8 Steps to an Effective Business Card

woman pointing at business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

The business card is an old dog that’s learned quite a few new tricks.

A lot of different print work comes through our doors at Paw Print, but business cards consistently remain the most popular order. Business cards trace their roots back to 15th century China, when visitors left “visiting cards” at the homes of businessmen they hoped to meet with. Over the centuries these cards evolved to convey a variety of information, but one thing remained constant: they were designed to make an impression.

Often a business card is one of the first things a customer or potential client will receive from you. A well-designed business card can go a long way towards creating a favorable impression of your business, as well as generating engaging conversations between you and your customers.

Why Should You Print Business Cards?

The traditional function of a business card is to provide customers and professional colleagues with contact information, like your phone number, address, and website. Business cards offer variations of this content, but the truth is that this information is usually easy to find on the web. Having it in a physical form is helpful, but is not as essential as it was in the past.

businessman smiling and holding out business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

The key role of a business card today is to make an impression. Your card needs to say something about your brand that goes beyond how to contact you. To be the most effective, you need a card that recipients will want to hang on to, so that you will stay top of mind and clients will keep coming back to you for their needs.

Business Card Design Tips

1) Business Cards Need to Align with Your Branding

floral printed business cards on pink background
Logo psd created by Freepik

Consumers today access content from numerous sources. And, they expect to be able to move across platforms seamlessly. This includes print, and it means that all of your marketing platforms should consistently utilize the same visual design elements, like color, layout, font, and images.  You will want your business cards to contain these same elements because your card is a reflection of your brand. If your card doesn’t accurately reflect who your company is and what customers can expect from you, it will lead to confusion.

2) Convey Quality and Confidence

Letterpress business cards
A heavy stock with a debossed logo creates a memorable, tactile impression.

Print materials have endless variety, in part due to the variety of paper stocks you can choose from. This includes variations in the color, thickness, and texture of the paper. A business card is often the first, and sometimes only, material a potential client may receive from you. You need your card to create a favorable impression of your brand, so don’t skimp. Heavier stocks have a superior feel, conveying confidence and quality. Your customers will be able to tell and feel the difference.

3) Ensure Readability

It’s difficult to get a true sense of a printed product by looking at a digital file. Just because you can read something when it’s blown up on a computer screen does not mean it will be as easy to read when printed. Make sure your text is both large enough to read and clearly printed, not obscured by complicated font or design elements.

4) Talk to Your Printer

Sometimes text or borders can get cut off if they aren’t far enough from the edge of the card. Ask your printer where to place information so it won’t be lost when printed and trimmed.

5) Don’t Forget the Back!

Many business cards are only printed on one side. This leaves an empty canvas you could be using to make more of an impression. While you don’t want both sides to be the same, you can use the back of the card to include another design element or more details about your services. It gives the impression that you offer a well-rounded product or service.

6) Get Creative & Design for Impact

A business card doesn’t have to be a flat, simple rectangle. Printing options today allow for many variations on texture and shape. You could do a deboss on a card to achieve a 3D effect, or use cutouts for a creative touch. Other “wow” enhancements include engraving, foil stamping, thermography (raised ink), die cut shapes, and spot coatings.

7) Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

hand holding black business card with simple white and yellow design
Logo psd created by Freepik

Consider the bare essentials that you must include on your card. If you really want to drive traffic to digital resources, for instance, don’t include a physical address on the card. Trying to cram too much information and too many design elements onto a small card could make it memorable for the wrong reasons. Simplicity portrays professionalism and the sense that you make things easy for your customers.

8) Convey an Emotion

A big piece of the marketing pie is that people buy on emotion. What emotion do you want recipients of your card to experience? This requires a bit more thought, as you have to know who your clients are and what solution or sense of fulfillment they are looking for from your business. How can you portray what you will offer your clients? Try to capture the enthusiasm you have for your business in the card you hand out.

Print has stuck around because of its tactile power. Being able to hold something in your hands improves recall and sends a more personal message than a digital communication. If you’d like to add business cards to your marketing strategy, or feel your current card needs some love, contact Paw Print & Mail today to start the discussion.

This post was originally published December 6, 2017, and updated April 25, 2019.

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