How often were you handed a business card, which you put into your pocket or with the stash of all the other cards? We usually don't need every business card right away, so we tend to keep it for the future. And then the day comes where you go through your collection and you realize you have no idea what half of the cards are for... And that's because they are lacking certain elements! Don't be like those businesses and make sure people will remember you when looking at your business card! So here are my tips so this won't ever happen to you:
Include an Industry Description This is very important if you use a made-up brand name or your own one, because those don't usually give away what you do. For example, my business name is MilkyRosa, but that could basically be everything - from a children's boutique to a nail salon. That's why I add "branding, product design & strategy" to my card. This way, people will immediately know why they should contact me.
You could also use a short tagline. Mine is "Bold design for business-owners young-at-heart". Looking at my card, you immediately know what you are getting and if it's worth your time contacting me. Other examples for taglines could be "No more pain in 14 days" or "Making your wedding dreams come true".
Always ask yourself if you'd know what you do, if you weren't you. And if you are still unsure, ask someone else who has no knowledge about your business.
Add an Image People are extremely visual, that's why photos and illustrations work so well in catching someone's attention and help to communicate effectively. So why not support possible clients by including a photo on your business card.
Use a Photo of Yourself
This creates a human connection and shows you as a person, not just as a business. Doing this is almost a neccessity for businesses who work in close contact services such as masseurs or (physio)therapists, because people wanna know they can trust you and feel save. But it's also important for coaches or people who lean into personal branding. You are your business in those instances and people want to see who you are. The type of photo also shows off your personality, depending if you pick a black-and-white portrait with folded arms or one in bold colours that shows off a big smile.
Use a Photo of your Service/Product
Are you a baby, family or animal photographer? Then show your skills by including your work on your business card. You can also show a photo of your office, an illustration/pattern or a photo of your product. Incorporating a photo works really well if you use one side for the image and the other one for your information. There are many printers out there who even offer multiple motifs per order. This way you can pick more than one design and let your new contact choose what resonates best with them. Giving a potential client the option to choose will increase the likeliness of remembering you later on.
"In the end it all comes down to people remembering who you are and what you do - otherwise your business card will go in the trash!"
Use look and feel to your advantage Have you ever thought about how your business should feel? It's one part of branding that so many businesses overlook. Lots of people use a standard finish for their printed business cards, but because it will be touched, a business card should be a tactile experience. These are some options you can choose from for your business: Material Consider different paper stock options or non paper materials like plastic, metal or wood. All of them have very different textures! If your company is eco-conscious you could print on grass or kraft paper. You can even go as far and use paper that contains seeds to be planted - but I'd suggest you add a perforation so people can plant one part without losing your contact details ;)
A transparent plastic card can work really well if your business works with clear materials or glass, because your card will imitate the material you work with. The same goes for a wooden card for carpenters.
Paper Weight There's nothing worse than looking at a business card with bent corners or wrinkles. If your cards tend to "bruise" easily, that's usually because your paper is not strong enough to withstand its designated use. Business cards get put into back pockets of pants, wallets or thrown into handbags without any protection. They might get touched a lot and rub against different surfaces. I'd suggest you use at least 300gsm paper. Everything else is far too flimsy... Depending on the material, it can be as high as 700gsm (cardboard) or more.
Matt vs. Glossy
Matt and glossy evoke a different feel, but the finish also changes the look of your cards. Glossy makes your colours pop, but you also get a reflective surface, which might make it hard to read the information. Nowadays glossy might be seen as a cheaper-looking option, because it gets compared to sensational magazines.
With matt paper you might lose out on some bright colours, but it works well to communicate a more high-end and eco-friendly feel. If you want to go matt but incorporate some glossyness - use a glossy spot varnish to highlight certain elements.
There are plenty of different options to choose from like gold, silver, bronze or holographic foils. And, like mentioned before, you can add a glossy varnish. Spot treatments will enhance certain elements and draw people's focus to them. But because of the different texture, you will also feel the difference. Quite often I have received a business card in the past and right as it touched my fingertips I knew I had to take a closer look. And that's because it's not very common yet to play with tactile sensations.
Embossing/Debossing This technique adds a 3D-effect to your card. But be mindful of the negative impression it leaves on the back side! You can still print the back, but the em- or debossing will go over everything and might interfere or distract from the info. You can also only use this enhancement on one side. Depending on the printer, it might not be possible to mix and match other treatment options.
Shape The overall card shape doesn't have to be rectangular. You could customise the edges, add cut-outs or rounded courners. Depending on how much you change the design you might end up with new challenges. A smaller or square card is harder to find between standard-sized ones. Whereas a larger card might not fit into spaces meant for cards, like in your phone case or wallet. (In them, smaller cards will also dissapear and be hard to get out again.) This doesn't mean you can't use different shapes, but you should make an informed decision if it is worth it for your business.
You can also create interest by folding your business card like a tiny flyer. This way you get more space to work with. But don't overcrowd the card or print large promotions on it! This will look cheap and might push possible clients away.
Multi-Use-Purpose Who doesn't like a bit of cheekyness? That's where multi-purpose cards enter the converstation. Their interactive nature connect with the user and make for a memorable experience. You could have one side with a peel-off sticker (e.g. of your mascot) or you could add a pull-tab for some interactive movement. The sky is the limit for this creative option. But as I've said before, make sure your business card is still usable as such and the new element is an addition and not overpowering everything else. Never leave the second side blank! Every business card has two sides. I see so many businesses make the mistake of leaving one side blank. You wouldn't just print one side of a book cover either... So don't give away space you can use to promote your business or connect with your ideal customer. Using the second side gives you more room to play and it shows off your personality as a company. Also, putting all elements on one side gets crammed really quickly...
When you choose basic printing techniques, it even costs the same - if you use the second side or not! This is a common misconception people have about printing their business cards.
Leaving the second side bare also makes you look less professional. It's like you didn't bother to design the whole card. Your business card will reflect on your business - make sure the quality of your printed materials is in line with your products or services.
In the end it all comes down to this: If people can't remember who you are and what you do, your business card will go into the trash asap! And we don't want that to happen ;) Whatever you decide to go with, be sure it aligns with your company's core values and helps you communicates with your ideal client and your business to stand out.
Written by Nina Schindlinger
Hi, I am Nina - the founder and creative director of MilkyRosa Design Agency. I specialise in branding and product design for companies that are young-at-heart. My design style is bold, playful and charming, which I use to make the world a little bit more colouful and to make your company tangible for your customers and create an experience they will remember.