In business, first impressions are everything. Whether you’re at a trade show or networking event, your business card is often the first piece of collateral you share with prospective customers. A business card can be included in a presentation folder or business correspondence. It can also serve as camera-ready art in local business publications. Even in the digital age, they serve a unique and often valuable purpose.
So it’s crucially important that your business card clearly identifies you and your business, looks visually appealing and stands out from the competition. Here are suggestions for making all this happen on a 3.5 x 2 inch-sized piece of high gloss card stock.
Use type that’s clutter-free. Considering the limited available space, design experts advise not having more than two font types. Though it’s tempting to use flowery or elaborate fonts in an effort to differentiate yourself from everyone else, resist the impulse. Fussy type is often difficult to read and gives an impression of clutter. (There are still many readable, professional-looking fonts to choose from.) One more thing: font sizes must be large enough to be easily seen by people with varying degrees of eyesight.
Include all essential information. By “essential,” we primarily mean contact information:
• Your name and title (if appropriate)
• Your company name
• Website address
• Email address
• Telephone number
Another essential element-particularly if what you make or offer isn’t immediately clear by the name of your business-is a one-line slogan. This can be a phrase or a complete sentence, as long as it accurately describes your business and it’s memorable.
Add your logo. A professionally designed logo is a key part of your brand and should always be included. If you’re in the process of having a logo created, make sure it’s scalable for use on all of your marketing materials, from business card to letterhead and website.
Use colors that please the eye. Remember, the idea is to have an appealing business card, not one that overwhelms the person you’re handing it to. Keeping within a limit of 3-4 colors at most, use them as part of the text or logo or other background graphic elements. A photograph can be an excellent use of color (as long as the photo makes you look both attractive and professional). If your business offers a service of some kind, a photo is a great way to make an instant connection with potential customers.
Some graphic designers and marketing specialists advocate the use of QR codes on a business card. It’s not absolutely essential, but something worth considering as a way to appeal to smartphone users who want to get to your website at the speed of light.
Most importantly, a well-designed business card should match the “tone” of your product or service. A financial advisor, for example, might do better with a conservative design for her business card, while the owner of a “hot” new spa or restaurant might benefit from a more exuberant or gaudy design.
Once your business cards are designed and printed, remember to keep them with you at all times, so you’re ready to hand them out during impromptu introductions and other casual business encounters.