Designing your business card is easily one of my favorite parts that go into planning a new business. Maybe it’s the design aspect, maybe it’s the fact that it solidifies you as a business owner of a legitimate business with marketing materials, maybe it’s simply that it’s the point in which I feel like all of the planning, design, and prep work is done and your business card is what you have to show for it. Handing your business card over to someone is like putting your best foot forward. Everything that person needs to know about your business- the niche, the products, the tone of your brand, the overall vibe of you as a person and your business is all wrapped up into one neat presentation on about ten square inches.
Designing your business card can often be a daunting task. What should you include on the front? What would be best on the reverse? How easy should I make it for customers to contact me directly? My approach is “less is more”, but your design and included information are entirely up to you. For me and my business, I like to hand over a business card that is not visually overbearing, does not offer endless points of contact, and pleasing to look at and easy for the eye to settle on.
As a potential customer, when I receive a business card I generally like to look it over right away and either ask a question or make a comment about something on the card. With simple designs, I can give it a five-second glance and see that all the pertinent information is on there – and nothing else- making it the perfect marketing tool, no extra fuss to get distracted with and the important information stands out to the quick glance. Job well done. These cards get tucked into my wallet until I get home when I can sit down at my computer and take a look at their website or social media.
On the other hand, have you ever received a business card from someone that is just plain hard to navigate? I certainly have. When handed these cards, I sift through the icons and banners showing discount offers, client testimonials, and logos of businesses that the company has worked with, only to flip the card over and be assaulted by a photo of the business owners’ entire family with big scary smiles holding up every single product they have to offer. These cards find their way to the recycling before I am even twenty feet away. Yes, these cards are loaded with every single bit of information imaginable, and I can only assume business owners see this as a good thing, but all it really does is give me an idea of your customer service, your marketing strategies, and your overall business feel… overbearing and not for me.
Again, the “less is more” approach is my preferred method of business card advertising, but maybe that’s just not who you are, and that’s okay! Do what feels right for you. If you feel your target customer prefers all the information up front as well as a discount code and client testimonials, go for it. At the end of the day, you are the one who has the best grasp on your business and customers and what their needs are. Cater to them.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend taking a look at our business planning worksheets. If you are having a difficult time envisioning your business card design, our worksheets can help guide you through the design process of your overall business and help you define your branding and other visual aspects. Our business planning worksheets are interactive guides to help you do the following:
If you have already filled our business planning worksheets, great- you’re a step ahead of the game! Have these worksheets in front of you to help guide you through designing your business card. If you have not yet filled out the worksheets, I highly suggest downloading them and taking a look at what they have to offer – they’re free!
CHOOSING A PRINTING COMPANY
Let’s talk about business card printing services. Not all business card printing services are created equal. Sure, you can expect to receive good print quality as well as a variety of papers and finishes, but not all companies offer the same add-ons. Have you always wanted a business card with rounded corners, or perhaps a square card? Do you want metallic foil on your cards? Are environmentally friendly cards important to you? If any of these questions piqued your interest, I recommend checking out your printing options prior to designing your card.
Something to keep in mind while looking into your printing options is your budget. Are you budget conscious and looking for a card that will get the job done without breaking the bank? Look for companies that competitively price their standard services and try to steer clear of premium options such as unique shapes, metallic foil, pearl finishes, or extra-thick paper. Are you looking to make a huge statement with your card and to come in swinging on your “first pitch” with money not being an issue? Look for companies who excel in the extra touches and offer many premium upgrades such as interesting shapes, unique finishes, raised printing, and painted edges.
Let’s take a look at some of the stand out business card printing companies and what they have to offer.
I am sure a lot of you have heard of VistaPrint before, or perhaps you have even used them. VistaPrint offers competitive pricing, a wide variety of design templates, great add-ons and upgrades such as square cards, rounded edges, folded cards, metallic foil, and a large variety of papers and coatings. VistaPrint regularly has great sales and promotions on business cards making them a great option if you are just getting started and cost is a factor in your business card decisions.
Uprinting.com has an amazing selection of business card options if you are looking to stand out amongst the crowds. From standard, square, circular, oval, and even more shape choices, you can design a card that sits a little differently in a potential customer’s hand. Uprinting offers a variety of finishes including raised spot UV, silk, velvet, and even painted edges for an extra premium touch. While their non-standard business cards can cost a bit more than VistaPrint, Uprinting excels in the added details that put your card at the head of the pack.
Overnightprints has become a widely used and trusted site for business card printing, offering standard cards, circular cards, square cards, mini cards, and euro cards. While they do offer rounded edges and extra-thick cardstock, they are a bit more limited as far as add-ons and specialty touches. Overnightprints regularly has sales and promotions, making standard business cards very competitively priced and a good choice for those looking to remain cost-effective without sacrificing quality.
