When thinking about business branding, it can be easy to forget the little things. I’m talking about the really simple stuff here – creating a consistent brand image requires some serious attention to detail.
Business cards don’t seem like a big deal. People hand them out like candy. Maybe you didn’t think you needed them because you do most of your work online. Or maybe you thought your website and social media accounts were enough to give people the information they need.
However, business cards can, and should be, an important part of business branding. They can’t give people all the information about you and your business. But they are a tool, and failing to have them is a major missed opportunity.
Business Cards as a Networking Tool
Not everyone enjoys, or is good at, networking. In this highly digitized age, in-person networking has become less essential in some ways. Yet, meeting new people is always an opportunity to share what you do.
Whether you encounter people in the context of your business dealings or in social situations, you should have a business card at the ready. After all, what is more impactful – an email address scrawled on a napkin or a professionally printed business card?
Obviously, it’s the latter. The napkin is almost certainly going to get thrown away or lost. The business card, on the other hand, will be gently placed in a wallet or purse. The recipient might not look at it right away. They may not even think about it until much later. But when they do, it will be there, waiting.
Why Just Any Old Card Won’t Do
And speaking of professionalism, there are some important things to keep in mind when getting your business cards ready. A business card – like your website, your social media accounts, etc. – is part of business branding as a whole. If it’s conspicuously cheap or haphazardly designed, people will notice.
Designing a high-quality business card that represents your business well isn’t especially difficult or time-consuming. But do put a bit of effort into considering what type of card you want and what information to include.
Your efforts will not be wasted. You can get 500 or more cards printed at once. Unless you are a super-networker, that should last you a while. So spend an hour or so putting it together well, and you shouldn’t have to worry about it again for a while.
Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Business Branding Card Design
These are just some quick and dirty tips to help you ensure your card works for your overall business branding effort. Above all, remember that while you don’t want your card to be boring, you don’t want it to be over-the-top either. There may be a few exceptions for those whose branding strategy hinges on ultra-creativity across the board. For most though, focus on content and simple design elements.
- DO stick with standard business card sizing. 3.5 x 2” is the perfect size to fit in most wallets. And you’d be hard-pressed to find business card holders for non-standard shapes and sizes.
There are mini-sized cards out there, but these don’t stick up out of a wallet’s slots, and are thus likely to get lost. There are also round, oval, and other different shapes available. These should generally be avoided for the same reason. If you really want your card to stand out, you can choose curved edges or special embedded design elements.
- DON’T go for freebie business cards. There are websites out there that offer 50 or 100 free business cards. However, I would encourage you not to use these offers unless it’s the only way you can afford business cards. And business cards aren’t even that expensive. So please, suck it up and spend twenty bucks or so.
The main reason I say you shouldn’t opt for the free cards is that you’ll get stuck with the printing company’s logo on them. You want to be forwarding your own brand image, not advertising for another company. Free deals also give you the cheapest card stock and limited design options.
- DO think carefully about the information you want to include on your business cards. You should be including essential information that can be conveyed simply.
Essential information will probably include your name, title, phone number, and email address. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, you should list your address. You may also wish to include a brief description of services offered, your website, and/or your LinkedIn profile address.
- DON’T jam your business cards so full of information that they become cluttered. If you find that you have to use a tiny font to fit everything in, it’s time to make some cuts.
- DO upgrade your paper and choose an attractive (but not busy) design. Like all your business branding efforts, your cards are a reflection of what you do. Special features like metallic accents and raised print give a luxurious impression without being distracting.
- DON’T use the back of the card for essential information. You may choose to leave the backs blank so you can write on them. Or you might use the space for your logo. Other ideas include a graphic related to your business, a picture of yourself, or a quote.
Whether you use a template, design your own, or hire someone to create your business cards, a little effort and money go a long way. If you skip the cards, you’ll kick yourself when you meet someone who’s interested in your business. Don’t put yourself through that! If you need inspiration, a simple search will bring up tons of examples.