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Martin’s ultimate guide to

amazing business cards

“Don’t just create a Business Card.
Create the best Business Card you’ve ever seen that works on every single level.”

You may already have created and handed out sets of pretty good Business Cards in the past.

But have you ever created the set of amazing cards that your business deserves?

Most business owners get at least one crucial element wrong which drains all the powerful potential from the card and can result in a missed opportunity.

This Ultimate Guide explains how to get every single element right and produce a stunning set of Business Cards that will demand attention, generate leads, and do everything that you hoped.

I’ll take you through every step of the process from start to finish with super-simple tips and guidance.

Learn how to get on the right track from the very beginning by considering the tone, style, and objectives of your card.

There are so many different things you could try and squeeze into your design. Get a grip on your initial concept by identifying exactly what should and what shouldn’t be displayed on your card.

Discover the secrets of Graphic Design, including tips and pointers on layout, artwork selection, colour modes and schemes, print resolution, typography and more.

Learn how to prepare your design for printing and choose the right paper stock and lamination options for your card.

Get even more creative with your design by choosing a special format for your card or applying a luxury finishing option that will bring your design to life.

After over 15 years in the print and design industry, I felt it might be useful to put my experience and knowledge to good use by preparing this bumper guide to Business Cards which tells you everything you need to know in one handy place.

I’m hoping that these tips and pointers will help you gain an even stronger chance to put your competitors to shame and produce a card that looks great and works hard for your business. Here’s how…

TABLE OF CONTENTS

STARTER QUESTIONS

One of the most common causes of design failure is getting far too carried away right at the very beginning and diving into the project too quickly without giving any proper thought as to what you want the card to do and what you want it to be.

Before you even think about the sizing of your Business Logo and the positioning of that fancy new graphic of a Panda Bear, you should give very serious consideration to the objectives and the tone of your Business Card.

Don’t panic too much at this stage if you’re struggling to make your mind up or you feel as if you need very specific expert guidance.

If you’re having your designs cooked up by the Martin Print team, we can help every step of the way with brainstorming and practical advice.

But here are a couple of points for you to chew over in the meantime…

The Objectives of My Card

What is it that you actually want your card to do?

You might think that every card is supposed to serve roughly the same sort of purpose, but there can be all kinds of slightly different objectives which can have a big impact on how your card should be designed.

Here are some of the common objectives which your own card may be trying to achieve.

Make a good first impression with a new lead or connection.

Raise awareness of your business, your personal identity and role within the company, or a very specific product or service.

Give prospective new clients your contact details in a format which they can keep handy for future reference.

A Call-To-Action to get directly in touch with an email or telephone call.

Capture a direct new sale.

Nudge new leads into exploring more detailed information on your website or Social Media page.

Encourage the recipient to sign up to your services, connect with your future promotions, and perhaps receive a flyer, leaflet, brochure or catalogue.

A mini-showcase or demonstration of your work.

Promote a discount or an enticing incentive which will encourage the recipient to keep and actually use the card.

Serve as a Membership Card or a Loyalty Reward Card to deliver another enticing reason for the recipient to keep hold of it far into the future.

It’s usually a good idea to keep the main objectives down to a bare minimum, otherwise you risk confusing the prospect with an overload of details and demands all crammed into one design.

If you feel that you have several points to make or several different reasons to hand out a card, a sensible approach is to create a range of separate cards so that each card suits the occasion and nails its true purpose.

As a quick example, a Membership Card or Loyalty Reward Card is a completely different kettle of onions to a standard Business Card and should usually be approached as a separate design project.

Tone and Character

It’s a good plan to get a firm grip on the feel and the spirit of your card before drawing up any concrete design plans.

This will of course largely depend on the nature of your business or the nature of your main objectives.

Exactly what kind of tone and character are you trying to convey to your audience?

Here are some of the most popular approaches.

Professional
A strictly formal approach which suggests high quality, efficiency, and complete expertise.

Luxurious
A sumptuous style and feel which conveys your position in the higher-end of the market and suggests a richer service than your rivals.

