The Do's and Don'ts of Creating the Perfect Business Card
Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh, my God. It even has a watermark.
— American Psycho
We at Rocket Matter just came out with a new logo. That’s great!
But as a result we had to change our branding on our website, e-books, banner ads, mugs, water bottles, wall, t-shirt, and a whole monumental checklist of items.
That’s … not as great!
One of the items we had to makeover was our business card. And after years of trade shows, hobnobbing, networking, and generally being the awesome legal software people that we are, we know what these little tools can and cannot do. Furthermore, as Internet hipsters, we are wise in the trends of technology and printing.
We have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to our pursuit of the perfect business card. There are some major #FAILS you want to avoid and major DO’s you want to embrace.
DON’T: Use a QR code
This is a big, big no-no people. Having a QR code tells the world, “I’m trying to be hip to technology, but I don’t really understand its practical application.” If you have a QR code on your business card, may God have mercy on your soul.
QR codes, you see, KILL KITTENS.
DO: Use an easily readable font that doesn’t clash with your logo
Don’t get fancy. Make sure you use easily readable fonts. That means size and style need to be legible for your target user and for the scanners and iPhone cameras your card is going to be run through.
I don’t care if you choose a serif or sans-serif typeface. The most important thing is legibility and congruency with your branding.
DON’T: Use UV or other glossy coating
People like to write on business cards. A glossy coating will eliminate the ability for gel rollers and fountain pens to record notes on the card. A lot of people take pictures of cards to use them with an app such as Evernote, and a UV coating increases the risk of a nasty flash reflection.
DON’T: Crowd the design and remove all white space
From a graphic design perspective, you want to control where the eyeball looks by flow and composition. Having a cluttered card with too much information or graphical elements is going to create a nauseating experience for the recipient.
In addition, too many elements on your card can crowd out valuable real estate for jotting down notes. When someone jots down notes on your card, it’s going to help them remember you, so try to encourage that behavior as opposed to shutting it down.
DO: Include a picture
Here’s the business card workflow: someone is going to accept your business card, either in physical form or they’ll take a picture of it. Then weeks will go by and you will have absolutely no recollection of the encounter.
If you have a picture of a person, you will remember them and the joyous few moments you spent together. Include a picture of yourself so that you can jog someone’s memory of you down the road.
DO: Understand your audience when selecting a design and cardstock
Are you hoping to represent tech entrepreneurs? Consider getting an off-size or specialty business card created by a hip designer. Have it printed on thick cardstock. Look at getting Moo Cards, for example.
Serving lawyers, like us? We need to stay a bit conservative, especially now that Rocket Matter is no longer ONLY courting early technology adopters.
Take a look at your potential clients’ business cards. That should give you an idea of what you want to shoot for stylistically. Speak their language, so to speak, business card-wise.
DO: Consider using the back of the card
With today’s printing technology, a four-color, two-sided business card can be purchased inexpensively. GotPrint, the supplier of Rocket Matter, charges $27 for 1000 cards with those exact specifications. Just make sure it’s obvious to a three-year-old which side is the front and which is the back. A common convention is to simply put the logo on the reverse of the card.
Putting it all Together
You can see the result of our new business card below. The new one is on the right. It includes my picture, plenty of space to write a note (i.e. “MET THIS IMBECILE AT ABA TECHSHOW”) and strong branding on both sides. There is no QR code, thank you very much, and the finish is matte. The reverse has our logo and our core purpose, “Making the Lives of Lawyers a Whole Lot Easier”.
Suffering from a lame-o business card? Email me a picture of what you got and I can make a couple of suggestions. Put “BUSINESS CARD” in the subject so I know it’s not spam.