How to make business cards that people won't throw away.
Let’s confront the issue head on. Most business cards are boring. They follow a standard structure and design. You hand them out at professional networking events, the recipient gives them a casual glance, at most. If you’re lucky, they make it to the wallet – but more often than not, their resting place is the bin.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Now we want you to consider another scenario. You hand over your business card and the recipient comments on it. You have a further conversation about how clever it is. Then they hold on to it to reference later. Sound better?
Because, while many people believe that business cards are becoming irrelevant, really they are dying because we’re letting it happen. The truth is, people still like business cards, especially when they stop them in their tracks.
There are other, even more rewarding benefits to creative business cards that make a great impression. Maybe the person likes it so much, they show it to their colleagues; inevitably, this puts you and your brand in front of even more prospects. All it takes is a little creativity, and you can change the fate of your card – and possibly your business. So how can you do this? Here are our top five suggestions.
1. Go big on design
There are a number of design elements you could experiment with to make sure your business card makes the right impression. Some simple design changes can take your business card from forgettable to fantastic.
The first is to go dark… or use colour - in fact, anything but white. Because most business cards are printed on white paper and use black ink (yawn) they are destined to blend in with the rest of the business cards on the bulletin board, or in your contacts wallet.
Could you design your business card on a dark background? Or print it on a coloured stock? Investigate the wide range of inks that are available. As long as you work within the confines of your brand identity, and you have enough contrast (be careful not to choose a background that you like while ignoring the fact that the letters blend into it).
Some key points to understand about contrast are:
- On a black business card, white text will show up most effectively.
- If using a red or warm shade, light shades will be nearly invisible.
- Remember, coloured backgrounds can make the text more difficult to read and may require an increase in size, bolding, stroke, width, or spacing.
- When in doubt – keep it simple!
2. Change the feel
Stock cards get boring quickly. But that doesn’t mean paper is cancelled. There are plenty of options for making your business card more exciting. You can experiment with embossed elements, spot UV, or even a more raw, natural cardstock.
Some of the best options to change the feel of your card include:
- Gloss or matte business cards
- Embossed business cards
- Foiled business cards
- Spot UV
Embossed cards use a process where the images or text are pushed from the other side of the business card, creating a raised surface on the front.
Turn up the wow effect with metallic business cards. Shimmering foil business cards can deliver a memorable, sophisticated look and feel.
Add unrivalled vibrancy with spot UV, which adds a visual effect and extra luxury feel.
Of course, if you want to be even more adventurous, another option is to change material altogether. Plastic is becoming increasingly popular as a material for business cards, due to its durability. But really, any material other than paper will differentiate you from the competition and naturally steer the conversation toward yourself and your business. From metal to cork, the options for experimentation are endless.
3. Explore different shapes.
Who says your business card has to be the industry-standard rectangle shape? Of course, it’s probably the cheapest solution. But unless “cheap” is part of your brand identity – and we’re guessing it’s not – then it may not be the best option. So why not experiment?
Business cards can be any shape. Square. Even round. Or at least with rounded corners. Small changes and non-traditional shapes are eye-catching and create a unique and memorable first impression. Consider if there is a shape that you could tell a story around. If you sell toiletries, could it be the shape of a soap? If your service or business is sports based, maybe a rugby ball? As long as it has relevance, it’s a great conversation topic when you hand over the card.
While die cut business cards are definitely more expensive, when you think of the long-term benefits, brand awareness and brand equity, the initial upfront costs may be worth it. Change the shape and people often give positive feedback immediately upon being handed one. A good reason to keep talking - and a great way to ensure your card doesn’t get lost in a wallet.
4. Throw conventional wisdom out.
Making information easier for the reader is a fundamental requirement of good design. However, sometimes it’s good to push the boundaries just a bit with your business cards.
Mixing up the usual “name, phone number, email address” formatting in any way is sure to get people asking you questions. You could include something unexpected - a fun fact about you or your business. Or how about a website link – and nothing else – to create intrigue and encourage people to use it. What about leaving space on your card for people to take notes? You could even start them off with a ‘I think I should work with this person because…” When you are being creative with your card, the ideas really are limitless. Just don’t make the person who receives your card work too hard to get the message.
An important point to add with this approach though, is to be prepared if someone takes the bait and enquires about your business card design. Have your reason and response ready. There’s nothing clever about a creative design without a reason, so make sure you can explain the purpose – this conversation can be used as a great opportunity to show a deeper level of your company and your knowledge.
5. Make it more than just a business card.
Of course, a great way to make your card a definite keeper, is to make it useful for more than one thing. People find it difficult to discard a fridge magnet or a coaster. I don’t know about you, but I would never throw out a bottle opener – even if it just sits in someone’s camping set, it’s a constant reminder of your business. Here are a few ideas that can make your business card usable – and your company unforgettable.
Beer Mats or Coasters
A fun option for a business card, however you run the risk of coffee stains. Having a cup ring on your contact information might be fun or unprofessional, depending on the situation.
Tools and Bottle Openers
Guaranteed to make a lasting impression. If you want to create a business card that’s different from everything else, creating something useful—such as a tool or a bottle opener—might be a good way to go.
Probably the most inexpensive and simple devices, post-it business cards are easy to make but will no doubt serve as a useful daily reminder of your details.
Business cards are not obsolete, and they are a form of connection that can be much more personalised and effective than a thousand emails.
Your business cards are a statement piece of your marketing materials that people can physically hold onto. As one of the only tangible offerings that represent your services, you want a business card that promotes who you are and adds value to your branding. For your business card design to be truly effective, it needs to be one that people actually keep!
If you really want a litmus test on whether your business card is keepable, ask yourself, “If someone gave this to me, would I throw it away?” If the answer is yes, it might be time to adopt a more creative approach.