Oh Moo, if only I could afford your gorgeous cards and amazingly luxurious options. Moo.com is known as one of the best card printing services available. When you are handed a business card that has been printed by Moo, you know it right away, it is unmistakable. Somehow, no matter the content on the card, I just can’t bring myself to throw out a Moo card. From their generous weights to their rich finishes, Moo excels at the ever-important details with their premium papers, cotton options, and even letterpress cards. You can order standard cards, square cards, large cards, and mini cards as well as cards with gold foil, spot gloss, and raised spot gloss and rounded corners. Moo.com even offers a free sample pack so you can test out and personally feel each of their soft finishes and wonderful papers prior to ordering.
While Moo goes above and beyond with their quality, the cards outprice pretty much everyone else in the industry, making them quite out of reach for many people just starting their business. If price is of no concern and you want a stand out card with amazing quality, I highly recommend Moo. If you find Moo to be within your budget- check out their Printfinity cards, a pack of business cards each with a different image on the back that you upload. This is a great product for those who want to showcase their individual items on every card without cluttering your design.
Of course, there are more than four reputable business card printing services out there, but I personally have worked with each of these four companies. If you don’t quite see what you are looking for in a printing company, keep looking! You may even find you prefer a local service like a small print shop nearby or even the print desk at Staples or Office Depot. The options are fairly endless, but if you are looking to avoid hours of research and jump right into designing and ordering, I can personally recommend any of the four companies above.
START BY CHOOSING THE BASIC ELEMENTS
Now that you have a better idea as to the options available to you, it’s time to get designing. If you have filled out our free business planning worksheets, I recommend having them in front of you so you can quickly reference your colors, fonts, logos, any prints or patterns, and the overall vibe you want your business to put forward. Think about your shape and orientation options. Are you going for standard rectangular cards, square, circular, or oval? Will you be designing a standard horizontal card, or do you prefer a vertical orientation?
BLANK TEMPLATES AND DESIGNING PROGRAMS
Once you have selected from the available choices, look for the templates page on the business card printing website. Many printing companies offer blank templates for each of their card sizes to help you design within the print and cut margins they require. In most cases, these templates are formatted for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Acrobat, though some companies also offer templates for Microsoft Publisher and JPEG formats. Choose the option best for you, download the file, and open it in your preferred program. If you do not have an editing program or are not quite comfortable using it, Canva is a great tool for easily creating designs. Canva can be used on your phone or computer and offers tons of free templates you can customize, though some designs might have a small fee. You can also start with a blank canvas and start creating from scratch, too!
Something to think about: If you don’t have an adequate grasp on design and editing software, many printing websites have pre-designed business card templates available for you. While this is a much simpler process, you will not be able to fully customize your card which can make it more difficult to maintain your brand identity.
Now that you have your card template in front of you, take a look at your worksheets you filled out, perhaps most importantly the Build Your Brand worksheet. By sticking with the elements you defined in the Build Your Brand worksheet, you will have a much easier time in keeping with your brand identity and voice. Try pulling in some details from your Build Your Brand worksheet, such as one or two of your font choices and the color you want most prominent in your company.
Tip: If you are using a designer like Canva you may not have immediate access to the fonts you’ve identified on your Build Your Brand worksheet. Go to the “Brand Kit” section to upload additional fonts. You will need to upgrade from the free version of Canva to “Canva for Work” using the thirty-day free trial period. After thirty days, Canva for Work is $12.95 per month.
START WITH THE BASICS
Your main font should be used on your business name, which should be the most prominent text on the card. Plug in your business name and increase the font size to your liking. Consider the placement and alignment of your business name. Try out left, center, and right alignment to see what you like best. Left or right alignment can leave a nice space for your company logo if you are so inclined to have it on your card.
*Tip: If including your company logo (or other images/designs), make sure the resolution is high enough to ensure good print quality. I like to work in 300dpi, but as long as the preview of your design appears crisp and in focus, you should be fine.
Consider the details you want on the card. Are you hoping this card gets you more sales, more contacts, more social media followers, or all of the above? I tend to make my first focus the next most prominent feature on the card, so if sales are your goal, put in your website link next. Play around with using one of your accent fonts or a standard easy to read font that doesn’t distract from your brand identity.
