When business cards were the primary method of sharing professional contact info, there was little pressure to stand out. As long as they told people who you are and where to find you, business cards were almost guaranteed to end up in Rolodexes far and wide.
Now, consumers are surrounded by different types of media, all competing for their attention. Even when you have relevant services to offer, recipients are more likely to toss or ignore your business card than keep it. So, if you take a trite and basic approach to designing a business card, you will get basic results.
While living in a digital world hasn’t changed the value of a business card, it should expand your view of what this simple piece of paper can accomplish. Instead of treating business cards as just a static way to convey basic information, use them to provide a compelling introduction to who you are as a person. Here are a few of our ideas for creating business card designs that help you stand out.
Showcase a Testimonial
If you’ve ever searched for a business or product online, you already know the impact of a good (or bad) word from past customers. Great testimonials can help you build trust and reel in new customers faster, especially if the reviews come from authoritative sources.
Pick a concise, attention-grabbing testimonial that sums up a key selling point of your brand, and avoid super-generic quotes that could be about any business. Do you work in a field that involves being reviewed by professional publications, such as journalism, entertainment, or culinary arts? Positive reviews from highly trusted experts can immediately set you apart as a capable and reputable professional.
If you’re willing to shell out a little extra cash, you can even create a few versions of your business card design with a different testimonial on each one.
Use an Interesting Texture
Millennials can choose from an extensive variety of business card materials, so why stick with something flimsy and boring? Handing out business cards is a very personal form of marketing. The tactile and visual experiences involved help to leave a lasting impression on the recipients. Take advantage of these benefits by using a high-quality, textured material that sends a positive message about your business.
Quilting and embossing details are wonderful options for people who want an elegant aesthetic, while high-end cotton or silk laminated cards identify you as someone with high standards. If you want a timeworn or organic feel, business cards made from recycled paper can distinguish your brand as homespun, throwback, or eco-friendly.
Create Hand-Drawn Text or Illustrations
When you run a small business, it’s beneficial to remind customers that you’re a real person who enjoys helping people. Instead of presenting yourself the same way as a corporate professional, celebrate the homegrown spirit behind your brand. Use hand-drawn illustrations or typography to give your business cards a 100-percent custom look.
Hand-drawn art and text bring an air of authenticity to your business cards while showing others that you put time and thought into everything you do. If you aren’t an artist, don’t get discouraged by the idea that your simple doodles or handwritten signature aren’t good enough.
Imperfections are what make hand-drawn branding look and feel special, and you can work with a graphic designer to put the finishing touches on your style.
Spotlight Your Creative Work
Are you a visual artist? Don’t waste a single opportunity to get your work in front of new people. Everyone from illustrators and architects to graphic artists and jewelry designers can use the prime real estate on the back of a business card to show off a work sample.
Social media has become one of the most effective marketing channels because it hooks people with attractive visuals. You can achieve the same effect with print media by building the design around your portfolio sample. Use the style and original medium of your artwork as a guide, but make sure the design still ties in with your brand identity.
Let’s say you’re a graphic designer or cartoonist. The art sample you choose should integrate well with your brand colors and aesthetic, so you can maintain a uniform look. A black-and-white photo of a past project would work better for an architect, conveying the right tone and level of professionalism while still showcasing design skills.
Choose an Unconventional Shape
Everyone knows that business cards are supposed to be rectangular — plain and simple. Yet, the graphic design world is all about breaking rules and inventing new things. Try to come up with an unconventional shape that ties in with your industry. Novelty shapes are a risk, but they’re great for small businesses and solopreneurs for three reasons:
- They make your business card impossible to forget or overlook in a pile.
- They evoke an instant reaction and make it easy for people to imagine working with you.
- They motivate viewers to show your design to others and share it online.
As you develop a design, be sure to choose a shape that offers plenty of printing space. A cake-shaped card is perfect for a baker, while a doghouse or bone-shaped card works well for a pet groomer. You can also go with die-cut designs or other geometric shapes, such as circles and hexagons. Just remember, the goal is to dream up a design that keeps people thinking about your business.
If you prefer the DIY route, you can still achieve a similar effect using a standard business card shape. Simply choose an object that closely resembles a rectangle and print it as the background for your design. For example, a camera silhouette fits comfortably on a rectangular card and makes a striking design for a professional photographer.
No doubt, you can concoct even more ways to stand out and grab attention with your business card. Consider the type of audience you want to reach and what you can do to connect with them. The answer could be an interactive card with moving parts or a clever slogan with cheeky wordplay. By looking to your brand personality for inspiration, you can create truly unique business card designs that get people excited to contact you.