5 Tips for Creating a Stunning Business Card Design
No matter what kind of business/organisation you run, having a well-designed business card is critically important to your success.
Your business card will often serve as an introduction to your business, and therefore, will be the first thing that potential clients see in regards to you and your company.
They’ll likely see your business card before they see your website, your brochure, your leaflet, or just about any other branded material you might happen to have; yet still, a large percentage of companies choose not to invest in a high quality business card design.
This is crazy. But often, there’s a simple reason for this: it’s hard to know what makes a stunning business card in the first place.
If this is the case for you, then fear no longer, as we’ve created a list of five top business card design tips to get you on your feet. They’re simple, easy to follow, and best of all, easy to implement.
Here you go:
Create a Clear Design Hierarchy
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of any business card is a sense of hierarchy within the design.
But what exactly does this mean? Well, it’s really nothing more than a fancy way of saying, “put more emphasis on the most important points, and less emphasis on the least important”.
You can see a good example of this above (the Dot Design business card). You’ll notice that despite the use of the same typeface throughout, the designer has used a large (ish) bold typeface for the person’s name (Gareth Coxon), whereas the job title (Creative Director) is written in the same sized font, but with a regular font weight.
You’ll notice that this sense of hierarchy continues, with the phone number, mobile number, email address, website URL, and twitter handle all being featured in a regular weighted smaller font size.
This is a simple and elegant way of giving more precedence to the most important information (and least precedence to the least important).
It doesn’t always have to be this obvious though. For example, this business card (Form Feel & Function) uses the same font weight for much of the text, but there is subtle hierarchy in the order of the information (i.e. name first, then job title, then telephone information, and so forth).
Strangely, not everyone does this, and you’ll often see business cards that make use of the same font weight, size and type throughout, giving no sense of which information is important and which isn’t.
One example of this is above. You’ll notice that initially, the white font colour is used for less important information (i.e. the “an obsessive men’s denim store” subheading), but then further down the card, it’s used for extremely important information such as the person’s name and company website URL.
The problem is that the white text stands out much less than the black text, despite its larger size. It’s also hard to read when compared to the black text.
Make the Business Card an Extension of Yourself (or Your Brand)
Another extremely important aspect of business card design is to ensure that the business card itself as an extension of yourself (or your brand, if your company is particularly large and has many employees).
Your business card will often be the first branded marketing material that potential customers/clients see, so it’s important that it gives them a sense of what you/your company are all about.
Here’s a good example:
To those with a love for more “flamboyant” design, this might look like a relatively dull and boring business card, but it certainly has a sense of class, luxuriousness, and simplicity. It’s also extremely well designed and professional.
It’s the type of business card that appeals to a certain person and therefore, a certain type of client/customer.
What’s more, it gives a great insight into the brand itself. When you look at this business card, can imagine a team of highly skilled designers, all of whom have a professional work ethic and a passion for minimalism and simplicity.
That’s just the impression it gives, and this is intentional.
It also fits in with the rest of their branded marketing materials by using the same typography, colours, styling, etc. (see above).
Similarly, this business card gives a completely different impression and gives insight into their particular brand.
From this card, you get the sense of a fun, down-to-earth brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You get the impression that the owner would be fun to talk to, and likely wouldn’t use big complicated words if he didn’t need to.
It’s also slightly less pretentious than the previous business card.
The bottom line is that your business card should give your customers an insight into your brand by using consistent typography, colours, copy, and overall, giving an impression of the values/traits your company brand has.
Highlight Important Points (with Special Finishes)
Although you’ve already got the basics of your business card design covered (by creating a sense of hierarchy), you can take this even further by highlighting important points even further.
You can use a variety of techniques to do this, but two of the most common are spot UV printing, and the letterpress technique.
Spot UV printing is pretty straightforward: it essentially allows you to highlight certain aspects of your business card using a glossy varnish. It’s a subtle technique and it looks stunning when used wisely.
Here’s an example of spot UV in action:
You can see that it’s used here to subtly draw attention to the logo (which is black text on a black background), as well as the contact information on the back of the card.
It’s extremely subtle, which is what makes spot UV printing so powerful.
Another technique is to make use of a printing process called letterpress printing. This essentially indents patterns/lettering into your card to create a unique and subtle design.
Here’s an example:
You can see that there is a subtle repeated design pattern etched into the card; the word “photographer” is also written using this technique.
When used wisely (like this), the letterpress technique is a subtle way to attract attention.
So, not only do both of these techniques add to the sense of hierarchy, but they also give your business card an edge over the competition in terms of the design aesthetic, as most of your competitors likely haven’t put as much thought into the presentation of their brand as you have.
Stick to 2-3 Colours (Maximum!)
This is a really straightforward and simple point that you’ve likely seen reiterated hundreds of times across the web, but still, a lot of people don’t stick to it.
If you look at any of the business cards featured so far in this post, you’ll notice that all of them adhere to this rule: none of them use more than 2-3 colours, maximum.
Why? Because utilising any more colours will usually result in a cluttered and confusing design.
Here’s an example:
Now, there’s clearly a lot wrong with this business card (typography, image choices, etc.) but colour is one of the largest issues. There must be at least 5-6 completely different colours in use here and as you can see, it doesn’t look great.
So, stick to 2-3 colours, and not just any 2-3 colours either, but the colours that your brand is known for, like this brand has done:
If you were Facebook, this would be black, blue and white; if you were Apple, well, it would probably just be black and white. If you were you? Well, you are you, so figure it out!
Avoid Using Borders
Last but not least, we want to leave you with an exceptionally simple but often overlooked design tip: try to avoid using borders.
Now, this might sound a bit weird, but let us explain:
When your business card gets printed, it’s printed with something called bleed and trim areas (shown above).
As the image quite rightly demonstrates, the trim line is where your business card will get trimmed after the printing process. So, anything outside of this line will be physically cut off.
But, this isn’t always 100% accurate (which is why you have a bleed area, to ensure that no “important” information is accidentally trimmed off).
So, if you have a border on your business card, it might end up slightly uneven on each side after the trimming process.
To demonstrate this, here’s how Sarah (from Sarah Yost Design) had envisioned her business cards to look:
And here’s how they actually looked when she received them:
Not great, right?
This is all because of the issue with the trimming process and the borders.
If you really do want to use borders in your business card design, it would be best to have a chat with your chosen printing company, and ask for a guarantee that the cards will be produced how you want them (or your money back?).