Consider the methods of contact you would like to provide to your customer. I prefer to control where I receive my messages, directing them all to one or two places. If you have your website or shop link on your card, chances are most people will go there to contact you. If you prefer to put your e-mail on your card, you will not be in the minority as this is a popular choice. Personally, I omit my telephone number, but if you are a telephone kind of person and enjoy the personal touch of a voice on the other end, feel free to include yours. I like the boundary that online contact creates and find many pros as to restricting contact to e-mail/messages such as being able to answer my messages on my schedule, have a paper trail of all messages, and can easily log all correspondence.
Having trouble narrowing down your contact methods? Picture this- on your business card you include the following: website, social media links, e-mail, and telephone number. Sounds manageable and straight forward, right? This means that at any time, you can expect and need to look out for direct e-mails, messages sent through your website, messages sent through another site you sell on (Etsy, Amazon, etc.), messages in the form of comments on any of your social media handles, direct messages on the same social media handles, phone calls, and text messages. Do you think you will keep up with chasing down all of your messages? I know I won’t. For me, the perfect business card contact formula is website and active social media channels.
When it comes to social media, most businesses try to have a wide reach by having an account on every platform. This is great. Maybe you prefer to focus on one or two. That’s great too! Pretend you have 2-5 social media accounts across different platforms. That’s a lot of clutter on your card. Can you narrow these down to the few you focus on? For me, I am most active on Instagram and Pinterest and my target audience is too, making them must-haves on my card. While I have Facebook and Twitter, I don’t often use them, so I don’t include them on my card.
Eliminating the less important ones is a good way to focus on the design and readability of your business card as well as to make a great impression on your potential customers. If your Instagram is strong but your Facebook page hasn’t been fully filled out and you have no immediate intention of maintaining it, skip adding it to your business card. Once you hand over your card, you have no control over what your potential customer visits first. Would you want them to visit the Facebook page you never finished? No. Would you want them to visit your Instagram and see that they can keep up with the regular and amazing content you post? Absolutely yes.
As well as putting the focus on the more active social media accounts, another great space-saving trick is to avoid using the entire link to your profiles. Nothing can clutter up a business card quite like long links that no one will type in. Avoid putting links like https://www.facebook.com/my-business-name/?modal=admin_todo_tour for each account- instead try a small logo of each social media icon next to your handle name, much like @ mybusinessname. Those familiar with social media will know exactly how to find you; those not familiar with social media will not be looking for you anyway.
ADD SOME VISUAL ELEMENTS
How does your design look so far? Do you want to add an interesting visual or an image? I like to play around with background colors, interesting shapes, color blocking, background patterns, or even a photo of my main product or group of products. Look back to your Build Your Brand worksheet: did you provide any pattern, photo, or color details you could pull in? It’s quite easy to go overboard here, so just take some time to step back and look at your design throughout the process. If things begin to look too cluttered, consider keeping the front of the card simple and adding the designs or a photo to the back. If you like designs and photos on each side, try adjusting the opacity to give it a softer feel to help set the focus on the text you included.
*Tip: The negative space on your business card is just as visually important as the content. The negative space is what allows your potential customer’s eyes to rest on your card, making it easier to read, pleasing to look at, and improves the chances of interaction with your business. Do you see a good balance of negative space and content?
Step back and take a look at your design. Is it missing something you can’t seem to put your finger on? Do you have a tagline for your business you think could benefit your card? Take a look at your Finding Your Niche worksheet: how did you define your niche? Would adding this to your card help define your company and give potential customers a better idea as to what to expect? Are you happy with your design but think it could use a little tweaking? Play around with the fonts, colors, and placement of the different elements. Even the slightest adjustment can help make your card pop and stand out amongst the rest.
REVIEW YOUR DESIGN
Once you have finalized your design, compare it to your Build Your Brand worksheet. Do they look related? Does your brand voice come through? At this point, I print my design to size and cut it out. I know this is a bit much, but your business card is often the first impression for a potential customer, let’s make sure it’s perfect. If you feel so inclined, print and cut out your card. How does it look in your hand, your wallet, next to your products? If you were given it at a craft fair or a show, would you give it a second glance? Would you have any questions to ask the person you received it from? Would it go in your wallet or the recycling bin? This may seem like overkill, but doing exercises like this can help set your business and marketing strategies up for success.
Sometimes at this point when I am completely thrilled with the design (and I’ve triple checked spelling, grammar, and links!), I like to sleep on it and revisit it the next day. If you still think it is stellar, it’s time to print and impatiently wait for the cards to arrive. If you are still questioning aspects of your card design, you can run it by people you consider to be in your target audience. Yes, friends and family are fine to run it by, but you may not get an unbiased opinion. Do they notice anything they would change? Do they have any questions not addressed on the card? They may give you valuable input, but again, at the end of the day, the choice is up to you as you are the one who has the best grasp on your business.
