Many people overlook the value of having a professional business card that accurately reflects your brand image, yet this small piece of paper can be an important part of your collateral package. It’s often the first item prospects receive from you. The preponderance of do-it-yourself online business card printing companies is an interesting and somewhat troubling phenomenon. With limited exceptions, it’s fairly easy to spot an inexpensively produced card. When you choose to “go cheap” on your business cards, what message does that send to those with whom you wish to do business? Are you really doing yourself any favors by missing out on the opportunity to start building a positive brand image right from the start? Cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to first impressions. Give clients a great first impression with these tips and tactics:

Tip #1: Enlist the help of a professional designer

Enlist the help of a professional designer, unless you have the requisite skills to design your business card yourself. Ideally, this person is also tasked with designing your other collateral (letterhead, brochures, website, etc.) as it’s important to carry your brand image through from those pieces to your card.

Tip #2: Keep it simple

Business cards are typically just 3.5″ x 2″, so you don’t have too much space with which to work. Don’t make your logo too large, don’t make the type too small to be comfortably read, and don’t be afraid to use white space.

Tip #3: Keep to the standard business card size

Keep to the standard business card size — unless you’re the adventurous type. There are things you can do to a 3.5″ x 2″ card to differentiate yourself (e.g., rounded corners), but going with an unusual shape can be tricky. A round card, for instance, is quite memorable, but it certainly won’t fit in standard business-card holder devices. You must be willing to trade convenience for memorability if you choose an unconventional shape or size.

Tip #4: Be deliberate in choosing the information to appear on your card

What’s most important? Your name, name of your company (via your logo or both), your phone and fax number, and your email address. Space permitting and if desired, you may want to list your physical address, cellphone number, and company website. Don’t clutter things up too much–as with the design, simpler and cleaner is always better and less confusing.

Tip #5: Keep the back blank, or use it for non-critical information

How often will people see the back of your business card? Traditional card storage modes assume that side is blank. If you do wish to put copy on it, be sure the information is of a supplemental nature: e.g., your company’s mission or tag line. While business cards should promote your brand identity, they shouldn’t be confused with advertising.

Tip #6: Cost is a balance

Cost for a business card is money well spent, talk to your printing professional on your end product versus cost then go to design eg: one or two colour versed full colour, Quantity, the more you purchase the average is in increments of 500 but at some point there is a limit of where to stop, a good rule of thumb in printing is what you may need for 6 months to a year but if you’re just starting out keep it low as you may want to make some minor changes in the near future and you don’t want to be left with a larger quantity then you would like.

Tip #7: Paper

There are many variety of paper out there. Some questions that should be answered before choosing is what is the use, example real estate, Accounting or “business” type usage typically nowadays most will go with a coated paper but if you may be in a positions where a note of some type may be needed, like contractors, to give appointment times, use an uncoated paper so that it is easier to write on and the potential of the ink from a pen won’t potentially come off and ruin a customer’s shirt and yes you can get coated on one side to accomplish your needs. Thickness is another question that is needed. The average is .12 for coated and 80lb for uncoated but now days .14 is becoming more common and .13, .16, .18 up to now .32 don’t forget what is the use of the card and as you get thicker is now becomes an issue on carrying and storing not only your cards that you want to hand out but for you and your customer to keep this pile of card for the future reference, environmentally (enviro), coloured paper, paper with texture linen or laid and the list goes on. Some key factors is cost and what the printer is using as an in house stock ask and listen the your commercial printer on what might be best for you and then make an informed decision.

The Bottom Line

Think about how you use other people’s business cards when you make decisions regarding your own. Do you get frustrated when you can’t quickly find the information you need? Or the type is too small to read? Or printed in a font that’s hard to decipher? Do cheaply produced cards make you think less of the person or company represented like the ones you can make at home after you tear them apart and you get the little ridges on the edge? Does it take you a while to realize whose card it is, or what company that person works for?
Don’t make those same mistakes when designing your business card. Make sure it’s a positive reflection of both you and your company, and it mirrors your well-defined brand identity.