Warm & Friendly
A personable design which gets the message across that your business is fully approachable and that your team rarely bite when responding to queries.

Fun
A witty and quirky style can serve as an icebreaker, surprise the recipient and make for a memorable experience which has the potential to be shown and shared with friends.

Innovative
A big twist which bends the rules of traditional Business Card design can often make a hugely dramatic impact.

Direct
No fuss. No whistles and bells. Just a simple design which gets your key messages across.

Showcase
Particularly popular with photographers and artists, but there are golden opportunities to visually demonstrate what you do in many other lines of business.

Functional
A card which is actually meant to be used in some way, either to claim an offer, earn loyalty points, or it may even double up as a genuinely functional item.

You might even want to make your cards edible, but we’ll look at that in more detail in a moment or two…

Of course, there are several million variants on these approaches and I wouldn’t want you to think that your card design has be to slotted into a fixed ‘category’ or theme, but it’s useful to get a good idea of the general tone of your card before moving onto the main design.

WHAT SHOULD MY CARD INCLUDE?

Whilst it’s important to remember to include all the crucial elements and details on your Business Card, it’s equally important to consider what should not be included.

Here’s a full rundown on getting it right and getting it disastrously wrong.

Your Name & Role

A very simple and obvious one to begin with.

A good Business Card should always prominently display your full name, the name of your business, and perhaps your role or title within the company.

If there’s room for a little quirkiness in your field of business, you can even have a little fun by fleshing out your job description into something a bit more creative and original.

‘Head Cheese’ sounds far more interesting and memorable than ‘Owner’.

But do try to avoid cliches such as ‘Guru’, ‘Geek’ or ‘Wizard’ which are now used so frequently that they defeat the whole point.

I’m relieved to say that in 15 years of print and design, I’ve very rarely seen a Business Card that forgot to include the name of the business. Maybe there’s hope for us all yet.

But I’m regularly surprised by the amount of people who forget to include their own name.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the majority of your prospective leads will be more inclined to connect with you if they know your name and what you do.

It works better than just presenting everyone with a faceless Business Card without any real personal identity.

Your Logo Design

A professional Business Card needs to include your professionally-designed Business Logo.

A great Logo should be memorable and distinctive.

It should demand immediate attention but it should also have the capacity to develop into your iconic symbol of trust and your seal of quality.

Commissioning a new Logo is certainly not something to be taken lightly.

This is one crucial slice of graphic design which is going to represent your business on practically all of your future marketing material.

However, it’s not as expensive as you may think to get a fresh and original Logo Design crafted by a team of expert graphic artists.

Check out the full details of the Martin Print Logo Design Service which offers a complete exhaustive package from initial artwork concepts to the final delivery of the professional Logo Design.

Unless you have a wealth of experience in graphic design, try to avoid knocking something up yourself with image-editing software or online tools.Lots of people do this, and the end result never looks good.

This is your one chance to truly impress your audience and stand out from your competitors.

Don’t throw it away with a home-made Logo Design that looks like all the other amateur efforts produced on the cheap.

Which Contact Details?

It’s a good idea to provide a healthy choice of contact methods without getting carried away and filling up your card with unnecessary information.

We all have different preferences when it comes to making contact. Some of us find it easier to fire off an email, others prefer to use the telephone.

Choosing the right mix of contact options for your Business Card will involve giving deep consideration to your own target audience.

Which methods are they most likely to prefer?

I would strongly recommend that you include both an Email Address and Telephone Number if you’re equipped to handle queries effectively via these methods.

You may feel that including a telephone option is largely redundant in the digital age, but some breeds of customers feel much more comfortable talking to a real person.

A Postal Address can be handy in certain cases, but only if there is some genuine value in including this information (for example, if your business is dependent on visitors to your store.)

A Business Card with only a single contact method doesn’t offer any choice to the recipient, and this approach could backfire if they’re not comfortable using the sole method you have provided.

But don’t go overboard by including far too many options which have no real relevance.

Not in a position to deal with telephone calls?

Don’t include your telephone number, it will just annoy people when you don’t answer.

