The Business Card: Alive and Well

While a lot of marketing collateral has moved from printed to online, the business card remains a staple. Priceless when networking in the real world, an effective business card is also a must in branding. Yet they're often overlooked as a marketing tool. Sure, we can all bump our phones to get contact info, but just how memorable is your phone's contact list? I have a bowl of business cards that I've collected from contacts (the Rolex bit the dust long ago), and they feel like treasure.

Too often when I ask for someone's card they say, "Here it is, but it's not very good." They're embarrassed by their 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 a really good one. And if you're proud of your cards, you're likely to use them more.

Rocanini business card

Want a card you can show off? Here are some tips:

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 wisely. It used to be that most cards were printed in 2-color (one Pantone color plus black). Minimalist cards with good design can look great in just one color. If you want full color, I prefer 4-color offset printing (vs. digital), but it can get expensive. 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 like letting parts of artwork bleed off the edge, or flooding one or both sides of the card with a full bleed of color.

Have a designer create the card. A good designer will come up with unique concepts for that 3.5-inch x 2-inch dimension. They'll make the best use of white space, making it easy to read your name, title and contact information. A card shouldn't tell your whole story, so refrain from seeing side B as a space to fill with lots of text, or listing every goshdarn service you provide. And in the scheme of things, your company logo should be smaller rather than larger.

Use special print effects. Cool treatments like custom sizes, 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. 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. A beautiful card can get away with being quirky. But an ugly card just can't. Another reason for good design.

Don't be afraid of ordering high print quantities. Unless you think 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!

Don't stash your cards in a drawer; use them. Obviously, you'll use your card in a business or networking situation. But what about neighbors, friends, casual acquaintances? Someone expressing an interest in your business is the perfect opportunity to say, "Would you like my card?"

 Young Design business cards

Pinterest design

Cement bcards

Whitescope bcard


Photos:, Young Design, and