You just can’t do business in person without a business card. It is an essential marketing tool that delivers a message to your contacts about the kind of person or company that delivered it (and the kind of person expected to read it).
The most important element of the card is that stylistically, it fits with the brand identity of your company its services and/or products. Next to that, it should communicate critical information; generally, the company name, card holder’s name, and some method(s) of contact. I like to think of the card as a miniature billboard. A good rule of thumb is to limit the text to as little as possible: usually between four and eight short lines of text.
In choosing the right business card, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it will be touched. Paper/ material choice is important. If your company is positioned as a luxury brand, then the card should be printed on a luxurious medium, along the lines of 130 lb. Cougar Cover with a smooth finish and embossment or foil stamp. In contrast, it would make sense for a company with an environmental focus to sport cards with a matt finish on a material with high recycled content or renewable crop content (kenaf, bamboo, organic cotton, etc.)
Formal elements such as font, line, shape, color, texture, balance, emphasis, unity, positive and negative space should also be considered as part of the design process. If you are lucky enough to have company style guides, they are useful in guiding the design process. If not, an existing identity system can be inspirational. However, there are times when the card must be designed from scratch- which can be very fun.
In designing from scratch, consider your business’s industry. For example, if you are in social marketing, then you’ll want to include links to your various platforms. High tech industries are generally paired with a sans serif font, and many businesses are becoming very creative in terms of differentiating their cards: such as a cleaning service with a clear plastic card.
Some general trends in business cards include a move away from the use of images in favor of minimalistic design with an emphasis on the logo (notable exceptions are in real estate and photography). There is also a growing tendency toward untraditional shapes; die-cuts, stickers, square cards, landscape cards and rounded corners. Some of the most creative are in a slideshow at this link.
How do business cards work for you? If you have found a particularly effective way to use them in your business communications, please leave a comment.
Other helpful links for business card design and use are: