According to The Design Inspiration, 90% of business cards get thrown away within a week. Reasons include:
• Bland or uninspiring designs
• Design details (fonts, colors, layouts, etc.) that turn off recipients
• Unnecessary or unrelated images
• Outdated details
These problems are endemic and very real. But how do we create effective designs for our business cards? The answer ultimately depends on:
1.) How your market perceives your brand and
2.) How you want your market to react to it.
To help you understand these within your own brand’s context, we’ve asked several designers for business card design tips and insights as well their favorite designs.
DISCLAIMER: The following answers are verbatim.
“My tip would be to create something memorable while keeping the design as simple as possible.”
“My number one tip when designing a business card is simplicity. Don’t over saturate a business card with anything other than the necessary information.”
“A tip for designing a business card is keeping things simple. If it doesn’t add, take it away. Production can add value to your card, but sometimes it’s not in the budget, there are other ways to make your business card memorable. A business card is the first thing that is given to a potential client. It’s what people hold onto and how they remember your company. There should be a lot of time taken to design the cards. Spend time, make it effective, and remember, this is the first piece of work that will represent your company in most occasions, so make this design matter.”
“The best cards are those spark[sic] a conversation once they’re received.”
“When designing a business card, be aware that this will establish the first impression and the standard for the rest of the branding materials. That’s why my advice is to try to have fun and be creative and always evaluate different materials and printing techniques to search for the WOW effect. If your branding idea can fit in a 85mm x 55mm, then it means that it’s simple, clear and strong.”
6. Ryan Mcguire
“The best business card tip I have is to design a card that you’re excited and eager to give out. If you can capture your enthusiasm and passion for your business in a unique and creative design, people’s first reaction to your business card will be, “WOW,” followed by, “I want to work with you!””
7. Rich McNabb
“Include only the most relevant information and remove everything else. Do more with less.”
8. Bea De Jesus
“Know the brand and let the card speak for the brand.”
“A business card to me gives clients a first impression on your work/product/service. It should, aside from giving contact info, also clearly represent what the brand is all about, or who the person is.”
“Detail is more important than information you can find in a business card. In fact, these information can easily be found on internet. The thing which allow people to remember you is the detail (it can be texture, graphic, funny message…).”
10. Levente Toth
“My number one tip for designers is to spend as much time as needed for the idea generation before starting to design anything. With a great card which has a great idea behind you or your client will be most likely contacted and the card will reach its aim.”
11. Justin Marimon
“For me, business cards are about creating something memorable. The simple act of sharing your contact information can be extremely mundane, or the card can provide an experience for the person receiving it. I always try and include at least one unique element. This could be a die cut, metallic ink, painted edges, etc: just something to make the card enjoyable to receive.”
12. Blake Thomas
“First that comes to mind is Lotta Nieminen for her work on Beautified which spanned from business cards, illustrations, app design, and whimsy yet educational brochures. Her business cards perfectly merge illustration, cheeky copy and a vibrant pallets while keeping a clean, minimal look that compliments the brand.
Second would be Ghostly Fern’s personal business cards. Their studio is a small team of incredibly talented creatives and their cards compliment the eclectic, detailed work they create. The gold foil and letter-pressed geometric shapes hint at their quirky nature without taking away the focus on their contact information.
Lastly, would be Sagmeister & Walsh’s Jewish Museum rebrand. The custom typography with the bold, saturated blue gives an immediate impact while appearing to be a natural, contemporary fit for the museum. On the content side of the cards a beautiful illustration of the exterior of the Museum gives the cards a lasting, precious impression. This rebrand exemplifies how even a historic brand can push boundaries to expand its presence and audience to newer generations while retaining their loyal members and visitors.”
13. Eugene Woronyuk
“The main tip in designing business cards is to always keep the readability of the text.”
14. Grant Burke
“My top tip for designing business cards is to keep things simple. It should look good, but more importantly the information should be legible and have a solid hierarchy.”
15. Al Rayhan
“Keep it Clean & Simple. Use only relevant information and use the backside of the card to describe more information like special offers, checklists, services etc. Make sure that all information are easy to read.
16. Max Pirsky
“Experiment with different materials and printing techniques. Have a reason for everything you do and try to keep it simple.”
“A great business card is a card that stands out without screaming out loud. It has to have a purpose and has to be relevant with the company mission, vision and DNA. It has to look great and be simple. The main goal is that you don’t want the receiver to trash it within 5 minutes. And, don’t overkill it.”
18. Eli Horn
“Number one tip on designing a business card: Think first about printing and material, and design for whatever techniques and material you have available for you. A design for offset will be much different than one for digital.”
“The thing about business cards is you hold them in your hand, so it matters how they feel. Other than that, just don’t try too hard.”
19. Dennis Kramer
“My advice would generally be to not try to be too clever; keep it simple, and rely on the unique qualities of printed material to create something special.”
“Keep it simple and short. It should reflect your style and taste obviously.”
21. Ali Sayed
“Before designing a business card, you should sketch it. Then typography and color should be very nice.”