Are your business premises not open to the public?

Don’t include your address, you’ll just be filling up your card with a big chunk of information which has absolutely no value.

Website & Social Media

Including the URLs to your business website and Social Media pages are a good way of encouraging your prospect to explore more detailed information on your products and services.

Ideally, the website domain name should belong to you, and the URL should be short and snappy.

If your website URL is long, unwieldy, and runs to about 17,000 characters, consider using an online URL shortener to make it appear a little more digestible and memorable.

You could also include the full URLs to your strongest Social Media pages which are relevant to your business and are likely to be used by your target audience.

I see a lot of cards which simply display Social Media icons.

They look very pretty but they’re absolutely useless as they don’t include any URL details.

It’s almost as if some people forget that their cards are a physical slice of marketing and not a website screen with clickable links!

If you’re going to the trouble of promoting your presence on Social Media, always remember to include the full URLs to make life easy for your prospective leads.

There’s no need to include a long-winded list of every single Social Media account you’ve ever set up, particularly if some of them haven’t really got going yet.

If you haven’t logged into LinkedIn for months, or you’ve only ever posted about two tweets on Twitter, you can probably leave those off for now.

Maps

If you run a store or a business which is open to the public, you might want to devote a big chunk of your Business Card to a handy map that will help your customers find you.

This could be pulled from Google Maps, or you might prefer to create your own as this will obviously give you more control over the detail.

It’s not really an element suitable for the front of a card design, but it can be a very useful element to position on the reverse side of the card.

I’ll be taking a closer look at the reverse side of your card later on in this guide.

A Map will need to be displayed at a reasonable size if it’s going to make any sense to your customers, and it will take up a pretty big chunk of your card.

Don’t waste that space unless a Map is going to serve a genuine and relevant purpose for your prospects.

Tagline & Call-To-Action

Naturally, you don’t just want to provide details on how a potential new customer can contact you.

You also need to deliver compelling reasons why a potential customer should contact you!

So your card should include a Tagline and a Call-To-Action.

A good Tagline or Slogan should be a short and snappy descriptive sentence which sums up in just a few words why customers should choose your business.

It’s harder than it sounds to come up with the perfect wording and it will usually require a lot of thought to nail your winning Tagline.

Here are a few examples that I’ve used in recent designs for Martin Print Business Cards;

“Really spectacular Design and Print.”

“Beautiful Business Cards designed to generate results.”

“Gorgeous graphic design crafted by professionals to work hard for your business.”

A Call-to-Action serves a slightly different purpose.

It should guide your prospects into taking an immediate next step instead of filing your card away and possibly forgetting all about you.

A good Call-To-Action will be simple and crystal-clear.

It should always carry a degree of dramatic urgency and should begin with an encouraging verb which explains exactly your recipient has to do.

To put it another way, your prospects should always be prompted to call your telephone number, claim your special offer, visit your website or store, redeem your promotional code, follow you on Facebook etc.

QR Codes & NFC

QR Codes and NFC Microchips can deliver an extra digital dimension to your Business Card.

A QR Code is a strangely intriguing graphic on your card which links to a website URL of your choice – usually your own business website or special online promotion.

All the recipients have to do is point their Smartphones at the QR Code to open up your chosen website link on their screens.

It’s very easy to create your own QR Code using widely available and free online tools.

They can be a handy and quicker alternative option for Smartphone users who don’t fancy typing in your full URL.

However, many business owners now prefer the ‘invisible’ functionality and bigger flexibility of NFC Business Cards.

These look and feel like a slightly thicker version of a traditional Business Card but they are embedded with a tiny microchip.

You can configure the hidden microchip to perform a whole range of digital functions when recipients point their NFC-enabled Smartphone at your card.

(The microchip is configured with a simple and free Smartphone App, or you can just ask us to handle the encoding on your behalf when you order NFC Cards from Martin Print).

Recipients of your new NFC Cards could perhaps be directed to your chosen website URL, or you could configure your Cards so that all your crucial details are instantly transferred into the contacts list of the recipient’s Smartphone with just one simple tap.

