Top 10 things to remember when creating business cards

When it comes to the business of business cards, first impressions are everything. Much like a handshake, your business card creates an immediate and subconscious impression. Handing over a flimsy business card is just like extending a limp handshake–and no one likes a limp handshake!

Budget to be recognized

In the business world, there are an elite few willing to spend that little extra that it takes to be recognized. However, when you are handed one of these cards, you might find yourself admiring it for a few seconds longer than usual, and possibly hang on to the card longer than others. Use your business card as a tool to help capture, retain, and lift your brand in the minds of others. If your card looks and feels like you mean business–you’ll be perceived as such.

Dare to be different

If you were to grab a few business cards and lay them out side-by-side in front of you, what element captures your eye first? The person's name? Company logo? Does anything stand out? The real question is, what do you want others to see first? Dare to be different, but don’t omit your company logo and your name. Regardless of how different you make your card, these two items should remain as the two most important bits of information on the card.

Save money with shell printing

Most printers will charge setup fees for every business card print run. This setup fee varies from printer to printer, and depending on how often you have to runoff new business cards, can certainly add up. If you know you will need to print new cards often or at least a few sets of new cards on an annual basis, you may want to consider shell printing, the practice of printing common or unchanging elements on a business card or brochure, sometimes in larger quantities for cost effectiveness. These shells can then be printed with customized information on an as-needed basis.

Put content first

Before designing a business card, you should first list out the content that you want on the card. Some companies prefer to keep it simple. Others like to load the card with both individual and main office contact information. Some even throw in a company tagline, social media links, and a marketing message for good measure. Regardless of how much information is going on your business card, always be sure to choose an appropriate font size and weight so the information is easily read at arms length.

Size matters

Your standard business card (in America) is 3.5" x 2”. Though, it doesn’t have to be that size. It could be shorter or longer, but I would recommend staying within the standard size so that your card easily fits into a wallet. Some general pros and cons of altering the standard size:

Pros:

  • - You stand out from your competition.
  • - Your company is seen as being unique and innovative.
  • - More likely to be remembered after first meeting. 

Cons:

  • - Can accidentally fall out of a stack of standard-sized cards (if smaller).
  • - Could impact the amount of room to put contact information.
  • - Custom sizes can sometimes incur higher printing costs.

Paper selection

There are several aspects of paper that can change the appearance and impact of your business card–brightness, texture/finish, thickness, and even materials. 

A good general weight for business card stock is 100lb. cover or greater. If you are on a budget, ask the printer what house paper they would recommend. The house paper is typically a brand of paper the printer keeps in stock, and will have similar qualities to other brands but at a reduced cost.

Of all the types of paper to choose, most businesses use uncoated paper. The two biggest reasons being; coated paper does not allow you to easily write on the card with a pen or pencil; and because most prefer the finish of the card to match their letterhead.

Backside of the card

The back of a business card is a great place for additional information or purely to help lift the impact of the brand.

Digital vs Offset printing (Quantity vs Quality)

Not long ago, your print options were “expensive” and “very expensive”. Though printing is still relatively expensive today, a more affordable alternative to standard offset printing is usually digital printing. While with digital printing you have less control over color accuracy and consistency between printed sheets, this method is great for short runs (under 1000 cards). Although, digital printing has come a long way, if you absolutely must hit your brand colors, or really want the quality of your cards to stand out, offset printing is the way to go.

Special treatments

Rounded corners, diecuts, spot varnishes, metallic inks, embossing and more–there are a number of special treatments you can use to boost the impact of your business card. Usually there is a set-up fee for any special treatments, so be prepared to pay a little extra.

QR Codes

A QR code (Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode, readable by QR code readers and specially enabled mobile devices. Since most smart phones can read them, you may want to consider incorporating a QR Code on your next business card–and have your information directly uploaded to your phone in seconds.