While our businesses and way we communicate are becoming more and more virtual, the need for a tangible business card seems will never go out of style. Whether you are starting as a freelancer or an entrepreneur, designing and getting your business cards printed is one of the first things in your to-do list – for all the good and important reasons.
Whether you call them business cards, name cards or visiting cards, they are possibly the first marketing tool that you hand out to a prospective client. Quite often, the action or the ritual of handing out your business cards during business meetings, events or networking, provides you the opportunity to introduce yourself and your business. The information printed on your card helps the receiver to know more about your work and connect with you later. A smartly designed card can speak volumes about you as a person and even highlight the core beliefs of your brand.
In spite of being so important to the business, many of us fail to understand the value that a simple and well-designed business card can create. On the contrary, an ineffective card can even diminish the interest that you might have achieved to create during your interaction with a prospect. If you are one of those who understand the importance of brand presentation, read on to know how to create an effective and impressive business card for your business.
In this blog, we have divided the business card creation process briefly into two phases – Designing and Printing to make it easier. We will discuss the actions, do’s and don’ts that you can follow in both the phases to get the desired outcome.
PHASE ONE: Designing your business card
This is an important phase as it is during this stage that you chalk down things that will lead to the final printed card. It involves conceptualizing and deciding on the look and feel and what content needs to be included or excluded on the card.
Deciding the content to print on the card
First thing first, you need to decide on what do you want to print on your business card when designing it. A function of a business card is to allow people to connect with you. Thus, it is very important that you mention your contact details like website address, email address and mobile number very clearly beside your name, company name, and logo. Office address is another detail to mention on a business card but many choose to avoid it to keep the card neat. Having too much of information will clutter the card. In case you need to mention the address or say your products and services, you can make use of the reverse side of the card. Having your social media handles and QR codes are other details that you can include.
While not as popular as years gone by, a QR code is still a viable shortcut to transferring whatever data you desire. They provide a neat way of including a lot of information on a business card, without making it look cluttered. It’s also an easy way to create a link between your printed and online content. Generate a QR code is quite easy. There are various code generators online that allow you to generate them within a few clicks. You can even create a QR code through your PrintStop account and upload it along with your artwork while placing an order.
Choosing the look and feel
Once you know what you want to print, you can choose how it looks. The small space that is available on a card to work with, typography becomes all the more important since you have to make text completely legible. You can define the look your cards by these three elements:
The color of your brand should define the colors you use to design your business cards. Choose text colors that go well with the background color of your card, which should also be a brand color. Similar colors may look nice together but can be hard to read, so experiment with contrasts for legibility. Using black or darker shades of grey for the text goes well with most of the background colors. For very dark backgrounds, white can be a better option.
2. Font style
Remember to choose a font that represents the personality you are going for. A clean and modern sans-serif, an individualistic and elegant script or a classic and timeless serif font? There are countless font styles easily available today which are very creative, beautiful and can help you stand out. However, it is important for it to be easily readable. Using google free fonts are advisable to avoid font variations.
3. Size of the text and design element
To maintain readability, you want all your text to be at least 7 pts. However, you want your most important elements (like your name) to stand out, so feel free to vary the text sizes or use capital letters. Also, consider empty space—you don’t want to clutter your card, so leave your text small enough that there is plenty of breathing room around each element.
A graphic designer can create an extraordinary design for your business card that suits your brief and promotes your business. However, when it comes to printing them, there are certain technicalities or print guidelines that need to incorporate in the design to ensure what you see on the screen is what you get in your hands. Every print product has to follow a set of print guidelines during the designing process to avoid challenges. At PrintStop, all the artworks uploaded by the customer go through a prepress check to ensure that the guidelines are followed. These guidelines include:
- Cut or crop marks
Business cards are first printed on long sheets as per your quantity requirement and then cut into the size you have ordered. Thus, cut marks, also referred to as crop marks work as guidelines during the cutting process and define the final card size. Standard final cut size of the cards in India is 89 MM x 51 MM (with 3 MM variation)
- Safe margin
During the cutting process, there is always a scope for error of about 3 MM inwards or outwards from the cut marks which cannot be avoided due to the bulk cutting. In order to prevent important content – text and design elements from getting cut, a safe margin of 3 MM is maintained in all the sides inside the cut marks. Safe Margin is 83 MM x 45 MM.
- Bleed marks
Certain designs have a color patch that extends the cut marks. Due to the cutting error, if the cut happens beyond the cut marks then a white space is left. To avoid this issue, You can extend the color patch at least 3 MM beyond the cut marks. Full size including bleeds is 95 MM x 57 MM.