You might prefer the Cards to place an automatic telephone call, begin composing a text message to your Business, load up an App, play music or video content, bring up a handy Map showing the location of your business, or perform just about any suitable Smartphone function.

Explore my Quick Guide to NFC for further details. It’s easier than you may think.

A QR Code takes up quite a big chunk of space, so only include one if the link leads to something of genuine value or interest.

A prospect may end up feeling annoyed or cheated if they’ve taken the trouble to scan your card, only to find a largely empty website or a neglected Social Media page.

If you’re handing out NFC Cards, remember to mention the NFC capabilities somewhere in the design!

Far too many business owners forget to do this which means that the extra digital functionality of the card is completely missed by the majority of recipients.

GRAPHIC DESIGN

So you’ve got an idea of the objectives and tone of your card.

You’ve roughly figured out the details and elements that your card will contain.

Now it’s time to think about putting it all together in a perfect design..

DIY or Professional Design?

A lot of people think that it’s a good idea to knock up a new design themselves on Photoshop or similar image-editing application.

After all, this approach will save a few bucks, won’t it? Everybody else does it, don’t they?

Well, yes, quite a lot of them do. And this is the whole point.

Unless you’re a professional graphic artist with a wealth of experience, then your home-made design isn’t going to cut the mustard.

Far too many business owners make a lousy first impression with an amateur design that looks anything but professional and creates an instinctive negative feeling about the business.

This might be deeply unfortunate for them, but it gives you a cracking opportunity to stand out from the pack with a professional design that looks great and works.

Your rivals are practically delivering this opportunity to you on a plate with an extra side order of parsley mash and a free sticky toffee pudding.

It costs just $65 for a professional new design from Martin Print, and such a small investment will ensure that your Business Cards pull in more leads and generates bigger results.

CMYK or RGB?

When creating your artwork in software such as Photoshop, you’ll be given the option to work in either CMYK or RGB colour modes.

I would strongly recommend that you always work in CMYK colours whenever possible.

CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow Black, and these are the colours of the four inks used in this offset printing process.

By using varying amounts of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, an incredible number of stunning colours can be produced. Most professional full colour business cards, posters, leaflets, magazines, brochures, and packaging, are all printed using the CMYK inks.

RGB stands for Red Green Blue and is mainly used for the sensing, representation, and display of images on electronic systems, such as televisions and computers.

It’s important to note that there may well be some unwelcome colour variation in your work if a print shop has to convert your artwork from RGB to CMYK.

So it’s generally the best solution to work in CMYK right from the beginning.

(If you still prefer to work in RGB mode, it’s a good idea to at least ‘preview’ the artwork in CMYK mode, so that you can check for any potential issues with colour.)

DPI and PPI

The resolution of your artwork should be set to at least 300 DPI for good printed results on relatively simple images.

Ideally, I would recommend that you set the resolution to 600 DPI for more complex images with text and artwork.

When we talk of either DPI (Dots Per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch), we are essentially talking about the amount of pixels or dots that we can print per inch of your design.

There is much confusion over the usage of both the terms, which is not at all helped by different software packages using the terms in different ways.

To be technically accurate, DPI refers only to the measure of the resolution of a printer. Generally speaking, the higher the DPI, the sharper the printed image resolution.

PPI should refer to the number of pixels actually displayed on your screen, and this is what we are mainly concerned with here – the display resolution.

However, whilst packages such as Adobe Photoshop use the PPI term in the technically accurate way, other popular packages such as Corel Photo-Paint use the DPI term to represent the display resolution – so it’s little wonder that everyone is confused, and that most people use the terms incorrectly.

Check your software manual to determine which option best represents your particular display resolution.

If in any doubt, contact one of our team for further guidance.

Choosing a Colour Scheme

Use complementary colours that tie in with your general business branding, both online and offline.

But try not to get too carried away with brash and over-the-top visuals which could damage the lead-generating power of the card.

It’s usually a good approach to try and stick to two or three colours at most.

