Printing techniques for your business card

The business card is one of the items that deserve the most attention when it comes to corporate design. A good colour scheme and beautiful typography can make your business card stand out, but will that get your business’ message across in the best way possible if printed on a plain, rectangle-shaped cardboard? Well-executed business cards make use of various materials and printing techniques to obtain innovative effects and get the look and feel that best fit the business.

Emboss / Deboss printing

Embossing and debossing are techniques to create relief designs, with a carved look and feel. Embossing creates a raised, 3D effect, while debossing creates a recessed one, hollowed inward. There are different embossing techniques you can opt for, depending on your budget and quantity needs. Contact your printer to learn how they operate and find an optimal solution.

You can choose to create a blind effect, without adding colours on the 3D design, or a register one, with ink or foil applied.

 

Blush embossed business card design

Blind embossed business card on cotton paper, by Blush Publishing.

ink-embossing business card

Ink embossed business card.

Embossing works great with many design styles and can be combined with various other printing techniques for a more complex finish that will make your business card stand out.

 

Are you planning on applying this technique to your prints? Keep in mind that graphics look less sharp when embossed, especially smaller graphics. Another aspect to consider when designing for embossed prints is that all embossed elements will appear smaller than they are, so you may want to size them up beforehand. If you plan to include text in your design, it is best to use a font with generous spacing. Otherwise, a merged look could be obtained for some of the characters, which would make the text harder to read.

Letterpress

Letterpress printing is a very old printing technique using a typeset that is inked and then pressed onto the paper surface. The obtained effect is an inked mark with a debossed texture. Nowadays it is no longer used for industrial printing, though it has revived in the 1990s through its use in crafts and artisanal works. Its impression has a more natural texture than digital techniques, which is why its use in print design is spreading. Letterpress printing will give your print product that industrial look or realistic, classic feel that you won’t quite get from digital printers. Due to its widespread use in craft works in the past two decades, recognition for the ‘craft’ letterpress look has sprung. If your business deals with handmade or traditional services or products, this printing technique will definitely make your design appeal to your customers and leave a lasting impression.

 

Sifter-letterpress-business-card-design

Letterpress business card, designed by Evan Calkins of Hoban Press.

Fred-egan-letterpress-business-card-design

Letterpress business cards for photographer Fred Egan, designed by Studio Z Mendocino.

Foil application

This technique uses foil applied through a heating process to a defined area such as a vector image or an outlined text. The area specified for foil application is most often a logo or a name, in which case you may want to opt for a sufficiently large font that is spaced out, to avoid unwanted merges between letters. Usually metallic foil is applied, to obtain the classy, elegant effect of gold or silver coating. If you decide on this technique for your business card, we recommend using a simple and classic business card design, without other unnecessary elements or printing techniques on the same card side where foil is applied. The two business cards showed below are good examples of how to use silver or golden foil to make your card stand out.

 

Gold-foil-business-card-design

Golden foil business card design for fashion label Solis, designed by Richard Bair. The disk appears to rotate as you move the card.

Silver-foil-business-card-design

Business card design by  Elena Jasic, with silver foil applied on the front and UV spotted text on the back.

Die cut

Most business cards have the standard rectangle shape. Die-cutting techniques can help you get a distinguished look for your business card, often for only a few extra cents per piece. The paper stock is cut using sharp blades (which are called die) on defined areas. The obtained effects can be infinite. Your business card could have rounded corners or any special shape you’d like. Die-cutting can also be beautifully combined with other printing techniques.

 

We’ve selected below a few well-designed die cuts that successfully align the business card design with the brand image they represent.

 

Die-cut-business-card-design

Die cut business card design for Dot Design.

Do-die-cut-business-card-design

Die cut business card designed by Elfen.

Punched out shapes are also very eye-catching. Have a look at this ingenious use of die-cutting to create a punch out for the camera lens on one side of the card and for the O in Optimum on the other side.

 

punch-out-business-card-design

Punch out die cut business card design, by Taste of Ink.

Make use of custom materials

Why stick to cardboard? Get creative with other materials such as wood, metal or fabric and get your point across through touch (and maybe taste) as well. If your business card becomes a collectible, you’ll know the extra effort and money were definitely worthwhile.

 

cheese-die-cut-business-card-design

This business card with cheese hole die cuts was made from a smooth paper stock, with an almost waxy texture, in order to look and feel like a real slice of cheese; design by Rethink

Biscuit-edible-business-card design

Edible business card / biscuit designed by Dizzy Design; the cards are distributed and served at local cafes for promotion.

sticker-business-card-design

Sticker business card designed as a patch for covering torn sneakers, by Todacor Comunicação.

Business card design and printing

When you want to have a truly unique business card executed with these special printing techniques, you need good design too. Most design agencies, like ourselves, have an extra fee for preparing the design for these printing techniques. However, this does not mean they are much more expensive or that the cost is not worth it. Have a look at our business card design offer.

Image credits

Thanks to the following websites for the images: Blush, PrintJunkie, Sifter, Studio Z Mendocino, Richard Baird, Elena Jasic, Mmminimal, Taste of Ink, Rethink Canada, Card Observer and Creative Criminals.