Tips and tricks on how to design your business card to draw attention!
Even before starting to design a business card we have to think what the purpose of a business card actually is? Is a business card required only to convey some information across or does it have a more subtle function? These questions are not very easy to answer and there is no definite one word answer to this. Well the primary function of a business card is to convey information about the entity it represents. Be it a person or a business, this primary goal has to be addressed first but nevertheless a business card has to convey other things as well; for example it has to instill a sense of dependability and trust about the entity it represents in the minds of the target audience. Hence designing a business card has more to it than we ordinarily think. While the primary objective of a business card is to provide information it has a secondary duty to create the first impression on a prospect. Sometimes the first impression is the only impression you get to create so this is of immense importance. The design elements determine whether the business card makes its way to the card holder or to the dustbin. Your business card is the face of the entity it represents and people will only take you seriously if you have a good and well designed business card. It also has the contact information about your business or you so it is also a call to action tool for you.
In order to write this article I carried out a survey myself and tried to find out what kind of business cards were being used by local business here. I went to a medium sized mall and started collecting business cards of various companies which have their stores there. There were world famous brands and local brands as well. While some business cards I collected served their purpose yet some were horrible. To my utter surprise I did not find a single business which had an exceptional business card. Some had the bare minimal with inappropriate typography while some had very garish design with offensive use of colours. So I felt that there was immense scope for redesigning business cards for these businesses.
Now let us start to discuss some of the aspects of a business card.
Size and shape does matter…
The standard size of a business card is typically 3.5” by 2”. Now one might ask why such a size all of a sudden. Well this size has been arrived at after a lot of trial and error and over time. It was found that this size was the most convenient to be put in a wallet or business card holders. Definitely one might opt to deviate from this size if he wishes to but it is better to stick to the standard size because not all experiments are successful. As the size suggests the shape of a business card is rectangular but you might decide to round off the edges or round out the alternative edges. This will make a business card look off beat and make people remember your business but our suggestion would be not to combine more than one odd element into one business card.
Keep the target audience in mind
If you are designing a business card you have to always remember for whom you are designing the card. Whether it is a corporate business house or it is a painter, a photographer a lawyer, an art gallery etc. Each entity would need a separate and specific approach of design. While a corporate house or a law firm would need a very traditional and serious design approach with minimal use of colours and fonts like sans serif, an artist or a photographer should have a business card with elements of art embedded into it. On the other hand if you are designing a business card for a hospital or some kind of emergency service then you should stick to traditional design and make it legible. Legibility matters for emergency services because somebody in distress might be looking at the business card for a phone number at the dead of night in a low light scenario. You as a designer might also suggest plastic or water proof cards for a plumbing business.
Make it memorable
There should be one aspect of every card that should make it memorable. Some cards could be minimal, some could have a particularly unusual shape, or else one could use a font that is not very common. Using a custom font could also be an option. There is no hard and fast rule but it has to be kept in mind that the business card should serve its purpose. It should connect to its audience.
Use of fonts, whitespaces and colours in a business card design
While choices are many yet it is best to go with the tradition most of the time unless you want the font to be the memorable factor. Use of the sans font type goes particularly well with business card designs. Sans fonts are very legible and sober. They also look very clean and professional! But you can deviate from convention if you are designing for a particular industry which needs something more playfool e.g. a business card for a kids playschool. You could use Comic Sans or a more joyful font.
Then comes the element of colour. Colour is one of the most important aspects of business card design. While I will again emphasize on the minimal use of colours but you can definitely use more if the situation demands. Traditionally it is safe to use no more than two colours but again you can deviate for that rule if you are designing a business card for a art gallery or a kids garment store.
Colours can be used intelligently to convey dignity, authority, joyfulness, professionalism and what not. While red and orange might imply force and authority, green and yellow defines nature and earth. So we have to decide how we want colours to work for us.
Specifications for printing business cards
While we might use our imagination while designing business cards but we have to keep in mind that it has to be printed. First of all we have to proof check the card again and again before it goes to print so that there are no errors in it. There is something called the ‘printer’s devil’ so we have to be very careful. A hand corrected card looks awful and does not speak a great deal about the entity it represents. Then we have to follow the printing guidelines while we design any business card. Print houses require output in the range of 300dpi or above for optimum quality so we have to consider that. If we are using any image ( it will rarely be used in a business card design ) we have to use a 300dpi image preferably in the TIFF format. Also the colour scheme has to be set in CMYK mode which printing machines use. There has to be a bleed area and the design has to be done with cut marks on them for cutting machines. The output has to be in vector format like AI, CDR, EPS etc. Abiding by all these guidelines will make sure that the output is professional.
There are many other subtle nuances to designing a business card but it is not possible to cover everything here. If you are looking to design your own business card then it is time to get your hands dirty. We believe you can do a pretty good job armed with the information. If you are looking for a designer to designer your business card make sure you select the right person because a cheap design can spoil the image of your business. A few dollars save would actually result into a huge loss of image and consequently . . . revenue!
If you still have any doubts then post a crowdsourcing contest !
By : Priyankar Mukherjee