Alive and Well: The Business Card

, ,
Young Design business card design
While much of communication collateral has moved from printed to online/digital, the business card remains a staple. Priceless when networking in the real world, an effective business card is also a must in branding. Yep, we can all search our phones to get contact info, but come on – how memorable is your phone’s contact list? I have a bowl of business cards that I’ve collected from contacts, and they feel like treasure.

What exactly makes a good business card? Employees may not have much choice in how their card looks, but if you’re running a company or you’re a consultant, you’ve got the freedom to create and print a really good-looking card.

Here are the main elements to keep in mind:
  • Use a good card stock. The current trend is for a heavy card stock; flimsy feels, well, flimsy – and somehow the weight of the card translates into how seriously you should be taken. Are you a business lightweight or heavyweight?
  • Use color. It used to be that most cards were printed in 2-color (i.e., one PMS color plus black). Four-color process printing gets expensive for business cards, but now we have digital printing in the mix. I still prefer 4-color offset printing, if it’s in your budget. A bleed is nice, too: A bleed is when the color extends to the very edge of the card. It can be an additional cost, but I really like flooding one or both sides of the card with a bleed.
  • Have a good design. A card shouldn’t tell your whole story. Refrain from putting a paragraph of copy on side B, or listing every service you provide. Make good use of white space; it will make it easier to read your title, email and phone number. In the scheme of things, your company logo should be smaller than larger.
  • Use special print effects. Cool treatments like embossing, die cuts, fold-outs, stitching and so forth are usually reserved for the creative fields, like art, design and architecture – and of course printing companies. I love them all, but unless they’re supported by a great design, they’re an unnecessary expense. Have a look at some amazing cards with special effects at
  •  . . . But don’t get too quirky. This is your professional card, so keep the weirdness at home. Another reason for good design. A beautiful card can get away with being quirky. But an ugly card just can’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to order high print quantities. Unless your contact information will be changing soon, buy a minimum of 250 and seriously consider 500 (per name). The price breaks between printing 250 and 500 are minimal. Remember, this is a marketing tool. The beauty of having lots of cards is that it will make you use them!