Choose a card style that’s appropriate for your business, industry and personal style. If you’re a funeral director, for example, you don’t want to be caught handing out day-glow cards with cartoon figures on them. If you’re a mechanic whose specialty is converting old Beetles into dune buggies, a formal, black-on-white engraved card will probably be dropped into the nearest circular file. When crafting a design, start with the style that best supports the business image you wish to project. To help you get started, here are five different card styles for you to consider:
- Basic cards. A basic card is usually printed in black ink on plain white or cream stock. This is a good style to choose when utility is all you need. It’s a no-nonsense approach that can appeal to clients and prospects who would not be impressed by fancy design features-the people who want “just the facts, ma’am.” The design is simple, and the information is clear and concise.
- Picture cards. Having your face on your card-whether it’s a photograph, a drawing or a caricature-helps a contact remember you the next time he or she sees you. Images representing a product or service, or a benefit your business provides, can help you communicate your business better than dozens of words. A splash of color (rather than just black and white) is often helpful on a picture card, too.
- Tactile cards. Some cards are distinguished not so much by how they look as by how they feel. They may use nonstandard materials, such as metal or wood, or have unusual shapes, edges, folds or embossing. Tactile cards tend to be considerably more expensive than regular cards because they use nonstandard production processes such as die cuts. But for some businesses, this more unusual card may be worth the price.
- Multipurpose cards. A card can do more than promote your name and business-it can also serve as a discount coupon, an appointment reminder or some other function. It may also provide valuable information that the average person may need. For example, a hotel may include a map on the back of its card for any guests who are walking around the local area. A card of any type can be made multipurpose by adding any of these types of features.
- Outside-the-box cards. A wildly original, fanciful or extravagant presentation can draw extra attention. Creativity knows no bounds-except the amount of money you wish to spend. Some examples are cards made of chocolate or that folded out into a miniature box to keep small items in.
It’s Time to Order
Once you’ve settled on a basic idea for your business card, it’s time to head to the printer. There are four primary considerations when ordering business cards:
- Weight. Most business cards are printed on 80-pound cover stock.
- Finish. Of the three available-smooth, linen and laid-the smooth finish is the most popular.
- Color. Right now, two-color cards predominate. If you’re selecting from a catalog, there are between five and 15 standard colors to choose from. If you have another ink color in mind, your printer can show you a Pantone Matching System book, which includes every shade under the sun.
- Quantity. It generally pays to print more cards rather than fewer, because the printer’s cost is primarily in the setup.
A good business card should convey the overall image of your business — not easy, considering the card measures only 2 inches by 3.5 inches.
How can you possibly get a message across in such a small amount of space?
You can’t expect your business card to tell the whole story about your company. What you should expect it to do is present a professional image people will remember.
The color, wording and texture of our business card have a lot to do with its appeal and its ability to convey your company image.
Use common sense when you are designing your business card.
If your business markets children’s toys and games, you might try using bright, primary colors and words written in child’s script. On the other hand, if you run a financial consulting service, then you want your business card to convey professionalism and reliability, so stick to traditional looks such as black printing on a gray, beige or white background.
Of course, professional designers claim entrepreneurs should not try to attempt designing a business card on their own, but many cash-strapped business owners have no other choice.
The best course of action: Look at all the business cards you receive, and emulate the cards that you like. You may have more leeway if you are in a creative business, such as party planning or retailing, but in general, keep the following tips in mind:
Use your logo as the basis. Make it the largest element on the card.
Keep it simple. Do not cram too much information on the card.
Do include the essentials — your name, title, company name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email and website addresses.
Make sure the typeface is easily readable.
Stick to one or two colors.
- Once you’ve got business cards, make the most of them:
Always give people more than one card (so they can give it to others).
Include your card in all correspondence.
Carry cards with you at all times, in a card case so they’re clean and neat.
- Business cards don’t have to be boring. If your industry allows for a little creative flair, here are some ideas to try:
- Use 4-inch-by-7-inch cards that fold over (like a mini brochure), cards made of plastic or cards with photos on them.
- Although they are more standard than standard business cards, cards in nontraditional shapes get attention. Try a teddy bear shape for a day-care service, for example, or a birthday cake for a party planner.
- Textured paper can add to a card’s interest, as can colored paper. In general, stay with lighter shades that enhance readability.
- Thermography, a process that creates raised, shiny print, adds interest to a card. Embossing and foil stamping are two other printing processes that can give your card visual appeal.
Business cards don’t have to be boring.