We provide file setup templates on our website in a different format (PDF, CDR, EPS, AI) which a customer can download from the product page and share with the designer. These templates help the designer to follow the margin guidelines while designing.
Designs with borders
You can place the content within a border to make them look very elegant. However, due to the cutting error discussed above, it is best to avoid them. A minor difference in the cutting process will get exaggerated with borders. This can bring down the entire design instead of raising it.
CMYK vs RGB:
RGB refers to the primary colors of light – Red, Green, and Blue, that are used in monitors, television screens, digital cameras, and scanners etc. While CMYK refers to the primary colors of pigment – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Very few designers and customers understand this difference. Therefore, most of the time the design artworks processed to printing are in RGB format. This leads to a variation in color in its printed form. Often the colors become a darker shade if printed in RGB. To avoid this issue, the designer has to convert the color format to CMYK accordingly.
Another issue is of the changes in font style. This happens when a machine does not have the fonts you have used in your design. The machine will fail to read the font and replace it with another font which is available. Therefore, it is best practice to convert the fonts to curves before sharing your artwork with your printer or best use one of the free Google fonts which are common there in all the machines.
To get the best print outcome, always share High-Res file with your printer. The minimum resolution of your design file should be 300dpi.
To help our customers to avoid the issues of missing print guidelines we provide many ready-to-customize design templates online. You can personalize them by uploading your logo and feeding in your contact details. These templates are categorized industry and profession wise which makes it easier to find one that best suits your business. If you are looking for out of the box design concepts, our design studio, Pehchaan can help you with unique and creative designs and artworks that follow the printing guidelines.
PHASE TWO: Printing your business cards
Once you have your print ready design in place, you can move on to the second phase. Getting them printed and delivered to you.
Choosing you paper and other features
Here you start identifying the physical part of the card. To select the paper you want to print your business card on. Choosing the right paper is also a crucial step. There is a huge number of paper options available in the market. The best bet would be to go for the ones which are standard as they are easily available to print every time you order and most probably also reasonable in terms of costs. Some paper helps you to represent your business belief like if you are a green organization then using a recycle paper extends the idea to your business card as well. Another example is using metallic paper if you belong to the jewelry industry.
While it is good to have a thick and sturdy cardstock to ensure good condition, too thick a stock will restrict the number of cards you can carry in a business card holder. Once you have selected the paper, you can decide whether you would like any of the additional features. They include laminating (matt or gloss) the card, round or straight edges etc.
Unusual materials to print your card
Most business cards are printed on cardstock. This is the most cost-effective option for printing your cards. You can also print onto all sorts of different materials including transparent and semi-transparent plastics.
Colour variations while printing
One of the reasons for color changes has been discussed in the design phase – RGB vs CMYK. However, there are other reasons too. Colour can also depend on the printing format – digital or offset, used to print your business cards. For lesser quantities, your card will be printed in the digital format. In case you decide to print in a large quantity, you can print in offset format for a better cost. The color output will vary from that of the cards printed in digital format. Some color shades like Pantone are possible to achieve only in offset process. Another variation is that of the color grey. A lighter shade of grey is not advisable for printing as the output will vary. Always choose a darker shade of grey (above 60%) to control the output.
Special finishes like spot-UV, unique cut out shapes, embossing or debossing are excellent ways to add impact to your business card. While they can add significantly, they offer the opportunity to make your card more impressive and memorable.
Double check before printing
With all the elements in place, take time to reevaluate:
- Examine the visual flow of the card. What is the first or the last to be noticed? It should start first with your logo, then your name followed by other details
- Validate all the necessary information is captured
- Ensure it does not look cluttered
- Make sure you didn’t fall into any common pitfalls. Is the text legible? Do the colors clash? Are any elements too close to the edge?
- Have your designer send you the finished product as a vector file and a vector-based PDF. You will need vector images in case you require to change the size. PDFs are readable practically by every printer.
Hope this article convinces you enough to give that deserving attention to your business card. Your card is more than just your contact information – it’s a representation of you and your brand.
Some people receive cards every day, so you need to stand out and paint you in a favorable light. Don’t cut corners with designing your business card. Spend ample time to decide on a perfect design and then find a skilled designer to implement it. In case you already are using a business card, it is not very late to improvise and print them!
To know more about printing check out our blog on “11 TIPS TO OPTIMIZE PRINT AND PAPER REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR BUSINESS“