Business cards are one of the first tools that people get for themselves when starting a new business – or have provided for them when they are working for someone else. Most people when they arrive at a new job have, among other things such as traditional desk and office supplies waiting for them, a box of business cards ready to use.
Business cards are such an essential part of our business, but we need to make sure that they work for us rather than against us. They represent us and convey our contact information to colleagues, friends, relatives, close associates, acquaintances, existing clients, and potential customers.
If we are the ones creating our business cards – rather than having them supplied for us by our company – we spend creative time deciding what they should like and what information should be included on them. We choose type styles and point sizes, logos, taglines, symbols, and other content.
Maybe instead of actually doing the layouts ourselves, we hire the services of a marketing firm, advertising agency, marketing consultant, graphic artist, or virtual assistant do it for us. For startup businesses, this might be an expense that we can’t afford initially so we revert to doing it ourselves even if we lack the creative and layout experience to do a great job with it.
Nevertheless, the main thing is (1) that the important contact information we want people to use to reach us is on the card and (2) that it is printed in such a way that people can read and use it. It’s nice for the card to be attractive, but this is secondary to being useful.
Let’s look at a few design pitfalls to avoid. One has to do with the color of the card. Many cards are white with either black or colored printing applied to them. Years ago, color was extra and multiple colors had a charge for each one used. That’s why black was used so frequently – it was included. Now, color printing costs nothing additional, but many people still like black ink on a white or light colored background.
Be careful of images used as a background. While the photo or design may help brand our businesses, they might obscure the text that is printed on top of them. Even when the image is screened or lightened, it still might get in the way of total content legibility.
Many people desire to use a colored background rather than white to make their card stand out a little. The potential issue with this is that the background can hide or interfere with the legibility of the text printed on it. In order to achieve sufficient contrast with a dark background, a light ink color is selected for the copy. As a result, white, gray, silver, yellow, gold, tan, or other light colors appear on a black, navy, red, forest green, brown, or other dark background. They may actually fade or blur into the background or become very hard to read. As people age – and many of us are working with an aging population – it becomes harder to distinguish light print on a dark background.
In general, be careful of the amount of contrast on the card. people are used to seeing black or navy printing on a white or light background, but when other ink or background colors are used, the resulting contrasts – strong or weak – become an important consideration.
There are a few other details to keep in mind that we’ll cover another time.