Of the 27,397,260 business card printed every day, 88% will be thrown out in less than a week. But that doesn’t happen because business cards are ineffective as a marketing medium. In fact, it only takes 2,000 business card to increase a company’s sales by nearly 3%. That’s a shockingly high return for just one marketing resource. So why do so many cards end up in the garbage?
The fact is, a lot of business cards have crummy designs. No one wants to hold on to something that looks and feels cheap—at least, not for very long. And that means the person whose name is on that card isn’t getting their money’s worth.
But as a designer, you have the power to create an exceptionally unique business card that recipients will hold onto for months (or even years!) Of course, most cards look so much alike, it’s easy to get stuck in a creative rut. You’ll need to break out of the box, which is why we’ve made this step-by-step guide to help you design the perfect business card.
To have a quick and easy reference point, download this super helpful graphic so you can have these guidelines nearby while you work.
10 Tips To Design The Perfect Business Card
It’s best to start with a little research so you know what to put on the business card. Talk to your client about their goals and fill out a creative brief. Then, collect templates or real business cards to use for inspiration—you’ll find plenty of online design galleries, like Behance—and examine each one. Which concepts might help you meet your design goals? Which ones won’t?
Before you adopt an idea that you like, think about the rules of design that made it work. A black background looks sophisticated for a lawyer, but for a baker, black is more likely to remind patrons of overcooked pastries. Any idea that won’t meet your client’s needs isn’t worth putting on their business card.
Choose contact information
Once you have a basic concept, set it aside. You need to finalize the card’s message first—starting with contact info. Choosing the right information can be a real challenge because people connect in so many ways. The secret is to learn how your target audience likes to communicate and connect on their level.
Name and title
It’s sad to think that some people actually use business cards with no name anywhere. No-name cards are pretty much useless because prospects want to connect with an actual person, not some anonymous “contact.” A name and job title let people know who your client is and what they do.
You can even spice titles up to make them more unique, so long as you avoid industry jargon and clichés—while you’re at it, go ahead and remove “ninja,” “guru,” and “rock star” from your vocabulary. Something simple like “Lawn Artist” in place of “Landscaper” can do the trick.
Company name and logo
Prospects need to trust not only the cardholder, but the brand the cardholder represents. That’s simple enough if your client is self-employed. When your client works for a company, you can help establish brand trust by emphasizing the business’s name and logo.
Phone numbers are extremely important. Believe it or not, some people still prefer talking on the phone because it’s more personal than a website and less likely to be misinterpreted than an email.
If you’re dealing with multiple numbers, be sure to label which number is which. You’ll also probably want to avoid including any personal, non-business numbers (unless the client’s friends and family are the target audience).
Email and URL
Most people pair email and web addresses together. That way, prospects can either contact your client directly or explore their website on their own.
As with phone numbers, only use your client’s professional email address, not a personal address that they only use with friends and family, so the card doesn’t come across as too casual.
You may want to link to a blog, video, or about page that “introduces” prospects to your client. Just make sure the URL isn’t too complicated. You can use a custom URL shortener like Bitly to make the address easy to read and remember.
It’s a good rule of thumb to only promote the social media presence that’s most relevant to your client’s brand. Choosing which social profile to include is a complicated process, so be sure to consider the nature of your client’s business. If they’re a no-nonsense stockbroker, Instagram probably isn’t the best choice.
You’ll also want to avoid these common mistakes when including social media in print designs.
Would you wear a parka in the Bahamas? Of course not. It’s unnecessary and bulky—just like a physical address on a card for someone who only works online. When your client has a strong web presence, you can skip the address to save space. Only include it when your client relies on in-store visitors.
Suppose your client does need an address after all. Instead of worrying about how much space it’s occupying, why not go all out and put a map on the back of the card? This is simple enough to do with Google Maps, so long as you include a copyright attribution. You can also create a map from scratch in Illustrator, which is useful for controlling the amount of detail it includes.
Add supportive text
Contact info is the main part of a business card’s message, but a card that only informs people how to contact you isn’t very compelling. Your next step is telling the audience why they should contact your client. That usually means a tagline or a call to action.
Taglines are an easy way to instantly inform people about who your clients is and what they do, like a clarifier. For instance, the owners of a bakery with a generic name like Sarah’s might use a tagline like “The Friendliest Bakery in Town” to set themselves apart.
A call to action, on the other hand, is a command. It gives prospects a clear next step, like “Call and get a free quote!” or “Visit our website!” Your call to action might even be in the form of a promotional offer, allowing customers to take the card to your client’s store and redeem it for discounts or free samples (with your client’s permission, of course). Only include one call to action, though; consumers respond best when they’re given just one thing to do.