Remember that your Business Card has a job to perform. You’re not supposed to be aiming to win prizes in an abstract art competition!

When picking out your palette, it’s worth bearing in mind that some colours can help to convey moods and subliminal messages.

For example, White often means clean, simple, pure, and soft.

Black is often used to represent authority, prestige, luxury and control.

Check out my Complete Marketing Colour Guide to uncover more of the secrets, hidden meanings, and psychological messages behind your colour choices.

Photographs and Illustrations

Making the choice between using photographs or original illustrations will often depend on the nature of your business.

A good photograph can make for an effective background or main design element of the card, particularly if it visually demonstrates your products or services in some way.

After all, if you’re a professional photographer, it makes sense to display samples of your very best work.

A photograph of yourself can also help to deliver a genuinely personal touch to your card, and will help recipients to build up a visual profile of your identity and the human face behind the business.

However, a popular option used on some of the most successful Business Cards is to go with fresh, original artwork created by a professional graphic artist.

Stay well clear of stock images or graphics from generic websites.

Cheap graphics lifted from stock websites will always look like cheap graphics lifted from stock websites!

When you’re trying to impress your audience with a suggestion of good quality and excellence, the winning approach is to hire a professional designer who can craft a totally original creation for your business.

Layout and White Space

It can be a tricky business figuring out the best way of positioning and sizing all the elements you are hoping to include on your card.

If you’re creating your own DIY design, this is usually the bit where you suddenly realise that you’re going to have to drop some of the elements altogether.

(Obviously, a double-sided card with a design on the front and back will give you twice as much space to play with, as I’ll discuss in the next step.)

It’s a good plan to number all the elements in order of importance. This will serve as a handy indicator for the final size of each element.

The focal point of your card is usually your Logo Design and so this will naturally be the largest element of the design.

The elements should get smaller and smaller in size as you work your way down the list.

If your design is a beginning to look a little cluttered, you’re probably trying to cram too many elements into one design and you may have to consider dropping some of the least important elements at the very bottom of your list.

When you try and squeeze too many irrelevant elements into one design, it will become harder for the recipient to pick out the things of genuine value.

White Space is a good thing.

I often say that some of my favourite elements of a great Business Card are the bits with absolutely nothing in them!

Plenty of White Space gives your design more room to breathe, and gives each element a bigger opportunity to be fully absorbed.

If some of your elements are squashed too close together and there’s clearly not enough White Space, you really will need to rethink the design.

You’ll need to be a little more ruthless in your choice of elements if you want to make a card that’s going to be easily digestible and demand attention.

What do I put on the back of my Card?

I would nearly always recommend going for a double-sided design.

Yes, the front of the card will usually attract far more attention, but just leaving the back of the card completely blank seems like such a wasted opportunity.

It’s worth considering the sense of disappointment your recipients may feel if they turn over your card to find a big slab of NOTHING staring back at them.

You’re handing over a product with two sides.

So let’s use every single millimetre to our advantage!

However, a word of warning;

Never include utterly essential information or vital key messages on the reverse side.

The front of your card is the most important side by far, and this is where you need to display all the crucial elements.

But the reverse side of your card provides a great opportunity to enhance and expand upon the key messages on the front.

Here are a few of the smarter approaches to designing the back of your Business Card.

Secondary Paths

Whilst the front of the card should always contain your primary contact details, the back of the card is a good spot for the secondary contact details or alternative routes for your prospects to follow.

These could include your Blog or Social Media page or this could even be the spot to park that QR Code.

Functional and Useful

If your business premises are open to the public, the back of your card is a good place to display your handy map.

You might also want to consider turning the reverse side into an Appointment Card, Membership Card, or Loyalty Reward Card, ensuring that your recipient is more likely to store it in a safe place until they next need to contact you.

However, if you’re thinking along these lines, I would usually recommend creating a completely separate Plastic Card design.

Plastic Cards are an ideal format for Membership and Reward cards, as they come with an huge array of extra options such as signature panels, magnetic strips, thermal numbering and lettering etc.

Special Offers and Discounts

If your special offer is particularly special and the main objective of the card is to promote it, then it probably needs to be mentioned on the front.

