Business Cards (part 2) Creating a Business Card

Business Cards (part 2) Creating a Business Card

The best business card is useful, memorable, and is a reflection of your image. The art of creating a successful business card has always been a challenge; today it might actually be harder than ever before. Let’s start at the beginning of the process. 

What does your choice of paper say about you?
There’s white. And then there’s “white”. Ivory works sometimes; but so do colored papers. In fact, if you can describe it, there’s a printer who will find that exact colored paper for your card. After color, there’s the thickness of the paper, that is, the “weight”, to consider. If it’s too thick it won’t comfortably fit among the other cards. If it’s too thin it might be perceived as cheap in a bad way. You don’t want to come off as cheap, do you? Of course not. 

Then there’s finish, matte or glossy, even UV coating. Matte sounds like it’s bland, but it’s really not. It’s just not glossy. Some designs work better on matte than glossy. And if you ever wanted to hand write on your card, it’s not going to happen on a glossy finished one. But glossy is usually an upgrade and an upgrade is perceived as added value. We all want to be seen as having added value, no?

Thought you were done with paper? Think again. You still need to decide whether to use linen or cotton card stock; textured or not; recycled paper or not. 

All this and all you’ve done is chosen paper. Of course you could avoid all of the above by not even using paper.

Not Paper.
The majority of people do choose paper for their cards. But for some industries, and some individuals, creativity trumps all. And with modern printing options, the sky’s the limit in terms of what we can print on. While they might not fit in a rolodex, there are business cards made from plastic (manufaturers) and others from of silicon (hi-tech); some are made of thin slices of wood (artists or carpenters) and some cards are even edible (bakeries or cake decorators). Of course, if you work in banking, an edible business card is probably not projecting the image you seek.

There’s no limit to the shapes a printer can die-cut to give your business card a unique look. Let your imagination go wild. Cards in the shape of a dog bone could be perfect for a business in the pet care industry. Is your business selling houses? A house-shaped card works. Do you repair boats for a living? Then maybe the shape of a boat is best for you. I think you get the idea. You are no longer limited to horizontal rectangles. In fact, who ever said that those rectangles need to lay horizontally; because they don’t.

Ink Colors.
You’ve selected your paper and card shape; ink color choices come next. Welcome to the world of endless options! Suddenly, finding just the right yellow to go with just the right blue to go with just the right brown keeps you up at night, doesn’t it? And to some degree it should.  Most business people understand the branding process enough to realize that getting the colors right and getting a recognizable color palette is no less important than creating a logo.

Of course, the choice of colors can entirely depend on the industry in which you work. Woe to the graphic artist who thinks that black ink on a white paper will attract customers. On the other hand, what banking executive would be taken seriously if her business card was hot pink paper with neon green ink? Come to think of it, hot pink and neon green might be too much for anybody’s business card. But the point is, take your industry and the persona you are presenting into consideration when you make your ink color choices.

Serif or Not to Serif, That Is The Question.
There are literally thousands of font types. And just when you think you’ve found one that you absolutely love, it turns out that it makes your name go “funny”. The letter “V” is one of those. In some fonts it looks like a perfectly good “V”; in other fonts it looks like a “U”. Very often a font that looks great “on the rack” just doesn’t look right once you’ve added your name and details.

And don’t even get me started on font size. Too small and people can’t read it. Too large and people think you are yelling at them. Or your details won’t fit on your 3.5”x2” card. Oh, did I mention you can also opt for different sizes of business cards?

The Little Things.
You might think that paper, shape, size, color, and print font were enough variables to contend with. But they are not. There’s the lay of the card (vertical or horizontal); one-sided or two; with or wothout a fold; choice of logo as well as placement of logo; all of which have to be decided before your printer can begin your order.

Are we done? Not yet.

Have You Considered the 21st Century Business Card?
Up until now we’ve assumed that business cards need to be something printed that we can carry around in our pocket and then hand over to people we’ve just met. For about 600 years that’s how business cards, or calling cards, worked. But no longer. Today, if you have a smartphone, you can use e-business cards. No need to work with a printing company ever again. The software needed to create e-business cards range from free to expensive depending on how creative you want to be and how many functions you want. Once created, by using NFC (Near Field Communication) and simply touching 2 phones together, the receiving phone’s software not only accepts the card, but can often sort it and immediately integrate the relevant data into the phone's and email contacts list.  These "cards" can be emailed to any recipient from a distance or for those whose phone does not have NFC capability.

In Short.
In short it's clear that creating a business card is serious business that takes hours and hours of consideration and seemingly endless options. If you are still in doubt what your card should look like, take a look at the business cards from people who you respect and who are successful in your field. Follow their cues.

Do you realize that we haven’t even touched upon what needs to appear on your business card.
Let’s leave that for the next blog, shall we?

Happy travels!


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