22. Ursula Villalba
“My number one tip in designing a business card: for me the most important thing is to capture the essence of the brand with which you are working, the essence of the client. And then make a striking card, either by colors, finishes, morphology, but I think that to be a striking card makes you want to keep it. Cards in small sizes do this well, I think it’s important to enter into anyone’s wallet. Because of the card don’t match in you wallet, you can put it anywhere and can be lost.”
23. Raluca Comanescu
“Number one tip in designing a business card: try to humanize your business cards by including a face into their design.“
24. Neno Radić
“Well when I start to design business card, first I investigate all about client (his web page, colors and style he like, design MUST match the existing brand design). Then I draw few examples on paper, I sketch it and usually final work has combine elements of all examples. Then in vector program using graphic tablet (I) make digital version.“
25. Menachem Krinsky
“Always think outside of the box (literally). A business card especially nowadays needs to tell a message and represent your business in a moments time. If it’s bland or badly designed the receiver will just toss it out. If it’s beautifully made and well thought out. It can sell yourself without you having to do any talking.“
26. German Torres
“For my number one tip in designing a business card, i don’t know, we think that it’s better to keep it simple and fresh, and choose the right printing method and the right paper.”
27. Claudia Argueta
“Keep it clean, keep it simple, keep it functional. That would be my number one tip.”
28. Henry Han
“A successful business card is only one element of something much bigger. Its style should be established by a style guide that dictates the color choices, typefaces, spacing, and layout that are intended to express the attitude of the brand.
This style guide should be used for all the branding elements of the company, so that when the business card is placed with other marketing tools of the brand, it should feel consistent. Since a business card has limited space, it is especially important to use a precise planning of color choices, spacing, and layout that establishes informational hierarchy, and expresses the intended attitude of the brand. Lastly, since the purpose of a business card is to make people aware of the employee and the company, it is important to slightly incorporate unique, or even shocking elements of the branding that would enable the brand to be quickly registered the mind of the viewers.”
29. Kerby Rosanes
“Your identity, visually present on your card is affected by major fundamental elements of design such as colors and images. It is wise to include a preview of the kind of work you are to offer while keeping your design neat and simple.“
30. Jake Dugard
“Keep it simple. The above mentioned cards are all incredibly simple from a design standpoint. What allows them to grab people’s attention is the execution and the method of production. Adding an alternative method of production (letterpress, stamping, screen printing) or subtle detail can turn a boring design into something exciting.”
31. Tyler Hartlage
“For me the best designed business cards are ones that tell you something about that company without even reading the fine print. I believe the card should reflect the style or approach of that business through its presentation. With that said, I love simple and clean design, but I also like chaotic and eye catching aesthetics, as long as it is structured!”
“Monochrome, simple and lots of whitespace is key to beautiful business cards if you ask me.”
33. Kevin Tresor
“My number one tip in designing business card is the feeling, it’s very important to feel, to encircle what the client has in his mind and see how to make it real. Sometimes you have to be more creative that he was expected to cinve [sic] him that business will be the best for activity sector.”
“I’d say that with designing a business card, you somewhat have to ‘engrave’ your identity, and that you have to have that consistency that belongs to you with everything you design. Oh, and minimal is better, keeping it simple, easy to read, and clean is the way to go, if you ask me.
Hmmm, the only thing I keep in mind that I believe would be a good tip to designing a business card is to imprint your consistency, that identity of you, so that you have that distinctness that would separate your business card from others, if you like boxy and edgy designs like me, and you like to keep things clean and simple, then take the minimalist approach. If you feel like it’s lacking, add a little something to the layout that you think would make people react to it, hopefully in a good way. Find something ‘you’ that would set your business card apart from the others. I added a mock up of what the consistency looks like. Really depends on how a person wants his business cards to be different.”
“Although you quite often hear ‘a project is never finished’, I think the best tip in designing a business card is to get to a point where you can say that it is, and it shouldn’t be iterated any further. Keep skimming content and elements until you’re left with only the essential information in all its elegance.”
36. Martin Diegor
“My tip on business card design: Most business card design tips usually dwell on grabbing attention but most people leave out the part of being able to retain that attention. I usually admire card design that have more use than being a disposable piece of paper. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a “card”. For me, a well-designed concept has more to say about you than your resume, after all, it’s the card that introduces you when you’re not there to do it yourself.”
I think the business card should adhere the “soul” of the logo. Few written information now people uses the internet to retrieve all the information. So the url of the website becomes essential, to be placed on the front of the card, under the logo.
38. Vitor Bonates
“To design a business card the first thing you need to have in mind is how to show the type of your business or skills you have and how do you think people will react to your design. The idea of the business card has to be the most important than any other thing. First think of how to surprise people then you think in other things (content, printing etc).”
Most of the designers we’ve interviewed seem to agree that as far as business card design goes -less is a heck of a lot more. Design overkill will not impress clients who understand what branding and business cards are really all about.
In a world neck-deep in cluttered, downright unfriendly designs, a simple and balanced layout with relevant information can be (and often is) a breath of fresh air.
For most brands, this can definitely be a good thing.
Do you have additional tips for designing business cards? Share your thoughts! Comment below!