But the back of your card is a good place to promote smaller offers, discounts, deals and promo codes.

Your whole card will then become so much more than just a handy pocket-sized contact reference. It becomes something of genuine value to the prospect, something to keep and use.

Expanding your Evidence

Whilst your key messages and taglines should always be conveyed on the front of your card, we can use the space on the back to go into a little bit more detail for those prospects who require further persuasion.

Take the opportunity to deliver useful information and notes on your products and services, extra details which wouldn’t quite fit on the front, or even a small list of testimonials from your existing happy clients.

You have a whole side here to expand upon the compelling reasons why your prospects should connect with your business.

Referrals

A single Business Card could potentially capture more than just one new connection!

Encourage your recipient to recommend your products and services to a friend in return for a small but enticing reward.

Referral programs are a great way of getting your own customers to spread the word on your behalf, and the back of your Business Card is an ideal spot to extend this invitation.

Going Graphical

If you feel that the front side already conveys just about all the messages and details you need to convey on your Business Card, another popular approach is devote the reverse side to beautiful and memorable graphic design.

This does actually throw up a curious conundrum;

Which side is now the front and which side is the back?

Does the back now become the front because of the big graphical elements which seem to be serving as an ‘introduction’?

Does the front now become the back because it appears to go into more useful detail?

Well, it’s not worth getting into a mental wrestling session with yourself over the concept!

In my mind – and I suspect, in the mind of most of your prospects – the side with the contact details will always be the ‘important’ side, with the stunning graphical side simply backing up the crucial information in style.

Font Selection and Sizes

Choosing the right fonts is a hugely important element of a great Business Card design, and is usually best left in the hands of a professional graphic artist.

Don’t go overboard with too many clashing fonts in one design. It’s usually best to stick with just two three different fonts which complement each other perfectly.

Decorative fonts can add a splash of character to a Business Card, but the most important priority is that the text is readable and can be absorbed in a single glance without coming across like a cryptic puzzle.

A common mistake by people who are trying to cram far too much text into the design is to make the fonts too small.

Some small fonts may look perfectly readable to you on a sharp monitor screen, but they could end up being completely indecipherable when printed up on premium gloss stock.

Your own perfect font sizes will largely depend on your chosen layout and the number of elements contained in your design, but a general rule of thumb is that you should never include anything smaller than an 8-point font on your Business Card.

PREPARING FOR PRINTING

Before sending your design to your chosen print shop, there are a couple of steps you can take to avoid pesky gremlins getting in the works and messing up your hard work with a disappointing final result!

Let it Bleed

During the printing process, your design is first printed onto oversized stock, and then trimmed down to perfect size with guillotines.

However, natural little mechanical variations can result in your artwork not quite reaching the edges of the card and leaving a tiny white space or ‘border’ which clearly shouldn’t be there.

So, unless the background of your design is white, you should ideally prepare a Bleed Area which will ensure that your design is printed right to the very edges of the stock.

You’re essentially just pushing out your design a little further to prevent any accidental empty spaces or strips.

To create your own Bleed Template, you simply need to expand your canvas size by around 3-5mm and fill this new area with the background colour of your design.

You can create a border around your main design (as pictured) to help you get an idea of where exactly the guillotines will be performing the final chop.

(Don’t forget to remove the border before sending the artwork to your print shop to avoid the risk of it actually popping up on your final products with potentially messy results!)

If you want certain elements of your design to be printed very close up to the edge, those elements can be forced over the Bleed area for the best results. But this should obviously not include important contact details, information, and key messages.

Don’t forget that if you choose to have your Business Cards produced at Martin Print, you’ll be given a big helping hand with any technical elements that are leaving you baffled, and you can download our own handy bleed templates right here.

Proofreading

It may seem like an obvious step to take, but I’m always surprised by the high volume of designs we receive that contain glaring mistakes which would have rendered the card useless if our team had not spotted it.

Other printing companies won’t bother proofreading your work, and certainly won’t refund your printing costs if they feel that the mistake was your fault.

