Business Cards have become integrated into the daily lives of all working folk. Considering most business cards end up in someone’s trash can, it’s important to create a design that is simple enough to read quickly, but also stands apart from competitors. Here are some of the elements every business card should have, as well as some thoughts that could be good for specific industries.
1. Name and Title
Use your first and last name. Avoid qualifications such as M.A. unless you’re a doctor of some sort. Your title should imply your qualifications and if you need to add more, use a separate line. Many companies struggle with what titles to give employees and end up with a roster of inconsistencies across the board, such as some Associate Vice Presidents and some Assistant Vice Presidents, or a whole host of promoted employees carrying around the 1000 business cards that were ordered prior to promotion. Titles might seem like fluff, but they’re actually quite important to get straight before your company soars.
As a company grows quickly, it’s important to provide organizational clarity wherever possible and that gets more difficult if there are 50 VPs and 10 Chiefs.
2. Contact information
A business card without the most basic contact information is like a flat soccer ball. It’s only good for the dog to chew on.
Your contact information should include your address, phone number, email address, and website. Some businesses are based solely on Facebook, in which case use your Facebook address instead of your website. If your business is interactive marketing, such as mine, you’d better include your social networking sites. But cleanliness is key, so don’t clutter the card with fax machine numbers if you never use your fax, or five different email addresses when you actually only need one. Make it known that you are easy to reach by having the bare necessities and nothing more.
3. Licenses and Certifications
If General Contracting is your business, include your license number. When you end up in the clients’ rolodex, this makes it easy when they realize “I don’t know if I checked if he’s licensed.” But more importantly, it helps you stand apart from the competition. Again, cleanliness is key, so only include those licenses and certifications that are necessary to conducting everyday business.
Your logo is your brand. It’s how people remember you. For this reason, your logo should take up 1/3 of the space on the front of your business card. Imagine flicking through a stack of business cards. Yours should be easy to recognize so that your clients can find you when they need to.
I recommend having a design on the back of your card with your logo included, but this will cost extra. Having a different color run the span of your card’s back will separate you from the pack, so it may be worth while to spend the extra $25 up front if it brings in one additional client.
Taglines are good when your line of business is not clear. My business card has three words below the logo: “Interactive. Print. Design.” This allows my card to tell potential clients which aspects of marketing I offer when I’m not around to explain. Taglines can be considered clutter though, so consider whether or not there is a different way to explain your line of business. DayBlueDesigns is a luxury wood working company. Instead of a tagline we provided a wood design with their logo embossed on the back of the business card. The result is clean and clear.
6. Other considerations
Die Cuts and special materials. Business cards that are cut into unique shapes or using special materials, such as metal, always stand out from competitors. Unfortunately, they also cost a considerable amount. I interviewed with a marketing firm that represented itself as “high-end” and had their employees carry metal business cards. The effect was impressive and did convey the luxury they were intending, however, their clients also saw them as expensive from the very first meeting. The business went under after 2 years.
Another business I have encountered recently uses die cut business cards in the shape of a water drop to represent their plumbing business. It is effective, although expensive, but you have to fold the card to get it in your wallet, it’s not easy to pull out, and the effect doesn’t look quite as sharp once the top of the drop has been ripped off.
Cost. Business Cards can get very expensive when adding colors to both sides, die cuts, or special materials. It can be easy to get carried away. Keep the initial purpose in mind and try to stay as simple as possible. The cluttered card may convey a lot of information, but it also conveys two other things: your business is messy and, more importantly, the purpose of a business card is to contact you. If the card says everything you have to say, no one need use it to contact you!