How to Design A Business Card: A Step-By-Step Guide
Design by: Shakil Rahman
“Good design is like a refrigerator – when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it sure stinks.” – Irene Au
Trillions of cards are being printed at this very moment. But only a handful of them will find their way in files saved carefully in drawers, or at the back of frames so they’re never lost. But what makes those cards worth saving and not the rest?
This is your job, as a designer, to ensure that your business card not only stands out but is worth saving, worth carrying around in wallets. It’s styles that come and go. But effective designs last longer, and so can a business card designed effectively.
To Start Off With…
When looking to make a business card you need to decide if you want to hire a professional designing company or design the whole thing from scratch yourself using online templates. There are many helpful card making platforms and softwares you can use, such as Canva, Vistaprint etc.
Such platforms offer customizable templates to work on and convert into a fully developed business card you can then get printed.
Once you know how you are going to go about it, you need to use a business card concept and practice a safe design based on it.
Are you trying to sell? Are you hiring? Is it a brand promotion? A campaign set-up? An effective business card can be simple, but significant.
However, before you start designing your personal business card, contemplate on the sort of content you need to share through this 4-inch wide piece of paper; for after all:
“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” – Jeffrey Zeldman
Fundamentals of Business Card Design
Before we go waltzing off into the details of how to make your business card, there are some fundamentals of design you need to bear in mind. They are as follows:
Design by: Sam Calvert
This is the first and foremost element which will get your card noticed from afar. It attracts people’s attention before all else. The psychology of color is interesting, but a great marketing tool, too…if you know how to use it to your advantage, that is.
Reports claim that cards colored brightly are ten times more successful as compared to simple, white ones.
The color palette you choose for your business card should contain four colors because the printers that will be used to print out your card typically use CMYK color scheme.
If you already own a brand logo, use the same colors on your card. It will add to your brand image as reflected by your business card.
Whichever colors you end up going for, make sure they:
– enable text readability.
– are not too bright nor too dull.
– compliment each other.
Design by: Sarah Embaby
You need to give it quite some thought when it comes to designing the texture of your business card. After all, this is one of those things which will make people remember you by making your card stand out.
Most printers these days offer special finishes that help shine the spotlight on your card. You can choose a texture from an array of artsy ones, the common ones being:
Design by: Rachel Lewandoski
You must already have an idea of what embossing is. From t-shirts to coins, a lot of everyday items come in an embossed texture these days.
Most companies get their business logos embossed on their business cards. It attracts attention and leaves a lasting impression.
Design by: Cate White
This texturing technique is the exact opposite of embossing. Instead of making certain areas on paper “pop,” letterpressing pushes down those areas, inking it simultaneously.
It gives off an engraved texture to the surface of the paper. This is a great tool if you want to give heightened gravitas to certain letters on your business card, such as your brand’s name.
Design by: Sam Jarvis
Doesn’t the shiny aluminum foil catch your attention when you see it being stripped off of something? Or its chunks covering pieces of chocolate? Some even like it so much so as to collect it, like one collects seashells.
Images or other parts of your business card can also look just as catchy through this texturing technique. Foil stamping can also be used to accent text, given that you have set a bold typeface.
Spot UV Coating
Design by: Shlomi Kramer
If you want to keep your card’s texture on the down-low and wish to go for something simple yet aesthetic, this is the texture type for you. It will create just the right amount of varnish upon your card’s surface to make it look smooth and highly professional.
However, this technique only applies varnish-like material to some parts of a business card, like logos, certain kinds of graphics and words etc. The spot UV coating is only to be used when you need certain areas on your card accented.
Only choose it if you are sure the shiny look it will impart is going to compliment the color scheme of your business card. Otherwise, it will just be a sight to avert eyes from.
Design by: Metal Business Cards
What most people fail to recognize these days is that when it comes to design, details don’t just remain details. They become the design altogether. Just as color and text have whole psychology behind it, so does shape.
Oval shapes convey a more friendly tone, whereas squares are more inclined towards the professional, business end.
There are infinite shapes you can have your business card cut into, such as animal shapes, which are quite trendy today. Keep in mind, though, that your card is going to be reserved in wallets mostly. Choose a shape that isn’t too sharp or cornered to be mushed or folded.
Design by: Alfred Roukoz
The color, texture, and shape of your business card will never surmount to anything if, in the end, the layout is cluttered. Nothing bores the mind more than a bad layout plan.