Rumour has it that one guy placed a huge order for Business Cards with a mean-spirited company who wouldn’t refund his money when he spotted that his surname had been spelt incorrectly on all of them.

Instead of forking out for another huge replacement order, the guy worked out that it would just be cheaper to legally change his own name so that it matched the misspelt version on the existing cards!

That’s a pretty drastic step to take, though.

You’re better off taking out the time to thoroughly proofread every single element of your design before sending it off to the printing press.

PAPER STOCK AND LAMINATION

A lot of big printing companies offer seemingly incredible deals on Business Cards which may sound very tempting…until you check out the details.

In most cases, the ‘incredible deal’ is for a set of very thin, flimsy and unlaminated cards which will barely survive the journey in the post. You’re then encouraged to ‘upgrade’ and pay well over the odds for a set of half-decent cards.

Please don’t go with a cheap and tatty option. You may have created an amazing design but it’s going to look rubbish on thin and flimsy stock.

A good Business Card shouldn’t be produced on anything of lower quality than sturdy premium 400gsm stock, which is the basic standard from Martin Print.

Plastic or PVC Cards are another popular option if you’re seeking something a little out of the ordinary.

These are the same specifications and thickness of a everyday credit card and are an ideal format for Transparent or Frosted Business Cards.

If you’re feeling particularly creative, you might even want to consider having your card printed on textured material, wood, or even metal.

One final option worth considering for the ‘green’ business is recycled paper.

This not only helps to reinforce the message that you are an eco-friendly business, you’ll also be doing your bit to help the planet and cut down on waste.

Lamination Options

Unlaminated cards might be ok for a cheap back-up set of emergency cards, but if you’re looking to make a professional and memorable impression, I would always strongly recommend choosing either Matte Lamination or Gloss Lamination.

Matte Lamination adds a reassuring layer of protective coating which increases the sturdiness and endurance of the card whilst also delivering a sophisticated and tactile finish which is silky smooth to the touch.

So much nicer than just picking up a boring old uncoated card which feels as if it won’t survive five minutes in a wallet.

Gloss Lamination is a little more expensive, but is recommended for a card with a superb design that deserves to get noticed.

Again, the protective coating will extend the lifetime of your card, but the high gloss laminate will also add stunning contrast and sharpness to your design, allowing each element to truly shine and stand out.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the traditional dimensions of a standard Business Card.

There are plenty of cases in which a reassuringly traditional design and shape will be the best approach for your business

But you don’t necessarily have to restrict your creativity by cramming your design onto a card that is exactly the same shape and size as everybody else’s card.

Here are a few great ideas for producing something truly original and distinctive….

Rounded Corners

Business Cards have been produced in that familiar rectangular shape for hundreds of years.

But the only slight concern is that those square edges can often deliver a harsh, stiff, and very serious impression.

Rounded Corners are recommended for any business wishing to express a more warm and friendly feeling to their potential customers.

Folded Business Cards

A simple fold can make such a big difference, and it’s always a delight to see a card that bends out or pops up into an utterly unique shape.
It often works best when the shape reflects the nature of the business in some way.

For example, a stockbroker may choose a card which folds out into a financial graph, a restaurant may choose a card which pops up into a table, or a music teacher may go with a folded card that lifts up like a piano lid to reveal the keys underneath.

Check out some more terrific examples of Folded Business Cards in my Blog article.

Die-Cut Special Shapes

Of course, a Business Card can be practically any shape at all that takes your fancy.

A bakery may wish their card to be in the shape of a loaf of bread or a tempting cupcake, a taxi driver might go with a design in the shape of a car, a photographer may prefer their card to be in the shape of a camera.

The opportunities and ideas are almost endless and you can have a lot of fun in dreaming up a fresh and quirky concept!

It’s worth bearing in mind that if the only purpose of your card is to pass on your contact details for the recipient to store and keep, an unusual shape may prevent your card from fitting inside wallets and pockets.

But a creative die-cut Business Card shape can certainly demand attention and deliver a truly memorable experience for your prospects.

