Business Card Designs that Work

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June 20, 2013

I have seen thousands of business cards in the last 25 years.  Between you and me, most of them don’t leave an impression.  For most people, they are an after thought; especially in the age of V-cards and contact transfer by “phone bumping”.  I was recently handed a business card that made me stop and take notice.  You can imagine my joy when I realized it was a card that had been produced at NextPage. Let me tell you more…

Keep in mind that business cards allow you to make an instant impression about your business without saying a word. During the 17th Century business cards were used to announce the impending arrival of prosperous and aristocratic people. Today they can be a powerful marketing piece to get in the front door with prospects.

When retail and restaurant design and engineering firm Larson Binkley moved to a new location, it redesigned its business cards. CEO and President Chris Larson charged his graphic designer to create a card that reflected that his employees were experienced engineers. Larson describes his employees as experience engineers because they focus on the experience a person has in a space they design related to the heating, cooling, lighting, power and plumbing systems.

“We needed something about the cards that is experiential. They had to be easy on the eye and have a nice tactile feel. We also wanted our cards to show creativity and to reflect our understanding of what a business card should be today,” explains Larson.

Larson said his company’s previous business cards were colorful but lacked space to scribble a note or two. He says the text size and type on the old cards weren’t friendly and contained too much information. The back of the card was a black background with white letters (dark, gloomy) and was essentially wasted space.

“It didn’t speak to our core values of sustainability, creativity and purpose,” said Larson.

Using 4 Graphic Elements to Achieve Corporate Image Goals

Larson Binkley’s graphic designer Adam Walker with Sandweiss Koster addressed all the issues that existed with Larson Binkley’s old cards and what they wanted in their new cards.

Walker created a highly-complex print project after much research learning who Larson Binkley was and what they offered. The final result is a double-sided card that showcases sophistication and elegance on the front side and innovation and energy on the back of the card. Here’s how Walker used white space, typography, color and AV coating to build a class image for Larson Binkley.

White Space Usage

Walker used ample whitespace on the front of the card electing to not include a mailing address or general office number (direct line only). He showcased the company logo using silver foil and embossing. His use of whitespace would be applauded by other designers that understand the power of leveraging white space.

“Another element to consider is more whitespace is generally associated with sophistication while less whitespace is often associated with cheap design. This helps explain why so many business cards take the simplistic approach and include the basic text, a lot of whitespace, and maybe a few engaging graphical or design elements.”

Typography Selection

Walker chose Trade Gothic font for the front and back of Larson Binkley’s cards. The cards were printed digitally (while there was on option to use variable print to print the names an titles, the file was not set up that way) with six spot colors and a soft-touch aqueous coating on top of the cotton paper to give recipients a stop and take notice smooth feel.

“They all have a completely different vibe, right? One trick for picking a font is to type out certain characteristics you think the font might possess in that specific font. Is it fun, energetic, tense, etc.?

“Seeing the words in the font they potentially correspond with will help you determine if it’s a good match. Also, consider if you can identify the opposite mood of the font. If you can’t, that probably means it’s not very clear and you can pick a better option.”

Impact of Color

While it’s possible to color wash the entire business card or print a lighter ink on a dark colored stock, Walker decided to use color as an accent instead of a show stealer. He used Pantone 2196 out of the newly released Pantone Plus Series — never before released Pantone colors to celebrate the company’s 50year anniversary.

Larson Binkley’s logo was presented in a foil embossed rather than a bright color, which Larson said he liked because to him it reinforces a grey-ghostlike imagery and that ties to the company working invisibly in the background to build out a business’s space.

Print Coatings Can Provide the Finish Touch

If you’re redoing your business cards, don’t neglect to explore the value a special coating can add to the impression your card makes. While aqueous coatings were originally designed to prevent darker cards from showing fingerprints, new coatings are now available on the market. Larson Binkley elected to have a soft touch aqueous coating applied to their business cards. The coating provides a velvety smooth feel to the card that Walker and Larson believe reinforces how smooth it is to do business with them.

With the addition of extra colors, a foiled embossed logo and an extra finishing touch, Larson’s business cards were not inexpensive. Larson is a firm believer that a company shouldn’t compromise where it matters and that business cards and collateral materials should reflect who you are. “Our new cards reflect quality, value, sustainability and creativity,” says Larson.

More Business Card Ideas

Check out these creative business cards that use the design of the card to emphasize the service being delivered.  Poole & Hunter’s card shows they are in the tailoring business with the clever bow tie die cut. Divorce attorney James Mahon printed his card with a perforation down the center showing he helps husbands and wives split up – even implying to give the husband one half of the card and the wife the other.

Tok & Stok, an office furniture company, produced business cards that convert into a chair that can sit on the client’s desk with their name and contact information.

Here are a few more well-designed business cards that do the heavy lifting in the introduction of your company.

What do your business cards say about your company? Ask a colleague at your next business luncheon. You might be surprised to learn what they say.

SOURCE: The Psychology of a Well Designed Business Card (and How to Use it to Your Advantage), Life Hacker.

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