A business card may be an old trope but business schools still teach the students how to properly hand over a business card. Heck, I didn’t know there were set rules about how to hand over a card until a friend of mine informed me about it. Like, what hand you have to use to hand the card over and what pocket to put the card in to. That just shows that businesses take business cards really seriously. But why?
Well even though social media is nice and showcases a lot of your talent and skill it can be overwhelming for someone that just wants some basic information about you or your business. A business card is also a lot more personal. You hand the card over to a potential client face to face and that’s a lot more important than people give credit to. That’s not saying that social media and websites aren’t important. In this day and age you can’t really have a business without them but a more personal contact will get in more clients.
So, what constitutes for a good business card? For the most part I’d say you have to keep it simple and at the same time make it stand out. There are a lot of businesses out there that put WAY to much information on their cards. So what should you put on the card?
Keep in mind this is not a CV. It’s a business card and the main focus should be put on the occupation and contact information. It’s also very important to know what information should take top billing. If you are a freelancer your name is what should stand out the most. If you work in a corporation or for a brand the name or logo of that corporation or brand takes billing over your own name.
Also by any means avoid using stock images and clipart or even worse design your business card online. That just screams out: “I’m unprofessional and too cheap to invest in a good business card.” The best way to explain it is to showcase some of the good and bad business cards I’ve found online and explain why they’re good or bad.
First the good:
The foreground colors really pop out against the black background color even though they are not really that bright. The colors are also nicely balanced, mixing cold and warm colors. You’ll notice that the real occupations are bigger and stand out more than the other, especially the “writer” since it’s the only one in yellow and in the center. That is obviously the main occupation. Some of the occupations are used more for humorous effect than actual skills but that just shows that the person is quirky and has a sense of humor, something potential clients may like. The front of the card incorporates the name Genie in a bottle in to it’s design.
This is one of the more creative ones I’ve found and as an illustrator I really like it. German Torres is an illustrator and wanted to showcase his talent and incorporated it in to a really creative design. His portrait in illustrated form transforms in to a ware wolf across four cards almost making them in to trading cards of sort. The design is simple, clean and shows just enough. Even his occupation is stated as “wild illustrator” which only compliments the theme of the cards.
This one is a good example of how less is more. Paolo Pettigiani keeps a very sleek, clean and elegant design that incorporates only what it really needs. A logo is in the front, the occupation and contact information in the back. What really makes the card stand out is the fact that the sides are painted in the same color as the logo. That plays well with the negative space on the card and creates something that will stand out even with its minimalist design.
I decided to show this one to segue in to the post I’ll put up next week. When is it a good idea to challenge convention and give your card a more dynamic look and even an alternative use or shape. More on that in my next blog but concerning this card you’ll notice the design is very slick as expected from a company that designs digital products. But what I wanted to point out isn’t so much the color and text placement but the little hole that makes the card sort of interactive.
By placing a finger through the hole it creates the look of a string tied around your finger (like your mother used to do when you were a kid) so you won’t forget. That’s a great idea. You probably won’t be sticking your finger in the card every time you’ll read it but as concept that is enough to make the card stand out and you’ll actually remember the company.
Then the bad:
I’ll be honest I’m not sure if this is suppose to be a joke or made on purpose. The card is all over the place. The picture is terrible, and it’s overlapping with the text. Nothing is placed, aligned or spaced as it should be and it’s very unbalanced. It uses an abundance of colors but they are not as well utilized as in Genie Alisa’s business card. The text size doesn’t make clear what information is more important and it’s even cut of at certain spots.
This one is an example how you REALLY need to plan out a business card well. The layout needs to make sense and the information needs to be logically arranged and sized. It’s obvious the person that designed this wanted everything to be centered so he started arranging everything left and right. While on first instinct you’d think that would work. It really doesn’t because the main information splits everything else apart. You have to scan the card left and right just to get one part of the information. It’s also too overcrowded. The use of stock images doesn’t really help the card either. They look too generic.
While the last one didn’t have the text laid out very well, this one is even worse. Nothing is aligned and the e-mail address is rotated at a 90° angle. So to clearly read the text you would need to turn the card around. Text with information should always be facing the same direction. The phone number is just floating at random and there are too many different fonts used. On a side note I really don’t get why a wolf represents application developers.
As you can see, designing a business card isn’t as simple as using a template and just filling in the information. A business card designed like that is generic and won’t attract anyone. A card is a very important impression you are going to make. Believe me it will either make or break a deal. If you are designing a business card take your time with it and plan it carefully. A good idea would be to print out a copy or two at home. Show it to your friends to get some feedback. If you are a designer and your friends don’t know the company you are designing a card for, that’s even better. If you are not a designer… Hire someone to make you a business card. It’s an investment you won’t regret.