What makes a business card effective? Is it originality? Legibility? Simplicity?
Perhaps it’s how your card prompts the recipient into contacting you. A clean, uncluttered design shows that you care about appearance and immediately sends out a professional vibe.
First and foremost, your card must clearly show your contact details. That’s the priority. Even a poorly designed card must allow people to contact the owner. Kind of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many cards hide the contact info behind some over-indulged colour scheme or illegible type.
Size deserves a mention. If your card doesn’t fit into a holder or wallet it won’t be kept close-by.
What about a gimmick? Here’s an original idea that doesn’t use card stock.
It belongs to Poul Nielsen, a certified personal trainer and fitness consultant in Toronto, Canada. Just reading his name is a light workout in itself! Poul seems like a top bloke, so it’s a shame his personal trainer website isn’t quite as unique.
You want your contact details to be obvious without any catch, so I’m split about Poul’s card. Sure, it’s original, and works excellently for the industry, but it doesn’t make the information apparent at first glance. What happens if the prospective client is missing a thumb, or arm? Of course he could always hand this card out personally and have a back-up for such occurences.
How much should conventions be challenged, and does it depend on the industry?
Take a funeral director for instance. I tried to think of a profession where you want to be subtle in your sales pitch. Being subtle doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good design for a ‘plain Jane’ finish.
A funeral director wants to sell his/her most expensive headstone or coffin. Why not print the card with a subtle marble or oak-effect behind the text? Gloss laminate the substrate for a smooth finish perhaps?
Mark Boulton was recently asked, “What makes a good business card?” He wasn’t sure, but his readers make some interesting points in the comment thread.
Update: December 2011
Comments on Mark’s post have since been removed.
One commenter, Zach Inglis, thinks your business card should be, “Clean, crisp, readable, rememberable.” He makes a good summary, even though I’m sure he meant ‘memorable’.
I came across a post about cartoons on business cards. For me, this one depends on the message of the cartoon and the industry being designed for. There were some nice examples, and I’ve shown a few below.
I’ve also written a little about the process behind my personal business card.
Terry Tolleson believes that a business card should (at the very least) contain three elements (in order of importance):
- Contact information
- Company name
- Visual identifier for the company (a logo for instance)
“Regardless how flashy or clever your card is, if contact information is not readily available, or quickly processed, the card failed. What does it matter if someone remembered some neat trick the card does or how nice it looked if they find a hint of difficulty acquiring your information from it.”
— TERRY TOLLESON
I agree, which is why I have reservations about Poul Nielsen’s card.
For more business card inspiration, have a look at my blog category on business cards.