We all seem to be totally obsessed with new marketing tools like content marketing, website design, SEO and now social media marketing, as modern-day marketers that we often overlook traditional marketing materials such as design for print! The most fundamental form of printed material is the humble business card – but how powerful can they be?
The answer is – they are really crucial: at business events, meeting clients face to face, or when we just happen to run into someone we might want to do business with. How are these important contacts going to contact you? Having business cards is a crucial way of promoting yourself in the physical environment and we’ll see later in the internet.
Because the business card is the fundamental piece of collateral with your contacts details that you give to real people, you really need to invest the same time and energy into designing your business cards that you do when designing a website. You’ll need your business card to serve as a sort of mini portfolio that displays your skills and start to create a brand for you.
The standard business card is 2 x 3.5, in either vertical or landscape orientation. The landscape is more traditional, but plenty of people and companies now opt for vertical layouts.
There are many benefits to using this standard size, the main one being that it’s generally less expensive because it’s the most used. It will fit in standard business card holders and its instantly recognizable as a business card – important if you are trading with foreign clients.
But these days the world is your oyster because most modern printers can set up cutter-guides to cut virtually any shape and size for a more dramatic effect.
Wacky shapes can be used or maybe just the traditional rectangle but with rounded corners to communicate a softer, more creative brand identity.
You might though go for a custom shape – maybe picking up on your company logo, hero product or motif.
Or go for over-sized or under-sized cards are growing in popularity. All of these form-factors will help you make an impact and more memorable.
Folded cards are yet another option and allow you to describe your business proposition more completely.
Materials and Printing processes
You need to think about the card stock you use and the print process. A thicker card will communicate quality and will increase brand perception, but its more expensive. Digital print is cheaper in low runs, but Litho looks better – and again creates a stronger image of quality.
Think also about the card colour – before printing – most business cards are printed on either cream or white stock. But you can choose any colour so ask your designer for the options to create the image you are seeking for your business.
Texture is also important. Do you want your business card glossy (can’t write on the back), smooth or rough? Do you want spot varnish to ‘lift’ a particular motif on the card or maybe you want to use a material that you supply or your products are manufactured from – for example, plastic or wood – these will communicate instantly what your business is all about.
How many colours, one colour, standard 4 colours or event 4 colours and specials? More colour is not necessarily better – is your communication better with less?
Whatever you do your business card must reflect your overall branding – and if it’s the first piece of branding you are producing, then make sure the design can be scaled to websites, newsletters and other types of marketing collateral. There must be a common design theme throughout all the places that customers will find out about you and your company for maximum effect. This is really important.
But be as creative with your business card design as you would be with your website design.
What information should you include?
The business card’s primary function is for clients and prospects to access your key contact details so the information you put on the card is crucial as to how effective it will be.
Many people want to include every piece of information they can think of on their business card but because of their small format, it is definitely a case of less is more.
What you do choose to put on your business card is directly dependent on the graphic design and how you most expect to be contacted by clients and prospects. Your business card might only include your website address for example if your name is the same as your domain.
After your logo, most likely you will also need to include your name, your company name, what you do, and your basic contact information. This is your phone (mobile on its own looks unprofessional), email and website address. You might feel you need to provide your address if this is an office and clients are likely to visit you there.
And if you are active on social media, you might consider your twitter name, your Facebook page plus any relevant professional certifications or memberships.
The humble business card tells your clients and prospects a lot about your business – take time to get it right!
Written by Michael Forbes