young demographic, but most people start to lose their eyesight as they get older, so a larger font size might be appropriate for those businesses targeting the older generation.
You don’t have to be a design professional to create a stunning, highly readable, hard-hitting business card; you just need to follow the basic outline above. Sure, you’ll need an eye for design and a willingness to get creative, but if you have that (and you know how to use Photoshop), you’re good to go.
However, we want to point out that while the above guide serves as a great guide to designing your business card, it’s also important to think outside the box and let your creativity flow.
It’s important to remember that there’s no unwritten rule that says every business card has to be the same size, or be printed on the same material; you can literally create anything.
Just take a look at the business card above, for example. It’s printed on metal, is full of holes, and serves a dual purpose as a spanner.
Creativity is your friend when designing a business card..