The Fundamentals of Business Card Design

As the internet has continued to grow and evolve, it has replaced a variety of day-to-day routines. Instead of reading a newspaper, we might read a number of articles online. Instead of turning on the television, we might stream a show through our phones. Even the communication we were once required to do in person can be done over Skype or FaceTime. However, there are a few things that have survived this digital revolution – a few routines which refuse to be replaced. The exchange of business cards is such a routine. Because of the continued relevance of business cards, we have decided to review the fundamentals of business card design in a world where technology and connection are key.

Broke Bike Alley Business card, designed by Rethink, Canada

First Things First: Deciding on the Concept

There are many variables to consider when designing and printing a business card, but none so important as the main concept of your business card design. It no longer needs to fit an 85 x 55 mm standard size. In fact, the more outrageous your business card is, the better people are going to remember it. Because of this, it is essential to understand right away which style you want: traditional or unconventional. If the goal of your business card is to be memorable and full of creative expression, you may want an out-of-the-box concept. In this case, begin by letting your imagination fly. (If you have trouble getting your inspiration on, check out our article on 101 ways to boost creativity.)

Alternatively, if you want a business card that serves as a simple shortcut to contact you, then a more or less traditional approach will work just as well.

pH Business Card. Image credit: Schwimmer Pool Service.

pH Business Card. Image credit: Schwimmer Pool Service.

Paper Quality Matters

Even if you desire a standard business card, attention to detail can ensure your business card stands out from the stack. Imagine you go to a bookstore. As expected, you are greeted by a wide variety of books, and you probably aren’t looking to read a chapter or two of each book you come across. Your goal is to make a choice in a timely fashion. Unless you’ve read a book review or you’re relying on a recommendation, you may not know what which book to choose. Books with eye-catching covers that feel pleasant in the hand will attract your attention. The moral of the story?

Never save money at the expense of paper quality. You are looking to impress others by activating all of their senses, from visual to tactile. Looking to go further? Why not use nicely coated matte paper for an extra luxurious feel? Depending on your budget, there are numerous options at your disposal.

Mylene Poisson, sommelier.

Select a Proper Color Scheme

Colors are one of the most important factors in business card design. With so many options available, you not only want to select complementary hues, but you also want colors that resonate with your business. Most importantly, you want your selection to represent your desired message.

Have you noticed jewelry stores tend to go for a mix of black and gold? These combination gives a feel of luxury. Similarly, food-processing companies love combining white with green. How else to show purity and eco-friendliness?

If you’re looking for your perfect colors, there is a range of online tools built to help you create effective color schemes. COLOURlovers is our favorite. It’s a designer community where you can create color palettes and ask people to vote or comment.

Filmmaker Martin Hong’s business card, designed by Warren Tey

Make it Legible

Typography also proves essential in business card design; it’s frustrating when a business card has impossibly small type. No one wants a card they can’t read. Make sure people don’t have to strain eyes to decipher the writing. The information on the card should be an optimal size and shape for effortless readability. Otherwise, the whole point of exchanging business cards is lost.

Embossing or letter pressing will also add a special touch to your card.

Content is King…Even on Your Business Card

Why choose to invest your time and money on preparing a business card? You are working to deliver a message. Unless your business card contains this message, it’s a waste of resources. Thus, make sure your business card tells your full name, what you do, and your contact info (website, phone number, and email address).

You could go a step further by using digital technology in your business card. You can do this by adding a QR to send people directly to your website, digital portfolio, or virtually any other landing page. Luckily, there are many free QR generators online to help you with this.

Business card design with a QR code

Let Your Business Card Speak for Itself

Oftentimes, a business card will describe the business through layout alone, and believe us, people notice. If your mission is to sound creative, you should depict it through your business card. (i.e. Are you preparing a card for an event organization agency? The card could take the form of a concert ticket.) You may have even seen travel agencies that use postcards as their business cards.

Making a personal card? Your card could be a canvas or a Polaroid; artistic professions allow fully ignited imaginations. Just make sure your business card will have a lasting impression.

Make Use of It. Literally.

While staying within the standard, you can use materials other than paper for your business card. Plastics, metals, and wood are just a few of the resources professionals are using to individualize cards. These materials are not only visually appealing, but they also feel unique to those who receive them. In the event you opt for a non-paper material, make sure your card is easily carried in a pocket or briefcase. You may even consider a die-cut design to provide your card with an attention-grabbing effect.

Depending on your business, you may want to give your card a practical use – yet another way to ensure your card’s popularity. 

So, Where Do I Go Next?

Even the most creative of business cards are useless without the proper clientele. Attend local networking events, make connections, and don’t forget a firm handshake. In-person meetings are a tried-and-true method for those in search of work.

To sum up, business cards have a huge potential to win new businesses. All you have to do is ensure it gives a memorable and visually impressive feel.

Start Your Own Freelance Business!

Learn how I went from a corporate employee to owning my own freelance business and blog. Sign up for my email newsletter and get a FREE copy of my Ebook plus a coupon for 10% off your first billing cycle on any Vandelay Premier plan!

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads.