How to create a great business card

What we know about business cards:  we always lose them, we always forget them at crucial meetings,
and they always end up in a bin!

We are wired, always online and connected, eating content everyday at the speed of our thumbs.
You have 3 seconds to grab somebody’s attention, sometimes less than that.

The most important question to ask yourself is: What can you do to get the best chances to be remembered?

Let me give you the steps and the best practices to win your audience at the first impressions you’ll make.

Design is everything:

  • Dimensions:  Show me the numbers. A horizontal business card should be 9.55 cm wide and 5.71 cm tall. Vertical one 5.71 cm wide and 9.55 cm tall, obvious right? You should really ask your printer about this, because they’ll give you the exact “bleed” areas. Consider the bleeding areas, if you don’t want your design roughly cut in the print process.2014-04-03 11.20.44
  • Get a pencil and paper: Oh! That my friends will save you a LOT of time. Ever built a house with no plans? No blueprints? You’ll lose money for sure. We need to sketch a bit. How will your card look like? How much information? What kind of information?  There are so many design variations, but the most important thing is to settle them down first. It don’t have to be pretty, you are not drawing it. You just want to get the ideas of where every components will go.2014-04-03 12.30.56
  • Colors: The color has to resonate with your logo and the personality (Branding) of your business. That’s why your logo has to be successful FIRST. I recommend you to use 2 colors, 3 maximum. Need some help?
    Let me show you The Meaning of Colors.
  • Get to the point: What typeface dimension you should set? The best is between 10.5 and 12 point, that’s it!
  • Typography: I like to compare typefaces with music keys: they set the mood and the tone of the melody. You don’t have to know the notes to feel the music and know whether you like It or not, right? It’s the same with fonts!
    Let’s take “Baskerville” for example. If you’re in Education or serious business (law firm, Bank etc.), it’s the perfect font to use! Want to Be Taken Seriously? Use the Font Baskerville. (Ps: choose only 2 fonts, and you’ll simplify your life, same rule for colors.)03-04-2014 12-43-57
  • Contrast & Spaces: You should use that technique to emphasize –or not– the information. Your name, for example, should be bold. Because it’s the first thing people will get from you. Then come along your profession, and all your contact details. Break it down. Separate the information with spaces, as I did in my business card below.Print
  •  Symbols: Another debate: should you use icons, or not? It all depends on your tastes. I could have change the Facebook address in the example above, and put the Facebook icon instead. I just liked it the way it was.
    The Do’s:
  • Make it personal: It’s your business card! You are going to deal with the models you have until your run out of it!
  • Get some inspiration: Use Google images to be inspired and save the designs you like the most to your computer.
  • Get creative: An optician, for example can play with type font dimension to sell their products. Sky is the limit here.03-04-2014 14-25-43
  • Make it original: Handwritten notes are charming and can add some human touch to a design. What about graphics like illustrations? It’s a terrific tool to get someone attention long enough to say “Hey, that’s a great card! I’ve never seen one like this before!”. Don’t listen to the negative saying about illustration (it’s childish, etc.), matter of fact, it’s the most efficient form of communication. How’d you like that beautiful example?Image
  • Call your printer: Because they know their job, and they know what are the costs of creativity and originality.
  • Render it: When all is set and done and you are happy with the design, you need to render it using templates.This is the case study of Helene Jacob, a Parisian artist and painter. She uses colored duct tape to craft beautiful Hollywood stars portraits. Helene likes Cinema art. How do you come up with a simple idea to tell Helene’s story? How the card’s design will get her audience to know more about her? Visit her website? Ask her questions and buy her stories?cartevisite_horizontale_recto

    Do you see how duct tape stripes are surrounding the logo without interfere in it. They just enhance it and show eye’s directions. The colors are repetitive, and again, set a mood and the melody’s harmony. Your eyes must return to the center where Helene’s logo is. It’s like returning to the home based note in music, you know that it will happen anyway. It’s that balance we seek in design. That “moment” when you find yourself contemplating something on and on. Like art.bcard_verticale


You can discuss with Helene, check and like her craft on Facebook, ask her questions about. As she’s always coming up with new creations and wants to share them with you.

The Don’ts:

  • Clutter: Aaaah! Too much information kill the information: photos there, colors there, your logo there…your eyes need clear directions and places to rest. Check some bad examples of cluttered business cards.
  • Skip crucial information: That’s obvious. But we forget the obvious too many times. Put your profession, your phone number, your mail address, your social media avenues and your Skype on your card.
  • Bad color contrast: This is a test! Can you read it?2014-03-31 06.28.15
  • Skip the design steps above: If you fail to prepare your design, you’ll fail to communicate.
  • Flip it: I’m baffled when I see business cards with nothing on the flipside. The first reaction people will have when you give them your card is to flip it. We are curious by nature, we just want to know what’s next for us. If you fail to give them an answer, you’ll not grab their attention. What should be there? Your logo! It’s your first chance to show your identity and get the first impression right. Don’t miss it!

More business card tips:

  • Magic and lucky number 3 : Always give 3 business cards –at least– to your clients/prospects. You never know, may be they’ll get in touch with their business partners and your name will pop into the conversation.
  • Email it :  Your business card .pdf file is not supposed to stay in your printer’s system, neither yours. Share it! Send it via email to your clients, kindly asking them to re-share to the contacts they think might be interested in doing business with you.
  • Dropbox it : You may have document folders for every clients you have (organized by name) and to which you both have access to; because Dropbox offers great ways to instant sharing and collaboration, it’s a good idea to create subfolder – let’s say “My business card”- and send them an invitation to join it. They’ll see every changes you’ve made. More about Dropbox? Check that link.
  • Turn it into a VCard : You can also include a VCard in your email signature. If you don’t have any business card with you, you can always send an empty email to your contact with your smartphone. Best occasion to reach back and follow up later!

Apps for the job:

  • Camcard : Can’t live without it! Once installed, you just have to take a pic –well you don’t have to, it does it for you– and it scans it. You  save and
  • CardMunch : I don’t use it that much, but it has a better LinkedIn integration.

Your turn! Show me your business card design, share it with me via email. Tell me how do you like it and how it represents your business in the best way. Visit my website, and… oh…why do I give you all my contact details when you already have them! Winking smile


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