UPLOADING YOUR FINISHED DESIGN TO THE PRINT COMPANY
When you have finalized your business card design, save the file in a format recognized by the print company. I prefer to save in .png, as most companies accept this, though .jpg is usually acceptable too. On the print company’s website, you should find a place to upload your design (it is usually nested in the business card menu).
Upload your file(s) and take a look at the preview. Is everything in focus? Is everything within the safety line? If not, you can usually adjust this within the website design tool. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be within the safety line, far enough for your text not to even touch the margin. Does your background extend to the cut line? If not, adjust the image in your design file and reload it. If you have a background other than white in your design and it does not extend beyond the cutline, you run the risk of receiving business cards with an unwanted white frame around your design. After you have verified that your design works well with both the safety and cut line, you should take one last look at the preview. How are your margins? Is your text alignment correct? Is everything in focus?
CHOOSING YOUR PAPER, FINISH, AND OTHER ADD-ONS
The hard part is done! Now it’s time to select your paper type, weight, finish, and any other options you might have. Again, these choices are completely up to you, but there are a few things to consider when selecting your options. I like to start by choosing my card finish as it is more visually impactful than the type of paper. In keeping with my personal style and branding, I stick to matte or satin finishes. Aside from personal choice, here are a couple of reasons why I think matte cards tend to make a better impression.
- A good matte finish helps the card be highly visible from any angle. While glossy coated cards can still look nice, they are often quite reflective and do not always do a great job showcasing your design. As someone who has attended their fair share of craft fairs and outdoor vending events, I can tell you how many times I see people struggling to read the information on glossy cards because of glare. Glare on a business card is not an absolute deal-breaker, but for me I would rather go with a matte card and know that my potential customers are faced with a clearly visible representation of my company, especially knowing that most people get their first impression within the first few seconds.
- Business cards with a matte finish do not retain fingerprints like a glossy card. Not that people expect to receive an entirely pristine business card from you, but why not choose the finish that at least cuts down on the possibility of it looking sloppy? Again, as someone who has been to a craft fair a time or two, a well-designed card can look quite sloppy and used when it is covered in fingerprints from prior handling.
That being said, there are definitely some pros to having a glossy coated card. Is the focus of your business card a product photo? If so, a glossy finish tends to make a better impression on photos as it can enhance the look of the photo and make it stand out more. Additionally, glossy coated cards tend to be a bit more durable. If you are concerned about the surface of your card lasting through storage, packing, mailing, handling, and more- glossy can give you a bit more added security when it comes to card longevity. Both glossy and matte cards are perfectly acceptable when it comes to surviving average wear and tear through use, but glossy coatings tend to be applied a bit thicker.
If you are still having a difficult time deciding on the finish, consider the products you sell and the materials you use to make them. Are they organic, natural, nature-centered, tactile? Do they create a cozy and warm vibe? For example, woven throw pillows, organic candles, linen dresses. For something like this I would opt for the matte finish as it reflects the items you offer your customers. Are your items or materials hard, shiny, more confined? Do they give a more structured vibe or do they feature art or photography? For example, gemstone jewelry, custom printed mugs, glassware. Perhaps go with the glossy coating as it might reflect your products and materials better.
After you have zeroed in on the finish for your card take a look at your different paper options. Only some of these may be available to you based on your selected finish. Most standard business cards are printed on 14 pt. cardstock, but many companies offer cardstock between 14-20 pt., and some even as thick as 32pt. I would not recommend printing on anything less than 14 pt. as your card will feel flimsy and cheap, as well as being less durable. If quality is important to you, consider a thicker paper to make an impression on your potential customers. I personally like the feel of 16 pt. cards as they are noticeably sturdy but not alarmingly so. In addition to the thickness, some companies offer special papers like linen, cotton, textured, and recycled. I like to choose recycled.
Did you plan for any other special add-ons- a painted edge, rounded corners, foil? Don’t forget to add those options to your order!
PLACING YOUR ORDER
At this point, you are probably exhausted from designing, redesigning, deciding on options, and revisiting your decisions over and over again- but there is one more thing to do… check for coupons! As a smart shopper and new business owner, you should take a minute to see if there are any pricing deals you weren’t aware of. I like to google “print companies name + coupon” or check sites like www.retailmenot.com for any deals the print company may be offering. Sometimes companies will post coupon codes on their social media pages only; give those a quick peek for possible savings. Remember, searching for savings makes you a smart shopper, and as a new business owner- puts more money in your pocket for other expenses.
Now that your perfect card is added to your cart, you’ve triple-checked the preview of your design, and you’ve entered in any available promotional codes, it’s time to hit checkout and bask in the glory of designing your best ever business card.