Business cards, or calling cards, originated in France in the 18th century. Countries such as Japan have proper etiquette around the formal presentation of one’s cards. So, why is it that this standard 2”x 3.5” card remains useful today?
A business card is a highly useful memory aid that can be quickly exchanged between people. Someone may not take the time to review the information right away. But later as a person is entering the information in their contact database is the opportunity to make a lasting impression. Since business cards remain essential today, what do you need for a powerful card.
A Business Card Is An Essential Branding Tool
Just like anything else you might create, a business card must reflect your brand – the face you and your company present to the market. On that small card is the intangible sum of all the brand’s attributes - its name, history and reputation. Anyone holding your card must immediately know who you are, what you do and how it’s different from your competitors.
A Business Card Must Clearly Reflect Your Brand
I have a box on my desk that contains all my favorite business cards. Whenever I start a new brand identity project, I will take a few minutes to look through those cards for inspiration. A business card shouldn’t be created in a vacuum. It should be an essential part of the overall branding program you conduct for your company or yourself. It is usually the second step in the branding process, after the logo is created. It is usually the first piece that extends your brand by using all the essential elements: logo, typefaces, colors and graphics. A successful card will use these elements to convey your brand’s positioning, attributes and story quickly and clearly.
A Business Card Must Contain All Your Critical Information
The first design element I look at is the location of the logo on the card. This is a real test of the strength of your logo. I always like to include a descriptor with my logo which may be as simple as “writer” or “blogger” or as detailed as “a marketing & communications agency.” Some companies include their taglines on a card. I only do that if it’s a really good one or a well-known tagline or if there is ample space as this information is not critical. Next, I add essential information including my name, title (optional), location, phone, email and website. Depending on my marketing program, which might be focused on driving people to my website, I might make certain elements larger or place them apart from the other standard data. Lastly, I include the logos for the social media platforms where I can be found. I generally order them based on importance to my target audience.
Selecting the paper for your card is an important decision. Most people have their cards printed by an online company such as Vistaprint. Choose a heavy stock that allows you to write on the card. People often make notes on a business card so it’s best not to select a slick stock unless there is a strong reason such as a graphic or photo that needs a certain printing process to stand out.
*Side note: The icons that are used by social media platforms show how important it can be to have a mark as part of your logo.
Your Card Must Stand Out From The Rest
I like to make a sample of the card and throw it in the pile of my favorite cards to see if I can find it. One of my recent cards created for my first blog, LaFemmeRose, remains one of my favorites. It was a square, had a colorful edge and a wonderful photo that we used in all the promotional materials. People always remembered it and commented about it.
Your Card Must Always Be With You
You never know when you might meet someone that can be helpful to your business. I carry cards in my wallet as well as a lovely card case. I make sure that I have a card with me even when I am carrying just the essentials. I have made contacts on the beach in Hawaii and in doctor office waiting rooms.
Now that you know the 5 points for creating a powerful business card, take a hard look at yours and determine if it’s time to make a new one. Find a good graphic designer (there are helpful sites such as Upwork or Fiverr) and get started. You never know when you might meet that all important contact.