We live in a digital world. But the power of print is not yet depleted. And standing at the forefront of a brand’s tangible toolkit is the humble business card. Many would argue that business cards are still more powerful than arbitrary connections on LinkedIn or Twitter. They’re more personal, more unique, and more creative. 

But whatever the case, a business card is nothing without good design to back it up. After all, it’s a little piece of your brand that you’re offering to someone. Almost like a keepsake — and who wants an ugly keepsake?

So to help you on the way to networking success, here are 5 steps to fantastic business card design.  

1 – Keep it simple

It seems we’re always talking about minimalism in design, but not without good reason. Simplicity is an effective and elegant way to communicate with our audience. And there’s no better place for simplicity than the humble business card. 

First of all is the simple fact that there’s just not enough room on a business card to get into the nitty gritty of your business. Too much text means you’ll have to condense the font, which will result in copy that’s harder to read. 

So it’s important to cut back and include only the essentials. Your name, the name of your business, contact details, and logo — these are the bare necessities. In most cases there’s no need for much more than that.

Remember, 99% of the time you’ll be handing over your business card in person. This means you’ll have the opportunity to verbally communicate any information you feel is important. So your business’s USP, for example, doesn’t necessarily need to appear on the business card itself. 

It helps if we view our business cards as little more than reminders of our brand. Anyone who has your business card has likely met you, so already knows what your business is. Your card is simply there to jog their memory. 

2 – Make it look good

Let’s face it, most of the business cards we’re handed end up in the recycling. An average networking event can see us taking home bundles upon bundles of cards, stuffed into every available pocket. But only a handful of them ever make it into our pockets. 

One trick to ensure that your business card stands a good chance of evading the bin is simply to make it look good. As we all know, it’s hard to throw away nice things. And a business card that’s well made, well designed, and well printed, will be much more difficult to absently fling into the trash

As suggested above, strip it down to basics. Be bold, distinctive, and unique. Use colours that will stand out. And. . .

3 – Consider the finish

There are myriad business card finishes to select. Foil blocking, metallic inks, embossing, laser cutting spot-UV. The list could go on. But the important thing amidst all this choice is to choose which one best serves your purposes.

Perhaps your brand is more suited to a luxury print finish. Or maybe it would suit something more heavy-duty, simplistic, or eco-friendly. But whatever the case, don’t neglect the print finish. Remember that your business card, aside from its visual appeal, also provides a tangible experience

Business cards require physical handling. So consider how yours will feel in the hands of a client. Think about the thickness and texture, your choice of board, and the size. 

4 – Use a suitable font 

Business cards are limited by their size. There’s only so much information they can physically hold. Not only that, but the information business cards do contain needs to be vivid, distinct, and legible. To achieve this, you need to use the proper font.

Unfortunately, for the large majority of cases, this rules out most script and small fonts. A good rule to follow when considering your business card’s font is this: is it readable at arm’s length?

Generally speaking people already have fairly limited attention spans, so it’s important that they don’t need to work to glean the information presented on your business card. Everything needs to be available at a quick glance and nothing more.

5 – Don’t be cheap

Let’s be clear: business cards are fairly cheap as it is. Obviously with every embellishment (lamination, luxury print styles, etc) the price will increase. But in the grand scheme of business investments, business cards sit somewhere near the lower end of the spectrum. 

For this reason it’s important not to go too cheap. Be wary of printers who offer ridiculously low prices, and avoid the DIY route at all costs. Remember that no matter how good your office printer is, the final product won’t live up to professional standards

When you consider that business cards are like handshakes (i.e they count towards first impressions) then it becomes clear how important this point is. If you go too cheap it will show in the end result, and ultimately that could leave people with negative impressions of your brand

Long live print 

For more tutorials on print-based design, have a read of Magazine Covers: A Masterclass In Effective Design and How To Make An Effective Leaflet. And for what to do once the design is done, see How To Format Your Artwork For Print.