For small businesses a website is key, email signatures are important, social media profiles are useful and electronic forms keep you on task and looking professional—but there is one item that most businesses overlook or treat as an afterthought. I want you to think about that teeny 2 x 3.5 inch piece of paper in your pocket as an aspect of your brand that your customer can hold on to and touch and contemplate and share. Take time and make sure your business card makes the right impression.
I think we can all agree that a free stock business card from an online service with their logo on the back is not going to position you as a competent, trustworthy and earnest professional. You need to take some time and create a card that is unique to your business.
But what should your business card be? Of course it should be an extension of your existing look—maybe it keys off of the design on your website. Or, if you have a logo, color scheme and fonts you should can incorporate them. Or maybe you are running a promotional or marketing campaign that your business card should be a part of. However, beyond the visual look there are many aspects to take into consideration.
For a short run of cards you might consider going luxe. Like those 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets you sleep on, materials matter. Right now I love ultra thick cotton papers. Every time I pull out one of my cards it makes a statement. Thick like a saltine cracker and pillowy soft the stock demands attention right away. Letterpress printing is the perfect counterpoint with its deep impressions and rich blacks. But your choices are almost endless.
Printing, finishing, specialty processes and paper all play a role. A good graphic designer can help direct you through the myriad of choices. The following are some print production details to get you started:
First think about the paper. Not only the paper content (cotton, recycled, FSC-certified, tree-free, synthetic, translucent) but the color (any shade of white, black, kraft, colored, fiber inclusions), weight, finish (super smooth, smooth, vellum, felt) or even duplex. And then, of course, you can also consider non-paper cards. Sitting on my desk right now I've got a metal card, a clear plastic card with a metallic sheen and an industrial cardboard.
Then consider printing. Most cards are traditionally offset printed in one or two colors. Offset is a great option but you could also consider other printing techniques (engraving, silk screen, digital printing, white ink printing, thermography or letterpress). Digital printing with a company like moo.com opens up a world of possibilities. You can print fifty cards and every card can have a different full color image on one side. This is especially great for artists and photographers. But don't also forget your many ink options. Of course you can print in any pantone color, four-color process, solid coverage, full bleed, etc.
Things get really interesting when you start considering specialty techniques like embossing, die cutting, folding or color cores. There are also add-ons that can make a strong statement—slip cases, wrap-around stickers, mini envelopes, edge painting and die cutting into unusual shapes.
Over the past 20 plus years I have had no fewer than six different business cards. And I'm desperately in need of a new one. Why so many? First, creating new cards is a reason to hand them out regularly—and increase your marketing reach. You can also tailor business cards to different aspects of your business and personal life. I created a very short run of cards with my photography when I did my 365 day project. I also had a short run of mom cards to hand out to parents of my kid's playmates. I also promoted the launch of two websites and the move of my office.
So now I'm going to take my advice and begin designing a new business card.