It’s an age old tradition; almost every business related meeting or chance encounter starts out with a ceremonial exchange of paper – the business card. This interaction has become so much of a routine that it’s very often overlooked as the great brand value creation opportunity that it is. Underestimating the value of this interaction for your business or brand could mean the difference between someone remembering your services when they actually need them – the difference between gaining more business or being forgotten.
If you’re comfortable with continuing to create free desk drawer liners for your large list of contacts at two cents a pop then you may want to stop reading this now. This post is dedicated to leveraging great design and the best creation methods available for generating unforgettable meetings and encounters.
@boldhive: What's most likely to happen to a business card after you receive it?
Many people in the business world have always thought of their business card as simply a means to exchange information. For most businesses and certainly service oriented companies your business card may be the only physical item a prospect or client ever touches that represents your brand. If this is even remotely accurate for your business, why would you ever squander this event by handing over a hastily designed and cheaply printed piece of paper? It will either find its way into the nearest recycling bin, be tucked into a George Costanza sized wallet full of cards or thrown into a drawer never to be looked at again. Why not create a card that helps tell your brand’s story, stands out in a crowd and creates a conversation?
If you’re still reading this you may have already realized that your current business card is a mess or at least you could be doing a lot better job of leveraging interactions with a card to help communicate part of your brand’s story. To some this can seem like an overwhelming project, but it all starts with great branding that is easily distinguishable (more importantly memorable) and communicates a bit about your brand’s story or services if possible. Working with a professional designer (whether it’s with Bold Hive or someone else) is a great place to begin. A good branding package will help you develop a mark that you can use on business cards and other media to promote your brand – but it’s not the only important aspect of related to design for your cards.
Once your branding systems are in place you should have a great outline of what version of your logo should be used on your business card, and what typeface to use for contact and other information on the card. If you’re working with a designer that can also handle the layout of the card it would be a good idea to get them involved in this process as well.
What to print on?
There are a plethora of options when it comes to what to print your business card on. From the thinnest of papers to plastic, wood or even etched glass, there are enough options to make your head spin. Picking a canvas that will stick out in a stack is a good thing, especially if it feels different in hand, but straying too far outside of the box could spell disaster for the overall message of your business card. Stay away from trendy plastics or goofy shapes unless you’re absolutely confident in the overall design. Picking a nice heavy weighted paper in square, rectangle or simple rounded shapes are a great place to start – just don’t layout your card’s design until you know what you’d like to print it on.
So you’ve decided to go with a nice paper card? Good choice. The paper you choose is going to determine how your card feels in hand when it is received (and will tell a lot about your brand whether you want it to or not) so choose wisely. For many projects (if the budget is flexible) we prefer letterpress cards from Igloo Letterpress right here in Columbus, Ohio. Here are some thoughts from renowned shopkeeper Beth Dekker over at Igloo Letterpress on impressions, paper choice & design.
The business card is one of the most important parts of your company brand. Often, it is the ONLY part of your brand that people see or touch (sound familiar?), so it is vital that the seemingly insignificant piece of cardstock makes a good impression. It is the physical embodiment of your "elevator speech" and it has to speak volumes, besides just your basic information.
Choosing the right style for your cards is difficult because the options are almost infinite, and not all are suited to each brand. We specialize in letterpress printing, and will be the first to say if we believe that engraving, offset, foil, or screenprinting might work to better represent your company. But if you do choose letterpress, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. The paper is often the largest part of the design; it can be smooth, textured, thick or thin, and the design must go hand-in-hand with it. If depth is what you're looking for, thick 220# cotton paper is the way to go. We love to print on Crane's Lettra or Reich Savoy, which each come in a few shades of white. The Lettra is going to have more "tooth," or texture, to it, and the Savoy will feel smoother, and prints with less "saltiness," the white showing through the ink. French Paper Company is our go-to for more contemporary styles and colors, and is a more compressed feel - the bite into the paper will be more subtle, but the lines will be crisp and clean.
2. The design of your cards is going to greatly affect the depth of the impression (which is the type or images pressing into the paper) and the appearance of the ink. We can get a deeper "bite" with serif fonts, thin weights, and fine lines. Sans serif are boxier and appear to not deboss into the paper as deep. Fine lines are a great way to go to show off the thickness of the paper and the depth of impression.
3. The art of letterpress truly shines in color choice, but the number of colors also directly determines the price of the print project. Letterpress inks are transparent, which means the paper makes a great deal of difference in the final product in how color interacts with color. Layering two or more color runs to create a third one where they overlap is one of the most unique, impressive, and fun ways to play with letterpress design, and also test your color theory.
By far - the most important thing to question when it comes to business cards is: How can it be a true extension of your brand? If you can answer that with a fantastic letterpress card, great! If not, we can help you find something that will.
Want to see more letterpress action?
Check out this press check from our recent project with Igloo here.
Some businesses have less flexible budgets, need card orders fulfilled quickly, but still want a quality paper and printing process. Never fear – there is a solution. Out of all the internet based business card sources we definitely prefer working with the fine folks over at Moo. With a seemingly endless array of paper choices, printing options and supplemental products Moo has quickly established itself as the go to partner for design savvy entrepreneurs. Moo offers standard business cards, luxe premium business cards, stickers, post cards (standard and luxe paper), minicards, greeting cards, gift cards, and some are even NFC compatible.
One great feature of Moo business cards is their multiple design print feature. You can print up to 50 different designs on the back of your card in a single order. The creative possibilities with this are endless. From coupon codes to showing off your company’s work you don’t have to think long before you can come up with a handful of clever uses for this great Moo feature.
One final feature of Moo worth highlighting here are their unique business services. If you have 10 or more employees this is a great option to expedite your card orders and reorders. Moo will make it as easy as a snap of the fingers, designs are preserved and all you have to do is edit personal information on each card every time you need a new set - like magic.
No Two Cards Alike
If you’ve start with a great design and a well thought layout for your card and use some of the great printing resources available to business owners these days, you’re bound to end up with a memorable card that’s easily recognizable in a business card lineup. Please share in the comments your current card design or some of your favorite designs from other companies around town. We’d love to see them and share with everyone.
*Photo credit Jaaron Farr