Thursday, January 8, 2009
Here are a few pointers on business card design and content. It's not an exhaustive list, just some things to keep in mind when you order new business cards.
Cheap business cards are a scam. They tend to be printed with low grade ink on flimsy thin card stock. You need to present yourself as a professional or competent person. Don't buy business cards that are cheap and have the printing company's name on the back of them.
(1) Layout: landscape vs. portrait.
Be sure to specify horizontal (landscape) vs. vertical (portrait) layout. The most common is horizontal, so I recommend following this standard. It will be easier to deal with your card when it faces the same direction as the vast majority of other cards.
(2) PDF to printer.
After you create the text and image for your business card, make a PDF of the file and send that as an email attachment to the printer. This will save you a "set up" charge.
(3) Front of Card Content: include all that's applicable from the list below...
* corporate logo
* personal photo (smile, appropriate dress)
* photo of, or illustration that symbolizes, what you sell or provide
* full name
* your title, slogan, tagline or a descriptive sentence about what you do
* company name
* street address
* land line phone number
* mobile phone number
* fax number
* email address
* LinkedIn URL
* Facebook URL
* blog URL
* website URL
I don't think you should jam too much information or too many images on a business card. Simple and clean is better than complex and confusing. Listing the 15 types of construction you do is probably overkill. List a few general areas, or specialty niches, and leave it at that.
An exception might be businesses where customers have trouble understanding what your specific skill or service is, or where you need to clear up common misperceptions, or need to clarify and differentiate yourself from other specialties.
Use multiple titles if necessary, don't think you have to sum up your skills in just one title.
For example, I recently decided to give myself three (3) title on my latest business card:
* Internet Marketing Specialist
* Web Content Developer
* Blog Strategist
UPDATE (Nov. 2009) -
For revised business cards,
I changed this list to:
* Business Writer
* Web Content Developer
* Social Media Strategist
(4) Back of Card Content.
Adding content to the back of a business card, or having it fold out for extra content panels, seems desperate, overly verbose, too self-impressed, even condescending. You can flesh out the details over the phone or in a meeting. A business card should not be an advertisement or a book.
Its function is to serve as a quick, reliable source of contact information.
There surely exist exceptions to this guideline, but if you're looking for a job or clients, this is probably best. Like I said, you can always deliver a brochure, samples, list of clients, etc. at some future date.
Think: how do my recipients tend to use business cards?
Your personal impression on, and contact with, the recipient should be what enhances the magnetic pull of your business card.
(5) Card Stock.
White or light gray is most professional, but it depends on the business. A feminine enterprise could use a pink or yellow card. Marketing people and consultants should stick to standard colors. Use corporate colors if you have them. A good, study card stock is better than a cheap, thin, flimsy stock.
Keep your business card the normal size, so it will fit in with other business cards and appear professional.
I've received over-sized cards that I had to fold to fit in my wallet, and under-sized cards that I didn't know what to do with. Stand out from the pack by how you present yourself, but within the standard formats.
(6) Correct Centering.
Cheap, quick, down and dirty business cards may be hastily cut in irregular croppings. This means that your margins may not be equal: you may be close to the bottom edge, but have too much space at the top, same with left and right edges.
(7) Purpose of Business Card.
You give people your business card so they have contact information, along with a quick indication of what you do or what your business is.
Try not to make your business card do the work of a brochure. It will look amateurishly cluttered if you're not careful.
You should have one primary, flagship, central website or blog that displays your products, samples of your work, or showcases your expertise. Link to your other sites, if appropriate, from that primary site.
If you're a marketing consultant, and you have several sites, each dedicated to different types or aspects of marketing, you may want to include all those URLs. Make sure that the URLs you list are sites you're proud of and are not "under construction".
(8) Type Font.
I suggest a sans seriff type font, such as Verdana or Arial. It's easier to read in the small space of a business card. Use a simple, standard, extremely easy to read type font.
Trying to be creative with a fancy type font can backfire and reduce readability.
Every tiny detail of how you present yourself, even in a humble business card, can have a large and lasting impact.
It's nice to include a tagline, slogan, motto, or quote to make yourself memorable and to briefly convey what you do.
Don't use stupid, extreme, or trite (over-used) phrases like "Best deals in the business", "Make your wildest dreams come true", "Nobody offers better quality, service, and selection", "We solve all your computer problems within 15 seconds", and etc.
Business card best practices (by Robert Scoble)
10 Tips in Designing Effective Business Cards
9 Business Card Blunders