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How to design a business card: 13 golden rules

Satin Graphic
Satin Graphic

Are business cards dead? Depends on who you ask. For some, it’s an outdated method of networking, while others find it essential to making a good impression on prospective connections.

Plus, you never know when you’ll come across a potential customer, so having one on hand never hurts.   Your business card is a marketing tool. And just like with any marketing collateral, it requires careful consideration and deliberate design. To maximize their value, it’s essential to create a business card that’s memorable and stands out from the crowd.

13 Tips for Designing a Business Card

1. Choose the right size  A business card should be large enough to see its contents but small enough to fit into your pocket or wallet. The standard size is 3.5” x 2”, but you could opt for something a little larger to fit more information, or something smaller that includes links to online portfolios or profiles.

2. Use your brand’s color scheme Some prefer all-white business cards, while others lean toward eye-catching colors. However, don’t overlook using your brand’s color scheme, which can help spread brand awareness to potential clients.  When you make significant brand changes, make sure to update your business card.  If you’re not set on a color scheme, then learn about the psychology of colors to see which represents your brand’s image.

3. Include your business’s logo Including your company’s logo is another way to create brand awareness. The more times a customer sees your logo, business name, and other company references, the more likely they are to remember it.  Consider adding it in one corner of the card or in the center, depending on the logo’s shape and size. The goal is to make it visible without taking up too much space for important information (e.g., business name, number, services).

4. Include all of your contact details Aside from your name and number, include other forms of contact, such as your email address, website URL, and social media handles.  If you’re a local business, add your company address in case prospects prefer to stop by.

5. Select quality materials  Cheap paper or flimsy cardstock can make your card look unprofessional so choose a thicker cardstock that gives a premium feel. You can also opt for different ink options, such as metallic, acrylic, or raised ink, for something more unique.  Wieger Waardenburg, managing partner at digital marketing agency Fris Online, chose a quality material and spot varnish on the ink to give his card a glossy look while keeping the background matte.

The vertical orientation also makes it stand out since horizontal layouts are more common.

Satin Graphic
Satin Graphic

6. Don’t forget a call to action A business card should urge people to reach out to you, so include a call to action to ensure prospects take the next step.  For example, your CTA could be, “Call us today” or “Visit our website for more details,” or “Request a free demo.” 

7. Keep it simple People receive business cards throughout the year from all kinds of businesses and professionals. While it’s tempting to use eye-popping colors and designs to make your card stand out, this isn’t always necessary or helpful.  If your business is unique or offers a quality service, odds are the person will keep your business card around. Instead of worrying about an exotic color scheme, opt for something simple that includes all the essential information needed to buy your product or service (e.g., name, logo, number).

8. Use quality printing There are two options for printing business cards: doing it yourself or using a design service. If you go the DIY route, you’ll need a quality printer and ink to ensure it looks professional. Look for the latest printers from popular brands like Epson and HP.  Otherwise, use a design company, which can provide you with multiple designs, cardstock, and ink to choose from. 

9. Proofread before you print Before printing your business cards, proofread to ensure there are no typos or mistakes. Double-check that the contact information is accurate and up-to-date, and that the logo, taglines, and colors convey your brand accurately.

10. Add a QR code Adding a QR code to your business card makes it easier for people to contact you. Have it link to your number or a landing page on your website; some use it for coupon codes to encourage prospects to become customers.  Your call to action could say something like, “Scan the QR code for a discount!” 

11. Choose a legible font A >business card design is about more than logos and colors. The typeface you choose can also be the difference between getting a call and having the card tossed in the trash.  Selecting a font that’s difficult to read will guarantee the latter. So opt for something readable like Arial or Helvetica. If your brand’s typeface is similar and legible, then go with that. 

12. Place your headshot on the card Adding a headshot to your business card adds a personal touch and makes it memorable. It can even help prospects recognize you in person or on social media platforms.

13. Choose eco-friendly materials Have a mission to save the world? Then back it up with everything your business does, including your business card. Select eco-friendly materials, such as bamboo and vegetable-based ink.  Showcasing your company’s commitment to sustainability can help attract similarly minded customers.

Satin Graphic
Satin Graphic

How To Make a Business Card Stand Out

You don’t want your card to be lost among stacks of white cards. Here are a few tips to make your business card more noticeable.

  • Include testimonials: Adding a line from a customer review or testimonials offers proof that you’re a professional worth calling. Consider placing it at the top or bottom of the card.

  • Give it some texture: Matte or glossy finishes aren’t your only options. You could try textured designs, such as raised ink, to make words and shapes pop out (literally).

  • Use a unique shape or size: Instead of sticking to the standard shape and size (3.5” x 2”), try changing the shape to a circle, star, or square.

Another option is to use laser-cut letters and designs. Yoel Israel, CEO of marketing agency WadiDigital, went with a wooden material, over typical metal, with laser-cut letters.

How To Design a Business Card for Free

Don’t want to dish out hundreds of dollars for a design agency to create your card? Do it yourself using free software that offers business card templates.

Here are a few options:

Canva offers a free plan you can use to create professional-looking business cards. It offers a variety of templates and customization tools, as well as the ability to upload images and logos.

Visme is an online graphic design tool that allows members to create business cards using dozens of templates. You can also design from scratch, then download it in JPG format.

Adobe Express comes with templates, design assets, and royalty-free photos you can use to create business cards. You can download your design as a PDF, PNG, or JPG.

Jukebox is an online business card maker with various templates and customization options. You can print directly from the site (no sign-up needed), or save your design as a PDF or JPG file for later use.

Business Card Maker is an easy-to-use online tool for creating professional-looking cards and offers pre-made color schemes. You can download the final version as a PDF or JPG.

VistaCreate is a free graphic design tool that allows you to create custom cards with its drag-and-drop editor and library of templates and graphics. You can upload images and logos, and print directly from the site or save your design as a PDF file.

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