If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ve probably been handed a business card or two.
While the first business cards in the 17th century were just letters announcing an aristocrat would be in town, they still serve a similar function today, 400 years later.
Business cards are important because they:
- Are an extension of your brand
- Contain all the crucial contact information about you
- Are part of the overall first impression you give clients and partners
Not sure how to design a business card that stops people in their tracks?
Don’t worry – we’re here to show you how to design a business card that will get you noticed.
Despite their small format, business cards are little marketing and networking powerhouses.
But to pass the glance test, it’s essential to come up with a business card design that’s appealing, simple, and professional – all at once.
To design a business card that makes heads turn, you should:
- Conduct thorough research. Study other business cards in your area of business to get an idea of what you like. Don’t be a copycat, but let them inspire you: you want your business card to stand out from the crowds.
- Choose your card size and shape. Either pick a standard size and shape or get creative – as long as the card remains practical. Don’t design a triangular business card, that’d be really a pain in the… wallet.
- Use your brand’s design elements. Use the same design elements in your business card that you use across other branded content. You’ll look both polished and professional.
- Get creative. Follow printing standards and make sure that the layout, colors, typography, and the decorative elements of your card work well together.
- Don’t cheap out on card materials. Invest in high-quality card stock, so that your cards last longer. Of course, if your business is more a numbers game, you should opt for a cheaper card.
- Add that special something. For example, print finishing techniques can make your card design more visually appealing. Would you like to add some bling? Or perhaps a 3D effect? Check what your local print shop can offer you.
- Experiment with materials. Consider using unconventional materials so that your card beats the competition.
- Give your card additional uses. Make people laugh or give your card a clever new function – a window scraper on frosty winter mornings? Why not. Make it stick in the recipients’ minds.
- Double-check the content. Before you go and print thousands of business cards, check the card design document for any mistakes and typos. Nothing screams unprofessional like a .con.
- Hire a designer. With the help of an expert, you can transform your ideas into a business card design that’s truly special.
How to design a business card in 10 steps
A good-looking business card will benefit your business in more ways than one.
Your elevator pitch might be perfect, but if you don’t make it super-convenient for your potential clients or partners to reach out to you afterward, then all of your efforts might have been in vain.
So, get busy and design a business card that’s not just eye-catching, but shows your personality off too.
Step 1: Do your homework 📚
As the saying goes, copy with pride.
But don’t settle for just copying someone. Go and make your cards for business better than anything that the world has seen before.
Begin by researching and studying all kinds of different business card designs. This way, not only will you get an idea of the different business card templates that are already out there, but you’ll start noticing what you like and what you don’t.
Look for cards that represent businesses from your industry.
Sure, it might be fun to look at the best creative industries designs, but it won’t get you far if you’re in B2B sales.
Get inspired by what’s trending and start making plans in your head as to how you could get your own business card to stand out.
Here are some good websites to start trawling for inspiration:
Step 2: Choose your business card’s size and shape ✉️
The overwhelming majority of business cards out there have one thing in common.
Most of them are rectangular, horizontal, and close to the size of a bank card.
And as such, they’re easier to carry and store: just imagine trying to fit a triangular card in your wallet.
A standard US business card is 3.5 inches by 2 inches (or 88.9mm by 50.8mm). But there’s no definite rule that says your business card needs to be this shape or size.
You want to stand out, but not be a bother, right?
It is considering opting for a vertical card layout. It’s the easiest way to have a unique business card design: it’s less popular than a horizontal orientation and instantly makes your card more noticeable.
And when it comes to picking the size, remember that the business card design should be large enough to be readable.
But avoid a card that’s too big. It’s the fastest way to accidentally obscure the actual details on the card (usually, at least your company name, phone number, and email address).
Step 3: Use design elements related to your brand 🔣
Want to know why this business card by Aurora works so well? ⬇️
It uses the same design elements as the company’s website, letterheads, and even invoices.
Your business card should look like the rest of your company, because:
- You’ll be able to create consistency
- Your business will be instantly more recognizable
- You’ll have an easier time building a brand
Go through your advertising materials and website to decide on the elements that would be useful for your business card design.
These elements usually include at least your business logo, the typography and color palette you’re using in other marketing materials.
