The traditional business card may be small in size, but it is hugely influential when it comes to sending a positive message about your company. If not enough thought or care is put into its design, a business card can end up looking lackluster, unprofessional, and uninspiring. It is important to invest valuable time and passion into the creation of print marketing materials, because their quality will be seen as a reflection of your business.
Whilst it can be tempting to believe, in this increasingly digital age, that the business card has given way to the social media page, studies have shown that face to face contact is significantly more likely to translate to a future sale, contract, or agreement. This means that creating the best first impression is important. If somebody handed you a scuffed business card with text that was too small, colours that were difficult to read and information that wasn’t relevant you would probably think twice about doing business together. The opposite is also true – if you hand over a really striking business card it will send out a positive message that you take care and put effort in doing things. So if you want to be sure to wow at the next big networking event be sure to have a great business card design.
This handy guide to successful business card design will help you put together a calling card which is fun, memorable, and ultimately, inviting.
Use Suitable Software
Whilst professional designers will most likely use complicated and expensive software like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, the good news is that there are plenty of free software options out there which you can use to create amazing business card designs. With the help of programs like Clickable Card, Page Wonder, and CardWorks, you can set background colors, insert images, edit text, and export any designs which you create to JPG, BMP, GIF image file formats. There are also great websites that have built in business card designers that often come with a range of templates to help create the perfect business card. If you have never used this type of software because it is recommended to stick to more basic software that is simple to navigate and easy to get to grips with, it should never be too difficult to put together professional looking cards.
Choose the Right Dimensions
The first step is deciding what size you want your business card to be. Whilst there is, arguably, plenty of room for innovation in other areas (like the design, colors, font and even the material), you are strongly advised to be conventional when it comes to dimensions. There is a good reason why most business cards are either 90x50mm or 85 x 55mm. It is so they fit easily into standard wallets. See why we recommend standard size business cards here.
Always Work With CMYK Colors
Ordinarily, graphic designs can be created in one of two different color modes; CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) or RGB (red, green, blue). However, for print materials, CMYK is really the only suitable choice. CMYK is used for printing whilst RGB is used for computer screens. With this in mind, it is important to remember that printed designs may look slightly different to computer displays because there are different colour systems being used. Additionally it is often the case that computer screens can display a lot more colors than can be printed on paper.
Take Bleed into Account
For all business cards which do not have a white background, it is necessary to take ‘bleed’ into account when designing and printing. If you are unfamiliar with bleed, know that it refers to an extended perimeter area around the card. This perimeter area is a precautionary measure – it is always filled and printed with the same background color or design which was used on the business card. The reason that the bleed area is important is because if we do not allow for this extra perimeter and the card is cut 1mm off where it should be this will result in a case whereby the edge of your card will have a small white strip. Please remember that it is a generally acceptable principle that card cutting may be out by about 1 – 2 mm.
Stay Away From Borders
If possible, it is always a better idea to stay away from adding a border to your design, because even the most sophisticated machines and guillotine operators are not always 100% accurate when it comes to the cutting of the cards. If the card is cut even slightly off on one side then the borders are going to look noticeably lopsided. The better option is to blend these mistakes within a block color background.
Find Complementary Tones
As for the actual design of the business card, it is important to pick colors which look good together. This should be easy to achieve with the help of a ‘color palette’ – an aesthetic framework which lets you see which colors work together at a quick glance. Whilst it might be tempting to fill your business card with a bunch of bright colors (everybody loves color, right?), the reality is that it will look unappealing if they do not complement one another. Once you have a good idea about which colors you want to use, look at relevant color palettes to pinpoint the right shades.
Do Not Forget To Proofread
It is so easy and so commonplace for businesses to forget this essential last step. Yet, you must remember that, once a design has been sent to the printer, it cannot be recalled. If you print out a business card without proofreading the text first and then spot a mistake, the only options are to either stick with the incorrect card or cough up the cash for a second print run. The same rules apply for font size – do have a think about whether or not your choice is suitable for your audience. The last thing that you want is to have people squinting to read the name of your company.
Check the Featured Information
As for what needs to go on the business card, the choice is entirely up to you. Whilst there are some companies which prefer to keep details at a minimum, so as to intrigue rather than overload potential clients, there are others which stick to a more conventional approach. Nevertheless, you should make every effort to include the following things – the name of the company (obviously), the name of the primary contact, a phone number, and an email address. If you want to add a QR code, you can, but it is not strictly essential. See our guide for information that should be included.
Keep Things Simple
Where possible, avoid overly intricate fonts or designs which are hard to read and interpret at a glance. A good business card is snappy, interesting, and says everything that it needs to. It should, ideally it should message across using a very small amount of text. You are not trying to tell the recipient absolutely everything about the company – you are enticing them into wanting to find out more.
Know When to Seek Help
It can be tempting, especially for smaller businesses with tighter budgets, to convince themselves that an independently created print job is the best option. Whilst this can sometimes be a successful move, if you have no real experience of printing high quality promotional materials, it is always best to outsource the job. This is not the same as printing posters or flyers – if the quality is not high, people will just dismiss it. The same is true of the design; it is recommended that you find a professional designer to put in the required time and effort than doing it yourself and risking having an unprofessional businesscard. Your business card should act as a representation of your company and its ethos, so it needs to look professional in every aspect.
If your business card can embody all of these characteristics, it is ready to be sent to the printers, turned into a beautiful marketing tool, and taken out into the world.