Someone hands you their business card. Immediately you begin to create ideas in your head about the person or about their business based on their card. Some business cards may enhance your view of the person – making you think of them as more professional than you did when you first met them, or impressing you in some other way. But, some cards leave a lasting impression by being less than desirable. Some people give you cards that ends up diminishing your value of that person or their business.
The business card you had out, in fact, says a lot about you. A high quality paper or an interesting shape may convey that you are either successful (and have money to spend on business card “extras”) or you are very creative and value uniqueness. But the content and the layout of the content on the card says a lot as well.
If it is true that you only get one chance to make a first impression, then you don’t want your business card to convey the wrong message, especially when it may be more lasting than a face-to-face interaction. Business cards go home with the person to remind them of who you are, and you don’t get a chance to change that after it’s been done. So what can you do to ensure that your business cards leave the right impression from the get go?
If you are designing your own business cards, be sure to follow these simple tips to enhance, and not diminish your value and impression.
1. Don’t blind, don’t bore
When creating a professional business card, you don’t have to skimp out on color. However, you don’t want to use too much of it either. Of course, most people are limited by the colors of their company logo, and we don’t recommend straying from that. The point is, too much white is boring, and too much color detracts from the text on the card. A good rule of thumb is to keep the card to 2-3 colors maximum, with the same colors front and back.
2. Be font-smart
Again, you are probably somewhat limited to your branding fonts, but if you have a really funky font in your logo, do not use it throughout the whole card. For example, if your logo is in script, do not use that same script for everything on your card. We recommend sticking to 2 fonts on business cards: one very readable font for important information or smaller text, and one accent font for your name if you want to spice things up.
3. Limit yourself
Force yourself to be picky about what you put on your card. Do you really need to put the price of your services when you have a website that they can go to to find that out? Your business cards should be about how to contact you because of the services you offer. No one can buy directly from your business card. With that in mind, include only enough information to let the person know what you do (in a nutshell, not all 37 of the products or services your offer) and how to contact you about that.
4. First things first
Try to keep information in a logical order. Your name and logo or company name should be most prominent. If you really want people to contact you so you can convince them to do business with you, then make your contact information larger. If you want people to already be sold on your business when they do call you, then highlight your services with a larger font or include that information above your contact information. You can effectively arrange information in so many ways, but just make sure it makes some sense.
5. Room to write
You’ve just met someone at a networking event and you want to remember to call them about that trade show coming up, so you grab a pen to write down a note right on their card, right? Well, if there isn’t much room to write, you might not write it down or you might not see it later. When you design your cards, leave some open space that people can write in if they need to. You don’t need to include a “notes” section or guiding lines, but leaving the back of the card mostly empty with just your logo or web address will do the trick.
6. Take a shot?
We get this question often: I have a professional headshot, should I use it on my business card or not? This is really up to the card holder, and in some businesses it doesn’t make sense to use a headshot. If you are thinking about using one, make sure that it is a professional and relevant photo, and make sure that it is recent enough that people will recognize you in person. Also, think back to tip#3 and ask yourself if your headshot is relevant information. For some, it is. For others, it is not.
7. I think we need some space
It’s not you, it’s me. Or, it’s your overly cluttered business card. Hopefully you learned from step 5 to only include the most critical information on your business card, but even with minimal information, it is easy to cram your words too closely. Bigger is better, right? No. Make your text readable, but not as big as possible. Everyone likes a little space.
Not all well-designed business cards will follow all of these tips, but they offer a good place to start, especially if graphic design is not your hobby of choice! If you think you have a design that needs some help, see if these tips can help, and if you feel more comfortable handing your design off to us, we will be glad to give you a fresh, professional look.