A Thorough Guide to Business Cards

The potential of a well-designed business card is underestimated. Business cards form first impressions and can set the basis for successful business relationships. All design aspects are important for a good impression of a business card: text, font, colours and logo, as well as the card’s shape, size and paper stock. Here, we share our most useful tips and examples to help you create an awesome business card. 

Content: what to put on your business card

The 2 important questions here are: Whom does the business card represent? and To whom is it presented? If it’s a general business card of your business to hand out to your customers, maybe all you need is the logo and a website. At the other end in the complexity range, we find employee’s business cards to be quite busy.

Let’s say you need a business card for an account executive at your company. This would include company information as well as the contact details of the executive:

  • Company name and logo
  • General contact details of the company: website and address
  • Name of the employee
  • Position and/or department in the company
  • Phone number and email address of the employee

This is already quite a lot of information, so the card would need to be as simple and clear as possible. Never overload your business card with unnecessary details. Does anyone really need that second phone number?

We’ve worked with clients in various types of businesses, and all we can say is that, in order to limit the content to relevant information, you have to anticipate the ways customers prefer to reach you

Other details you may want to consider adding on your business card are:

  • A QR code for the phone number: this is basically a code you scan with your smartphone to save the number faster. If your business card already has more than 4 lines of text, don’t do it. It will result in clutter. Another option is to put the code on reverse side.
  • A mini map of your business’s address: do this especially if your business is hard to find and connecting with customers means visiting at the physical address.
  • Social media profiles: If you keep in touch with your target audience via Social Media, definitely put them on your business card. Add your Facebook page URL, your LinkedIn profile or your Twitter handle (if you’re loud on Twitter).

Tip: Opt for icons instead of having the full text for labels like phone, website, Facebook. This saves space and offers a visual aid that guides the eye through the bulk of text.

Business card icons

Business card mockup with icons replacing text labels

Know that for many social media networks you can customize the URL that leads to your profile. If the link to your Facebook page contains a bunch of digits, get a vanity URL from Facebook. If you are a page admin, go to Edit page > Update Page Info > Facebook Web Address. There you can choose a name for your custom URL that will appear as facebook.com/namepickedbyyou. People will find your Facebook page a lot easier after this. Replace facebook.com with fb.me for a shortened link.

Colours, fonts and style

Here is the first thing to know about colours for printed designs: the colours on the monitor do not look the same when printed. Printers use CMYK colours, while your phone or laptop’s screen colours are in RGB mode. Design agencies usually convert the colours for you, so the colours you’ll see in the proposals will be very close to the colours on the printed business card. However, if you decide to do it on your own, ask your printer company if they can convert the colours for you. Most printers offer this service as well.

The fonts used in a business card design should be simple and easy to read. Pick one typeface or family of fonts and stick to it for all your visual identity materials. Ideally, your business cards should have one or two fonts. Having more than two fonts creates unnecessary visual complexity.

The graphic elements and general style of your business card should not stray away too far from your company’s visual identity. You want your clients to recognize your brand when they see the stationery, or the logo, or the menu, or the signage. A good visual identity is a cohesive identity.

Shape and size

The standard size of a business card in Western Europe is 85 × 55 mm. See different sizes in other parts of the world here. Usually there are no additional charges for printing cards that have a different size.

Most business cards have rectangular shapes with straight edges, but opting for rounded corners is increasingly common. It really depends on the style of your brand whether you decide to use square corners or rounded corners. If the visual identity of your brand contains round-cornered elements, then it would be ideal to use them for your business card, too. A big plus of round corners is that they prevent tearing and will make your card last longer.

If you’re looking for a shape that will make your business card stand out, die-cut and custom finishes can be applied, for a charge.

die cut business card

Die cut business card in the shape of the logo, for fashion coupon search engine

Don’t choose special finishes and die cuts for your card if they are not relevant to your brand. A business card should above all represent your brand. If its shape or coating does not go with your branding, the added value will be 0, with the risk of distracting the viewer’s attention to irrelevant aspects. It’s always a good idea to look for inspiration by browsing the web for innovative business card designs, but don’t opt for a vertical or round card just because you’ve seen it work somewhere else. It has to make sense. Do you sell cheese wheels? Then, by all means, make it round and matte. Read more about die cuts and custom finishes for your business card in this post.

Going the extra mile

Think of ways to enhance your business card with the purpose of closing a sale. What could that extra feature be? Think of something useful for your clients. Unnecessary elements and folds might make it stand out, but does it really help anyone understand more about your business?

A perfect example is the USB business card. Very 2014! If you’re delivering a pitch, hand out business cards with USB sticks integrated. Include a presentation of your company on the stick. It might be a bit costly, but it certainly makes an impression. Clients are much more likely to actually check out your company instead of just stacking your card in a pile.

USB business card

Business card with integrated USB stick

Printing checklist

Always run a checklist before sending your print order. With all the printing techniques and effects available today, this list could be endless. We’ll keep it short:

1. Text. Check the contact details and test the QR code if you have one.

2. Images. The resolution needs to be at least 300 dpi and the colour mode CMYK.

3. File format. JPEG, PDF and TIFF files work with most printers. Ask your printer in advance about their supported file formats.

4. Bleed. The content should not extend to the margins of the card, but stay in the safe zone for printing.

5. Back side. If you want double-sided business cards, the design on the back side must also be contained in the files you send to the printer.

6. Card stock. Choose the thickness and texture for your card stock.

7. Printing techniques. Talk to your printer about offset and digital printing and check out their custom finish options.

Where to find inspiration

The designer will help you find a suited style based on your brief. If you don’t have any specific ideas about how you want your business card to look like, browsing through inspirational sites with business card examples will get you started.

Here are a few sites with great collections: CardNerd | Cardobserver | Cardview | Cardonizer | Creattica

We hope this guide has helped you make an informed decision for your business card. Printing costs vary greatly depending on the card stock and special finishes or materials you want to use, while design costs are more straightforward. Our business card design offer starts at £ 19 for one-sided versions.

Learn more about business cards in this article:

Printing techniques and custom finishes for business cards