Business cards seem relatively simple. They need your company name and logo, your contact information, and a little design. Articles and blogs about business cards usually focus on the creative elements of business-card design. Getting your card noticed is nice, but you should think about the utility of your business card too. Pull out your business card and look at it. Have you made it easy for the person holding your card to remember you and reach you again? Here are five tips you should consider when designing new business cards.
1. Don’t use glossy paper. Yes, you want your card to look professional, and often we equate glossy with professional because it does look nicer. But it isn’t very functional. How often have you written notes on the back of someone’s card, such as physical cues about them, something specific you discussed, or their level of interest in your product? Well, you can’t do that very well on glossy paper. Instead, you get back to your office and see nothing more than indentations made by your pen, with no idea what you were trying to write. Although there is nothing you can do to prevent receiving glossy cards from contacts, you can make it easier for them to make notes on you by using a light card stock that makes writing easier.
2. Don’t use dark colors. I personally like dark colors when it comes to design. Websites and marketing collateral with dark backgrounds just seem to have that “cool” factor. However, just like with glossy paper, they can actually be counterproductive. Sure, you want your business cards to give off a certain vibe, but don’t do that at the expense of function. By printing on a light card stock, you’ll increase the chances of a digital card reader (which many people use) to pick up your contact information. And the easier it is for someone to get your information into a database, the more likely they’ll be able to reach you when the need arises.
3. Display your contact information prominently. Yes, you want to make sure your business card tells a little bit about what your company does. But a business card is more for contacting purposes, not for selling purposes. So a business card is more like the white pages than the yellow pages. People scroll though contact lists looking for a specific person, rather than looking for a type of business they may want to use. So make it easy for the person to find you on your card, as well as your contact information. Make each piece of information very clear, both in placement and description. And not all contact information is of equal importance. Business cards usually put phone and fax numbers right next to each other, in the same font and size. That’s not very efficient, and can be a disservice to whoever is reading your card. People will call much more than send a fax to you, and it is easy to punch in the wrong number when the two look so similar.
4. Put your picture on it. It may sound a little over the top, but isn’t a business card about promoting your business? And aren’t you, as an individual, an extension of that business? Realtors, bankers and attorneys know this, based on their penchant for putting their pictures on billboards, print ads and business cards. But besides the self-promotion, there is a practical reason for doing it. You hand out business cards usually one at a time, when you meet someone face-to-face. They know what you look like when you give them a card. But they probably will not remember your face later, unless you’re smiling at them from the card in their hand. And since people are more likely to do business with people they know and like, that smiling face can go a long way toward making them feel like they know and like you, even if you’ve met in person just once.
5. Keep the design consistent with your marketing. Your business card should be an extension of your marketing materials to make sure your branding stays consistent across all platforms. So even though the card will be used more for contacting than marketing, you want someone who has been exposed to your branding elsewhere to instantly recognize you belong to the same organization as soon as they see your card. If your card happens to be their first exposure to your brand, then you want them to know they are at the right spot when they go to your website.