You won’t be cramming too much information on your business card anyway. So instead of squishing it all together, or, for that matter, spreading it all out on the card, plan it carefully, neatly.
You can choose from center-aligned text to a marginal one. Whatever the layout you decide to stick with, make sure it leaves enough white space on the rest of the card. Because white space is necessary, too. The content on your card needs room to breathe. White space offers just that.
How to make a Business Card
To make a business card, you need to follow these simple 8 systematic steps:
Select Your Text
Design by: S.Alam
Once you finalize the design fundamentals of your business card (colour, texture, shape and layout), it will be time to brainstorm about choosing the text that is to go on your card.
This is where you have the power to incorporate all the visual and textual elements of your card to make it a memorable one, one that people will instantly see the need to save for later.
While designing a business card, you need to create the right hierarchical balance between the visuals and the text. This is the most commonly used, most appropriate order of information that is given on any business card:
– Name: Because that’s who they call you by, and will remember you by. The format for this varies and is a matter of personal choice. You can give your surname, the initials of your whole name or just the surname and so forth.
– Company name: Because it’s a given, of course. In case of personal brands, the card would just contain your name and the rest of the following information.
– Job title: Because this will help people remember who you are and what you do, how you met and even why it’s worth holding on to your card.
– Phone number: Because of course, communication is inevitable.
– Email: Because it is professional, because it is most people’s mode of communication these days in the business world and because phone numbers can be lost whereas an email won’t be lost so easily.
– Website URL: Because this is one of the more subtle ways of inviting for visits.
– Social media: Because almost every person you will hand your card to is bound to go home and look you up. It’s good for your marketing, too, since the more people know about you and your services, the better.
– Address: Because you will need to draw out potential clients into your office or store.
– QR code: Because even though it is not as much used as the above pieces of information, it is still a shortcut to get your hands on the rest of the data.
– Slogan: Because adding a little personality and charm to the rest of your card’s content will go a long way in making your card stand out.
Add Supporting Images
Design by: Mark Bailey
You might have come across business cards with plain text against a white background, no images. As professional and common as this tradition of designing business cards may be, it is optional.
You can add your own images on your card, to help with the whole making it stand out process. However, the images to go on your business card cannot be random. They need to be:
– In tune with your brand image.
– Comprised of colors that suit the backdrop (the colors in your business card itself, that is).
– Visually distinct.
Depending on the amount of text covering the front of your business card, you can even choose to design a card with imagery on its back. Highlighting images in the form of a faded background is also a common practice while designing business cards.
Try to be creative. Images are the thoughts represented visually. The type of imagery you choose to display on your card is like a tiny window to your soul. A trained mind can see right through you by analyzing your choice of imagery.
Select from Card Materials
Design by: Fong Jayis
This is where many have the chance to get as innovative as possible. Haven’t you ever remembered a piece of clothing by its mere touch? People might keep your business card in mind in much the same way, by its sense of touch.
Sure, the paper is probably going to be your first choice of card material. But let’s think outside the box for a minute. There might just be other funky and unique materials to use for your business card, such as:
– Shiny, antiquey gourmet snacks’ wrappers
– Already textured materials
– High-quality cardstock
– Transparent plastic
…and so much more.
Shape and Size your card
Design by: Edita Choban
The technique of die-cutting is quite in use now when it comes to designing business cards. It lets you cut into your card in any way possible, giving it a brand new look to remember it by.
Keeping in mind how your card will fit in a wallet, you can opt for professional looking, simple-cuts or creative shapes. If you want to take your designing genius to a whole new level, try designing a card in 3D.
The most common business card size is 55 x 85mm, but there are other standards being met as well, which are:
North American Standard: 3.5 × 2 in. (88.9 × 50.8 mm)
European Standard: 3.346 × 2.165 in. (85 × 55 mm)
Oceania Standard: 3.54 × 2.165 in. (90 × 55 mm)
Design by: Designs4you
Typography is rather an umbrella term, which includes the following elements:
What you have to say may very well be worth nothing if you don’t figure out the right way to represent it. Your brand image is heavily dependent on the sort of font you choose to display your texts in.
You might have noticed companies falling in the baby and child products category use funky, childish fonts whereas other brands in the technological products category use a heavy-set, loud font that reflects such brands’ image and their message.
