First impressions are vital
What to consider when designing a business card
Tuesday 6 December, 2011
By Helen Thomas - email@example.com
Top tips for designing a great business card and avoiding the pitfalls.
There is no shortage of websites dedicated to showcasing rubbish business cards and it’s likely you’ve been handed plenty that have hit the bin within seconds, so what does it take to create a great business card?
American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman obsesses over the most minuscule details of his business card from the exact shade of subtle off-white to the “oh my God, it even has a watermark!” unique finishing touch. While this may be a psychopathic bridge too far, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a good business card.
To help you avoid your card being the one winging its way into the waste paper bin, here are our top tips for designing a great business card:
- Consider its purpose: Say what you do clearly and concisely - you want people to get in touch who need your services. If it isn’t clear what you do at first glance it’s likely your card will be quickly discarded.
Don’t just rely on your company name - add a very brief explanation or marketing message, but avoid unnecessary “Captain Obvious” statements; “Dr Jane Smith, dentist, “I do teeth”” is probably unnecessary.
- Contact details: It may be obvious, but have you included, and checked, all of your important contact details?
- Don’t be unprofessional: Nothing says amateur like using a Hotmail/Gmail/Yahoo! email address as your business address. Get a domain name. Now.
Ditto multiple job titles - be a web designer, not a web designer and part-time hairstylist. You’ll be lucky to find a client who wants you to restyle their website and their ’do, and you are likely to be overlooked as a jack of all trades and master of none.
- Be social: Don’t forget your social tags for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like if these are a part of your business communication.
- Creative designs: This is a minefield, approach with caution. A business card can be a great promotional tool, but only if you get it right.
The general rule is to keep your card fit for your industry, but add a little flair to make it memorable.
If your industry is something particularly creative you have a licence to go nuts. After all, your card will be a little snapshot of your work and style, and you want it to showcase your creativity and stand out from the crowd.
If you are an accountant, it would be prudent to stay more conventional. A quirky card doesn’t say reassuring or reliable, which is probably what you want from your accountant.
- It doesn’t need to be boring though - your card can be eyecatching, but still stay relevant to your market:
Divorce lawyer. Photo by Brett Jordan.
Security consultant. Photo by Ran Yaniv Hartstein.
There are a growing number of speciality materials you can use as the base for your business cards, from wood to beef jerky, but remember the market relevance rule - will your clients want a card holder smelling of sweaty meat?
- Style: Anything that doesn’t fit in a card holder, or wallet, is unlikely to be kept, so consider the dimensions, including thickness, of your card carefully.
Similarly, lots of people make notes straight on to business cards to aid memory, so anything without space, too dark or too shiny will make this impossible, and therefore, make your card less functional.
Remember to keep the font size readable too - a minimum of size 12.
- Print: Avoid the temptation to cut costs by printing cards yourself - it looks unprofessional even before you have got to the wonky edges due to the home guillotine cutting.
Ultimately, it is you who makes the first impression, but your business card should be your righthand man, working as a useful reminder service and following up on the good work you did in person.