Functional Business Cards

When does a Business Card become more than just a Business Card?

When it doubles up as a functional item!

I’ve seen cheese companies produce cards that actually work as mini-Cheese Graters, I’ve seen drinks companies produce cards that contain a bottle opener, and I’ve even seen a bike repair business produce a card that folded out into a multi-functional bike maintenance tool!

It’s obviously going to cost a little more to produce something this out-of-the-ordinary, but your prospects are far more likely to hang onto your card if it becomes something they can actually use in some way every day.

Edible Business Cards

How about producing a card made from chocolate, candy, or beef jerky?

Edible Business Cards are another fun and quirky concept, although I admit I have my reservations.

My main issue is that they’re not designed to last very long, so they are hardly going to serve as a long-term reminder of your brilliant business.

“Here are my contact details for your future reference! Please eat them immediately and completely destroy all the useful information that I’ve just given you!”

However, whilst it’s not a recommended concept for your main Business Card, it’s an idea which works well for a short-term attention-grabber or limited promotion.

THE BIG FINISH!

Finally, a truly amazing Business Card deserves to be given extra-special treatment to help bring your designs to life.

Here are some of the finishing options which can help bring a dramatic splash of luxury to your card.

Metallic Foiling

This specialist foiling process involves the professional hot stamping of a layer of metallic foil to specific elements of your design for a truly outstanding final look.

Gold or Silver foiling are two of the most popular choices used in elegant business card design, although a huge range of other striking foiling colours are also available.

A Metallic Foiling effect on your logo, artwork, contact details, or any other crucial element of your design will add a luxurious layer of sparkling brilliance to your design.

Embossed

Custom embossing plates are used to raise or ‘push out’ specific elements of your main design for an authentic 3-D textured card..

Embossing your logo or other crucial business details on the front of the card will result in a natural debossing (or ‘pushed in’) effect on those opposite areas on the back of the card, creating a distinctively chunky and textured feel to the design.

This printing technique also works in reverse, so you may prefer the idea of a debossed design on the front of your business card with a matching embossed effect on the back.

Raised Ink

Known in the industry as Thermographic Printing, the Raised Ink printing process will deliver an embossed effect to specific elements of your design, but at a lower price than the true Embossed option.

The stylish effect is achieved by applying a power coating of super-thick ink to the chosen design elements (unlike a truly Embossed card which is created by physically ‘pushing out’ the design elements with custom embossing plates).

It’s a particularly popular choice for double-sided Business Cards with striking designs on both front and back, as this technique will not create natural ‘debossing’ (or ‘pushed in’) effects on the back of your card in potentially awkward spots!

Spot UV

Specific elements of your card design are coated in Ultra-Violet Gloss Varnish, requiring a completely separate specialist print run for your very special Business Cards.

The stunning results deliver a vivid contrasting effect between the different elements of your artwork for maximum impact and the ultimate professional finish.

Gilded Edges

This foil gilding process involves applying a dramatic spot of colour along the edges and sides of your Business Cards.

The stylish result delivers the impression that your unique cards have been dipped into a pot of metallic marketing magic!

The concept works best on heavier card stock, but can also add an appealing extra layer of contrasting detail to thinner cards.

Gold, Silver, and Metallic Red are just three of the most popular choices of foil colour, but your own Gilded Edges can be produced in any vivid colour to suit your distinct design.

Martin’s Last Word

I’ve stressed this before, and I’ll stress it again.

A Business Card is your chance to impress. Don’t throw away this golden opportunity by cutting corners or producing a card that looks exactly like everybody else’s card.

Be amazing and be distinctive.

Here at Martin Print, we love making Business Cards and we love working on fresh designs that look beautiful and work hard.

Get in touch if you’d like to get the creative juices flowing on your new set of incredible Business Cards.

Oh, and here’s one very last nugget of advice.

Once you’ve nailed your perfect set of Business Cards, don’t forget to plan ahead and top up regularly on supplies!

There’s nothing more frustrating than missing out on a crucial chance to connect because you ran out of cards and left it too late to replenish your stock!

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