Design business cards. Pic by Shubham

Business cards 101

Did you know that business card design can directly impact the success of your organisation? It can make the difference between 'getting that call' and never hearing from someone again.

A business card is your brand ambassador so it makes sense to consider custom design vs. templates, print quality, size (dimensions), and so on. It's also more than a piece of paper that displays your name and contact number. It can also be a powerful marketing tool that helps potential clients, customers or partners remember you and your company better.

The right card not only works to promote your company, but should also act as a tool, offering a convenient place to jot down notes and reminders.

Card design

Up until recently, one business card looked more or less like any other - to my eyes. However, I attended an excellent talk on networking and picked up some great design points:

  • Image: A business card must contain an image of you (in the case of a home business or sole proprietorship), or your brand (for small, medium and large enterprises)
  • Clear & simple: Business card design is like Web design - people perceive it as "better" if they can find what they want quicker
  • Empty space: There must be empty space to jot down notes somewhere on the card - front or back, it doesn't matter

An image serves to associate your face with your name, or your face with your company or brand. The card can help someone remember you if it provides visual re-enforcement.

Details

Don't clutter things up with too much content. The client, customer, or acquaintance needs to know your:

  1. name
  2. company/brand
  3. position/title
  4. contact details
  5. website

Any other information a particular person needs can be jotted down in the space provided on the card - which is why leaving a clear space is an important part of the design.

Custom features

There are plenty of fancy services offering super-duper features. However, a standard card that is not laminated with a plain background (preferably white, or some other light color) is preferable.

Don't choose dark colors or laminate the card if it is going to prevent you from writing notes on it.

Leaving a clear space for writing allows you to add a note that acts as a reminder of your meeting - it's a great networking trick.

Jotting down a reminder (before sharing the card) saying, for example,"Call Dave, RE: Meta-heuristic algorithms" will remind that person of their discussion with you - in the event that it has slipped their mind by the time they see the card again.

Size also matters:

Don't choose non-standard card sizes if it will prevent it from conveniently fitting into a wallet.

Printing with MOO

Moo business card printing
Understanding what you need to put onto a card, and where you need to leave space, doesn't necessarily doom you to having to design the whole card from scratch. Many of the top printing services offer templates and easy to use online custom design forms.

Designing and ordering business cards online, and having them printed and delivered overnight is the quickest and easiest way to get hold of new ones.

MOO can also help you to design your own, cheap business cards online. But, just in case you need a bit more inspiration, here are a bunch of cool ideas we found online.

Creative business card ideas

Business cards don't have to be plain and boring. To help you come up with some ideas that are out of the box, we've ranked our favorite business card design and ideas - in order from most conservative to most creative/unique/outrageous.

Depending on your taste there should be a design idea to fit your requirements perfectly. Hopefully, you'll be able to use these ideas to inspire your own creative card designs. If you come up with something fantastic, share it in the comments to inspire others.

1. All about the industry

Business card with sold sign
Nothing builds confidence in your expertise like a card that has been thoughtfully designed to show off your knowledge and expertise in a given niche. For example, an SEO or marketing agency might make their cards look like the top result in Google search.

A salesperson might design their cards to look like a sales tag, or for sale sign (with SOLD emblazoned across it). In either case, the card says something extra about what you can do for potential clients and customers, above and beyond your name and contact details.

It's a nice, subtle way to give people a clue about what you do.

2. Use unusual materials

Metal business card
Who said a card had to be made from paper? Why not have them made out of wood, or brushed aluminum? Depending on what industry you are in, a non-standard material may leave a lasting impression. For example, a flooring company may print on, or engrave, standard size veneers of wood.

Remember that using different materials creates different opportunities to be creative.

Selling household products? Why not make a card out of compressed absorbent kitchen towel? Your details might be lost when a client cleans up spilled milk, but they'll probably remember you because of it.

3. Go green

Business card made from recycled material
Let's face it, business cards, like all marketing or advertising materials end up, primarily, on the dump. But just because a card has outlived its usefulness, doesn't mean it can't be good for the environment.

Have your cards printed from recycled paper, complete with embedded flower or vegetable seeds. As the card decomposes it provides nutrients for the seedlings - perfect for farmers, nurseries, gardening services, and just about anyone in the agricultural sector.

Think about what you can do to become an environmental champion in your own niche. Come up with clever ideas that say something about you, and help keep earth clean.

4. Offer a treat

Candy wrapper business card
If you've ever watched Big Bang Theory, you'll know that Sheldon once attempted to "train" Penny by offering her a chocolate treat every time she did something he deemed correct.

Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing - even if it sounds like we humans shouldn't really fall for it. Why not associate your brand with something good, by using the card as packaging for a mini-treat, like a biscuit or chocolate.

Handing out a card with someone's favorite sweet inside will make a far greater impact on them than the other ten cards they were handed previously. This idea will work great as a marketing tool at conventions and exhibitions where people are expecting (and looking for) engaging and memorable brands.

5. Free giveaways

Business card with mystery QR code prize
How hard have you found it to get people to sign up to your website, or run a trial version of your software or service? Why not integrate with a freebie? Anyone you hand a business card is entitled to a special deal that is not available anywhere else.

It doesn't have to be a freebie from your own company either. Create demand for your cards by offering mystery prizes - potential clients and customers can sign up to your website and enter the unique code printed on their card to receive a prize.

Prizes can be anything. Gifts from Amazon. Cheap, fun, expensive, whatever you want. Create custom giveaways for custom events. Offer one major jackpot giveaway, like a weekend vacation, for anyone who takes your card.

Integrating business cards, with website registrations and sign-ups is also a great way to capture leads at the same time.

Those are my top five most creative ideas that build your brand through business cards. Hopefully, they will inspire you to come up with some great ideas that turn your cards into pure marketing and networking gold.

Do you use business cards for networking and marketing purposes? What design tricks and tips do you use to get more value from your cards? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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