In spite of all of the great technology that abounds in the business world, the business card still maintains a significant place in marketing and networking. Regardless of how many fancy electronic tools are out there, you’ll always be asked for a business card at some point.
A business card is often the first tangible impression some people get of your business. It is impossible to overemphasize the necessity of investing a little time into creating a well-designed business card.
Business cards are a handy tool as you build your startup business. Your business cards are your introduction in mailings, at trade shows, and anytime you are asked for your contact information. Business cards facilitate word of mouth about your business as friends, co-workers, satisfied clients, and others within your network pass them along to people who need your company’s product or service.
Even in today’s increasingly online, computer-driven world, the traditional business card is one of the best advertising tools you can use. However, it is essential to follow a few guidelines when it comes to business cards.
Highlight your logo.
Your logo should be the largest element on your card. A logo is often the most important part of brand identity. Think about Nike, McDonald’s, or Pepsi. Those logos are instantly identifiable almost worldwide, because they are used prominently and consistently. Your logo should be the strongest feature of your business card.
Have a professional graphic designer create your business card.
Nothing ruins a first impression quicker than poorly designed business card that looks like it was slapped together by a high school student in ten minutes. Most business cards will cost less than $200 for a freelance graphic designer to create, especially if you have an existing vector logo. If you absolutely must use business cards you have designed yourself, these guidelines become all the more important to keep in mind.
Have the card printed on a four-color press.
If you are on a strict budget, you can operate for a little while using cards printed on your own printer, but you will want to invest in cards printed on a press as quickly as possible. Self-printed cards are cheap, and they look like it. That is not the first impression you want to make with your potential customers. Press-printed cards have perfectly crisp graphics, finished edges, and options like UV coating for professional appearance and protection. With prices under $50 for 5,000 business cards widely available, there is little excuse to have a business card that isn’t professionally printed.
Include the essentials.
The primary components of your business card should be your logo, your business’s name, your name, phone number, email address and website. Some business card designs will allow for extra information like Quick Response codes, extra phones, or professional credentials which may be necessary to your business success.
Focus on one or two colors.
Ideally a company can be identified in-part by one or two colors it uses as part of its brand identity. These colors are usually the only colors in the logo. If it uses color at all, your business card should reflect your company’s colors. Using more than two colors can be distracting to your card’s recipients and is usually a sign of a poorly designed business card.
Don’t cram too much information on your card.
Your business card is great advertising, but if you want customers who receive your business card to read a blog, give your website on the card. Don’t have a ton of useless information on the card for potential customers to slog through as they try extracting your contact information from the jumble of words on your business card.
Don’t use hard-to-read fonts.
Calligraphy or script may be beautiful, but it is difficult to read. Just as your potential clients do not want to read a novel off of your business card, they also do not want to have to squint to read a font that is too small or a typeface that is difficult to read. Your business card should use a very legible type in a large enough size to be readable.
Don’t be boring…or garish.
While your business card should be simple, easily readable, and easy to carry, it shouldn’t bore the recipient of your card. Use a textured paper, get it UV coated, have it die-cut into a shape that symbolizes your business. Make it interactive with your printed information on the front and a QR code on the back. Have the card embossed or give it some class with foil stamping. Your card can be simple and elegant without being boring and garish. Keep your customers’ sensibilities in mind.
Don’t go overboard.
While a business card die-cut to look like a longboard might be a fantastic idea for a surfboard dealer, it would be a bad idea for a financial consulting business. Society has certain expectations about companies in various sectors of the market, and it is important that your business card presents an image that fits your potential clients’ mental picture of what your type of business should look.
Don’t make your card a link farm.
Your card should carry a single link to your website. It does not need visual clutter pointing out your Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest, and Foursquare accounts. These things might belong in your email signature where you can simply use logos that link to services you’d like your customers to interact with you on, and they can certainly be on your website, but they do not belong on your business card.
Your business card is your handshake – an introduction to potential clients whether you are physically present or not. It could make a splash or it could nuke a sale. It is your single-most personal and often most effective advertising tool. As you create a business card for your new business, take some time to carefully consider what it will say to your network and customers.