Most professionals require a business card for clients, contacts or other stakeholders, and it’s essential to get the design, card stock and presentation of your business card just right.
Why do I need a business card?
Your business card is an important element of your personal or business brand. It tells the recipient who you are, what your business is and what your brand values are. A memorable card will be recalled, whereas a poorly crafted card may end up being discarded. For those working within the creative, leisure, media, retail or lifestyle sectors, a beautiful business card can be the deciding factor for a follow-up and potential sale. So it’s well worth taking the time to get it right.
How to choose the right business card stock
The general rule is that a business card should be printed on a paper stock as thick as or thicker than an index card. Printers tend to quote in gsm, and for this you’ll want between 200gsm and 400gsm. Printers will have books of paper stock so that you can feel different weights yourself and make a choice. Seek advice if you are unsure. The thicker stocks give a better impression of quality and luxury, and they are less likely to bend.
Different Paper Options
As well as paper weight, you’ll be given options of paper texture and colour. White, cream and ivory card stock are classic choices, but innovations in printing mean that brightly coloured or relief designs also work beautifully too. You can design a reverse option, so that one side is white and the reverse is coloured or designed.
Textured paper or stock with a grain can look beautiful with classic typography or embossing. Coloured print cards work wonderfully with simple silk, gloss or matt finishes, but seek advice from a designer if necessary about combining colours, textures and special effects, as the final effect can be overdone if you’re not careful.
Design is an important factor. Typography is key for your business card, and a good designer will have an instinctive feel for the type of fonts that will work well for your brand and card. For example, classic script and serif fonts are often used for traditional and professional services.
Lower-case non-serif fonts tend to be very modern, and they are favoured by young brands and more informal industries. Avoid mixing colours. Make sure the type is of a size that is readable and not too ‘light’. Most typefaces come in different weights, so you can experiment.
Make sure you have your name, title, company and contact details present. Where applicable, add your website and social media handles. Don’t go overboard with images, partner logos and detracting gizmos — a beautifully clean design will always look professional, memorable and attractive.
Standard business cards are 3.5 inches by two inches, and these fit most easily in wallets. Many creative shaped cards get themselves noticed, but be mindful that not all people will be able to store oddly shaped cards. If you are using them as a leave-behind after a personal visit, a beautifully shaped and designed card is likely to be left on a desk because of its aesthetic appeal, but hand it out at a networking event and you may find it ends up lost or discarded if your recipient can’t store it in their wallet.
As well as colour you can choose a range of finishes, such as gold and silver foil, spot UV for a shine and textured effect, cut-outs and other features. These will all increase the cost of the finished item, but the lavish extras can be worthwhile in some industries, particularly for luxury services. A designer can give you advice on this. If you are choosing a finish such as a foil, consider just using these expensive cards for special clients or occasions and have a more basic set done for networking and general giveaways.
Some business cards can be printed at home if you have a good printer, the right card stock, inks and a printing program and cutter. Most people will prefer to outsource the job to a printer. This is particularly important for thick stocks, which need to be cut and finished to a high standard.
For a high-quality job, ask to see a sample before the print run begins. Some cheaper internet services can be of lesser quality, so opt for a reputable printer and a good service. You will know when you are dealing with a good printer when they are prepared to give you plenty of information about your order and guidance on submitting artwork. It’s a good idea to put in this effort to get it right, as the finished result will be well worth it.
Which features will you include in your business card design?