How to Create an Effective Business Card

A business card serves as an important marketing tool that can help you make connections, create a picture of what you do, and generate sales. Yet many businesspeople don’t give this important device the attention it deserves, instead settling for a poorly designed or convoluted card.

Here’s some advice from local experts on how to create or redesign your card to make it as effective as possible.

Make an Impression.

“The most important thing to remember when designing a business card is that this 3.5 x 2 inch sliver of paper represents your first impression,” says Damion Wasylow, vice president and creative director for Group 5 Advertising.

So when creating your card, consider how you want people to think of you and your business, Wasylow suggests, and develop a card that reflects the image you want people to have. For example, is your company boring or flashy, analytical or creative, tender or stern?

Also, keep in mind that your card may end up in a drawer or wallet with dozens of others so your design should help the card stand out from the competition.

Cover the Basics.

While you may want to get creative with your card, don’t overlook the basics, including  your name, title, address, phone numbers, the organization’s logo, tag line and your email address, says Terry Van Nortwick of ProInk.

You might also want to include your company’s Twitter and Facebook addresses, depending on the audience, Wasylow adds.

What about including a photo of yourself? Van Nortwick says she doesn’t favor it for most professionals. However, Wasylow says there are some times when photos are appropriate, especially as a product demo.

“If you’re a landscaper, why not feature one of your more elaborate gardens on the back?” he says. “Maybe even print four versions of your card, each with a different image. The cost-efficiency of modern four-color printing makes this possible.”

Keep It Neat

To play up his firm’s creative edge, Damion Wasylow uses a two-sided card that fits in a sleeve with die-cut openings.

A common mistake people make is to put information together in a haphazard way, Van Nortwick says. Typography is also important. “Make sure that it’s legible,” she says.

And design the card so it’s easy to find what you consider your key contact information, whether it’s your phone number, email address, website or whatever.

Consider the Material Carefully.

Does the material the card is made of matter?

Very much so.

“Flimsy paper is an immediate turnoff,” says Wasylow. “Heavier stock costs more, but it conveys company strength.”

Van Nortwick has a personal preference for really thick paper, not thin floppy paper. “I’m sort of partial to 110-pound stock myself,” she says, with 100-pound paper stock being the minimum.

You should also consider the texture of the paper. “Your choice expresses the character of your firm.” Wasylow says. “And don’t limit your options to just paper. Cardboard, metal, acrylic and other mediums add a unique touch where appropriate,” he says.

Avoid Templates

You may be tempted to use a generic template to create your card since it will be cheaper than a custom design, but Wasylow advises against it. “Avoid using templates at all costs,” he says. “Remember, this is your first impression and you don’t want the introduction to be, ‘Hi, we’re just another cookie cutter company (Unless, of course, your company sells cookie cutters).’ ”

In our world of email, smart phones, and virtual address books some may say the business card is diminishing in value. But Brian Slawson, a University of Florida professor of graphic design, doesn’t agree.

“If you’re meeting someone face-to-face you’ll still want something tangible to exchange,” he says. “Business cards are like a handshake.”

Indeed business cards may even be more valuable these days. “Maybe when so much of our daily interaction is done electronically, physical things become more meaningful and memorable,” he suggests.


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