What makes a good business card?


You go networking to get your business name out there and someone asks if they could have your card. As you hand it over you are apologising about the way it looks and how you have been meaning to get it redesigned. Not exactly the best first impression you are leaving behind, and more importantly why are you embarrassed about your business card? If you are taking the time to go networking and have thought about what you are wearing and what you are going to say, why haven’t you addressed what your business card looks like? This small but important marketing tool is going to (hopefully!) be kept by that person and you want them to remember your business, not the fact that your business card is uninspiring and you have been meaning to get it re-printed.

As a graphic designer who goes networking, time and again people apologise to me about their cards and how they need to get it re-designed, how it is out of date but they are using up the old cards. For me this is an invitation to a bigger conversation about what I can do for them, but if I wasn’t a graphic designer and you were still apologising I wouldn’t think you were that professional or serious about your own business image therefore are you that professional overall?

If your business card is poorly designed and unreadable it won’t reflect the right image that you are trying to portray about your business. Your business card has one main function, to be kept by a potential client / customer for them to refer to you when they might need your product or service.

What should go on your card

Think about how much information you are putting on your business card. It is only small and you don’t want to cram too much unnecessary information on to it. Who are you, what do you do and how do you want people to contact you?

Other items you could add on are your social media @ names, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.. Plus don’t forget your web address!

A tag line or some short bullet points about your services could also be useful, especially if what you do isn’t immediately obvious from your business name / logo.

I find QR codes on a business card unnecessary. QR codes are not attractive graphics and they often fight with your branding. QR codes are used to direct people to a specific page on your website so leave them for larger marketing items where they have more relevance. I am also not a fan of profile photographs on a business card. I understand people do it so that they remember the face to the card, but for me the logo and your first impression should do that job, not your face.

Size is important

Recently when networking I have been handed a business card which is a third the size of a normal card. This is cost effective but for me I find them annoying. I always lose these cards and when I go to file them away they fall out of the sleeves. The other problem is if people create a card which is larger than 85x55mm. Yes it stands out but where do you file it? It ends up on my desk hidden amongst all the other items I have been meaning to file away. Business cards are a standard size for a reason, there are other tips and printing techniques you can use to make them look and feel different from others.

Your card has two sides

Don’t forget the back of your card. By utilising the front and back of your cards you can spread the information out and allow the contact information room to breathe.

The back of your card can just have your logo and strap line leaving the other side for your name, title, contact details and social media links. When handing a card to anyone at a networking event, people always turn it over to see the other side so don’t worry that all the information isn’t visible on the same side.

Printing is important

You have spent the time getting your logo created and your business card designed professionally so don’t skim on budget when it comes to the printing. The printing and finishing of your card can make or break even the best designed item. You don’t want your card to be trimmed uneven or the inks not aligned properly, every detail of your card should be considered and that includes the paper it is printed on.

Do you want a card that feels smooth to touch, or perhaps you are a gardener so want a more rustic or tactile finish? There are so many papers that can say something different just by how they feel. Also clever printing techniques like spot uv’s, varnishing and embossing go that extra mile to create something more memorable.

Some people think that business cards are a thing of the past now we are living in this digital age. The business card may become digital in the future, but for now technology hasn’t invented anything that replaces this small but affective marketing tool so while we wait lets make the most of our business cards and give the best first impression.