Business Card Design Do's and Don'ts
The humble business card can boast some powerful results in marketing your business, if you create it with care. Since your card will linger long after your meeting's over, think of your business cards as your unsung sales force; they need to reflect your company and your product the way you would. The key is to create a business card design that's appealing, targeted and informative.
Make the Right Impression
The first decision a prospect makes is about you. Does your business card look and feel professional and convey the right image? Your visual identity on paper depends on several fundamental graphic design concepts and printing choices:
Color and Images
• Do use color for interest and emphasis. It can be in your logo or other images, in text or in background elements. Stay with a maximum of 3-4 colors. Pull colors from your logo for other background elements and type colors.
• Do match color tones. If you have bright colors in your image or logo, use black or other bright colors that work with it. If your colors are muted, earthy or pastel, stick to that scheme with the other colors.
• Do include a photo if it's a great picture of you and it's appropriate. Photos are most useful in service type businesses where an ongoing relationship is a critical factor.
• Don't use clip art for your logo or other elements. You're brand is your identity and these days you can easily find affordable images or get help with a custom logo online. Remember you want your business card to stand out in a memorable and positive way.
• Don't veer from other branded materials. Keep your business card design consistent with the general color and design scheme on your website, in your store, and other marketing materials.
• Do pay attention to alignment. Left align for easiest reading. Too much centered text can look cluttered and is hard to read.
• Do limit your business card to one or two font types.
• Don't use decorative or unusual fonts for your name and contact info, unless it's right for your business image. Use easy-to-read but not too generic fonts (such as Courier).
• Don't mix it up with different font sizes or text that is too small to read and print clearly.
• Don't use light colors that are difficult to read or have an excessively dark image in the background that obscures your text.
Composition and Format
• Do keep it clean and simple. Avoid visual overload or clutter. Consider using the back of the card or create a folded business card if you need more space for additional info (multiple locations, map, appointment info, etc)
• Do match the "tone" of the card to your market space. A more traditional professional services or real estate business card, for example, might stay more conservative in layout and colors, while a colorful or splashy card could fit the bill for a toy store or trendy restaurant.
• Do strive for contrast and balance. Dark against light, opposite colors and large elements juxtaposed with smaller ones create contrast which attracts attention. Keeping the weight of elements relatively distributed on the card creates balance and pleases the eye, as do elements of similar tone or size. [example]
• Do use bleeds to extend colored backgrounds or images to look like they're "bleeding" off the edge of the card for a professional look.
• Don't cut it too close around the margins. Keep your logo and text away from the edges of the card. Be careful with borders or thin lines around the sides, since slight variances in cutting could make the lines look crooked or uneven.
• Don't use a non-standard size or shape. Unless you have a special need for it, stick to the usual 3.5 x 2 inch size to fit in most wallets, card holders and business card scanners. Rounded corners or other cut outs (called die-cuts) on the standard size, however, can add a distinctive touch.
See our Business Card Specifications page for more information on setting up your card with bleeds and safe margins. And see some business card design ideas and examples on our samples page.
• Don't use cheap, thin paper. The recipient will wonder about the quality of your product or service. Compare papers when shopping for business card printing services. You'll want 12-14 pt thickness for maximum impact and durability.
• Do match the coating to your purposes. Go with gloss to make photos look beautiful. Select a dull or matte finish for smooth, non-shiny business card printing that's easy to write on. Uncoated paper has a more textured feel that can look more formal and match stationery such as letterhead and envelopes. Request samples of our papers to see and feel the differences.
• Do opt for custom finishing options such as embossing, foil stamping or raised lettering that can give your business card that extra oomph. They cost less than you might think and add a touch of class.
The Fine Print
Now that you've got a solid design for printable cards, it's time to pay attention to the details of the information you're providing. The next decision a prospect will make is whether to contact you based on how clear and easy you make it on your business card.
Include and align relevant contact info including an email address and website url. Double check the numbers and spelling of all text before you send it off to us to be printed and again when you review your proof. Typos and wrong numbers are easy to miss and can land your business card and your chances for a sale in the trash.
Follow these tips and your own good judgment to create business cards that sell. You'll find that good things do come in small packages indeed.