Over the past 12 years, we have printed over 60 million business cards for 5000 companies, large and small. You would probably expect that the big brands have the best card layouts, but from first-hand experience, I would disagree with that maxim. Sometimes the big boys get it plain wrong!
These are my top recommendations for achieving a great looking card.
1. Less is always more!
Your business card layout should not be too crowded with content. By sticking to this approach, you will avoid overloading the card with superfluous information. Your name is important, as is your company name. These should be prominently placed within the design. Emails matter too! They are the primary form of business communication these days, so again I recommend placing the email close to the name. Leave out the fax! (do you still have a fax?) And put one phone number on there, not 3!
2. Colour is a delicate topic
The more colours you employ in the design of your logo and business card, the more chance of you wishing that you hadn't about 6 months later. I recommend you use a maximum of 3 colours within your logo design or business card. (Yes, Google being the exception with their rainbow branding… but you're not Google are you?) It is easy to over do it, and gild the lily, so ensure you get some impartial feedback on your logo and the colours employed
. Keep it simple, choose complimentary colours for the different elements and don't forget about readability, yellow text on white is not going to get you many sales leads!
3. Just the fonts, ma'am
Fonts are like colours, and follow the trends and cycles of popularity within the design community. The current popular font styles hark back to the early days of print packaging from the 40s and 50s, with a retro feel. Whilst this can work for some businesses, it can very quickly become outmoded and limiting in your companies' identity.
The most effective fonts to use for business card design are the clean, traditional serif and sans serif range, including Garamond and Helvetica with maximum legibility.
Function takes precedence over form, with respect to a visiting card's content. It must be easy to read; otherwise it fails to serve its purpose.
4 Avoid the Gimmicks and the Clutter
‘What's that funny black and white box on your business card?' she asked. ‘It's a QR Code, if you take a picture of it with your smart phone; it will capture the contact details from the card ‘I said in reply. ‘You mean the ones written here that I can see with my human eyes?'
‘Yes! Impressive isn't it?' I didn't feel that impressive as I said it…
5 Using photos and images
Alan Blackwell recently corrected the age old adage when he declared that ‘a picture is worth 84.1 words'
. Rather less than the ten thousand words originally stated by Confucius, and a reduction to the 1000 claimed by Frederick Barnard in 1921.
Blackwell's conclusion is backed up by his statistics, but he might have lost a little of the romance and poetry of the original adage along the way…
Using photos within the business card design is mandatory for some companies. A wedding photographer for example is almost certain to have an example image or two on the layout. Ultimately it's a subjective call, and one you and you colleagues must feel comfortable with. You are the card carriers and distributors of your card, an activity you should fulfill with pride, not timidity.