Based on the category of your services, there are a lot of various font types to choose from. A clean, modern sans-serif, an elegant script, a classic serif font – go for the font that perfectly coincides with your brand message.
Decorative fonts and scripts are more appropriate for names and titles etc. Since they are harder to read, reserve them for such headings that are generally to be represented in large-sized fonts.
The standard size for text on business cards is 8ppt. However, you can choose to increase the size of your brand’s name, for instance, while keeping the rest of the text small. Altogether, the sizes should allow for smooth readability.
Colouring certain pieces of text on a business card is a good and effective way of making that information stand out. However, it should not blur out or put the rest of the text colored differently in the back.
Lay Out Your Design
Design by: Chittagong Soft
To lay out your chosen information on your business card, leave room for as much white space as you can. Not just because it allows for greater readability, but also because your target audience needs to know the information is special enough to be represented as such.
You need to organize the placement of the text. If your information is too much to cover one side, use side 1 of the card for the logo, your name and your company’s title whereas side 2 can be used to fill up the rest of the information with.
All the elements mentioned above, from text to typography and texture of your business card, will work together if and only if you design a layout that nurtures them all together in a way corresponding with your brand’s message.
Finalize the Format
Design by: Sergei Pominov
Have you provided all the relevant information correctly? Are there any errors that need to be corrected? Are you satisfied with how the imagery (if any), text and colors look together?
If someone else handed you a card that looks like what your business card looks like at this point, would you want to keep it for a long time? If not, what would have made you throw it out and why? Work on that for your own card.
Print with Bleed
Now let’s break down the card cutting phase into three straightforward steps. These steps are actually card sections that need to exist before you design your finalized business card design.
- Safety Line (0.125 inches from the edge) – this is the border of your card. Anything falling outside of this line will be cut. So make sure no text or image content goes beyond the safety line. Place all the content within this “safe area.”
- Target Line (0.125 inches from the trim line) – as the name suggests, this is the line at which cards are usually cut.
- Bleed Area – this is the outermost section of the card to be removed. Keep a 3mm bleed, in the same color as your card’s background so its edge stays untouched. Only the final design file to be printed, not the design itself, needs to have a bleed.
Business Card Designing Checklist
After you have created your personalized business card, make a checklist for your own sake. This will help you ensure that your business card is not going to meet a terrible fate any time soon, once handed out.
- “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” (Steve Jobs) Can you say the same about your business card?
- Does your card give off an amazing first impression? If it could speak, would you stand a while to listen to what it had to say?
- “People ignore designs that ignore people.” (Frank Chimero) Does your card’s design do so? How can you fix it?
- Have you chosen the most appropriate size and shape for your needs? Is it too little or too less, or just right?
- Does the design fit you and your brand image? Is the look the design give off reflective of your logo? If not, how can you make it so?
- Is your card’s design honest in terms of what it reflects about you and your brand
- Have you added that special touch to make your card stand out?
- Does your business card have additional uses? Is it sticky, so that people will be able to post it on their refrigerators etc and contact you right away?
- Did you consult a designer before getting your card printed?
- Is your website and other promotional material on your card consistent and up-to-date? Is there any redundancy in the information given?
- Did you make good use of advanced techniques, such as avoiding borders or saving money on colors by sticking to the professional yet elegant black-and-white color scheme?
- Does your card include basic design principles, especially the ones related to typography?
- Did you get creative within the constraints? Did you use the space on your card efficiently? Is its shape catchy enough?
- Were common errors avoided?
- Was use of any special finishes made? If not, try some unusual materials like the ones mentioned above!
- Is your card useful, or is it just another piece of paper people will probably end up including in the rest of their paper piles? Can you make it into a miniature armchair for a phone, for instance? Can you design it to act as a pin holder?
- Did you double-check your artwork? Is it what you aimed for, or something better?
There are many ways to go about designing your own business card. In today’s competitive world where business cards are being handed out to and fro, creating one that won’t be tossed in the dump soon afterward is tricky. But with basic design principles and creative visions, it’s pretty doable.
I have shown you the step by step guide about how to make a business card for yourself or your company’s employees. I know it might be a bit confusing to someone with no designing experience. So if you any questions regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to help you in any way we can. But if you think that you don’t have that much of time, you can benefit from our designing services. All you have to do is tell us what you want and we will take care of everything else from designing to printing and shipping your business cards to you. Yes, it’s that simple!