Since your space will be limited, it’s no surprise that logos are the most common design elements used on business card designs.
They help to communicate what your company is all about at a glance.
Don’t have a logo yet? Use a free business logo generator to get ahead.
Step 4: Get creative with your business card design 🧑🎨
Grab your easels, notebooks, and drawing pads: it’s time to start designing business cards.
If you’re familiar with graphic design, go ahead and start a new file in Adobe InDesign.
No idea what that means? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Now, regardless of whether you use graphic design tools or a business card maker, pay attention to these things:
- The layout. The logo, name, position, and contact information should be sized and positioned for maximum neatness and impact.
- Your logo and business name. These details should be the business card’s main highlights. They have to be larger and carefully placed. Be sure to leave some empty space between the content as well so that the design doesn’t feel cramped.
- Typography. When picking a typeface, choose two sans serif or serif font types since they’re clear and easy to read. One font can be used for the name and position, while the other one is for the contact details.
- Colors. Don’t go crazy on the number of colors. Lots of different colors are not only distracting but also carry the risk of looking less professional. If you have a brand or style guide, use that when designing business cards – it will save you time.
- Other graphic elements. You might also want to include some other, more decorative graphics on your business card design. Consider using icons for your phone number, email address, social media handles, and company address. But don’t go overboard: make sure these additional elements don’t divert too much attention away from the contact details.
Overall, in an appealing business card design, all the elements should complement each other.
When you’re happy with the result, convert the document to 300 dpi so that the print result is clear and sharp.
And if you’re using a business card maker tool, just hit the save button.
Recommended reading: How to Start an Online Business Built for Growth in 10 Steps
Step 5: Don’t cheap out on the materials 💵
You might not realize it, but the material your business card is made of is more important than you think.
In the business card business, most printers give you the option to choose between card stock and plastic.
With card stock, you have lots of options for different textures and thicknesses. This means that there are usually more customization options and ways to work around any cost constraints.
Generally, thinner card breaks and tears more easily, so it’s advisable to opt for thicker paper and have one less thing to worry about.
If your budget allows, quality card stock is a worthy investment.
While it’s usually more expensive, a thicker card makes for a sturdy, impressive, and long-lasting business card.
Plastic, on the other hand, is less popular and more expensive, but it’s a great and long-lasting material, especially if you want to use a transparent background.
If you have physical copies of other peoples’ business cards, examine what they are made of to see which one you prefer.
Step 6: Add special finishes ✨
Do you want your business card to shine bright like a diamond?
The easiest way to make your card more distinctive is by adding special finishes to the print job.
There are tons of print finishes to choose from:
- Glossy lamination is great for vibrant and colorful cards
- Matte finishes are more suitable for a stylized business card design
- Use foil stamping to highlight certain text or to create a more visually interesting card
- Opt for metallic inks to make specific areas stand out
- Apply some UV varnish to your logo to highlight it from the rest of your card with a different texture
- Try embossing or debossing the card to add more tactile variety to your business card
Most printing shops offer plenty of finishing options but do charge a small premium for the glam.
Also, don’t just add a costly finish or two for the sake of it.
Instead, look at your business card design and consider where the extra touches would help your card to stand out.
Consider also what’s relevant to your field: if you’re the only design business with a text-heavy black-and-white card, you might want to spice that up a little.
Similarly, a business law attorney might not want to have the brightest and most playful of business cards.
Step 7: Experiment with unusual materials 📜
Are you feeling particularly experimental, or is your field of business really competitive?
Consider using more unconventional materials and items as your business card.
Some companies have done this by using fabrics, metals, balloons, or magnets as business cards.
Look at how the design business Trick&Treat created business cards for a football player that double as finger football goals. ⬇️
If you want to try this out, pick a material or an item that’s relevant to your business.
If you offer a recycling service, you can create a business card out of recycled plastics.
Or if you’re running a tailoring business, why not use fabric scraps to create a fabric finish on your business cards?
Get as creative as you want, as long as your card design is still practical and easy to store.
The material you opt for should be strong and durable, and the card should still serve its purpose of sharing your contact details with potential new clients or business connections.
Step 8: Give your business card an additional use 💡
Make your business card all the more impressive is by giving it an additional function or two.
This way, people are sure to interact with it, and the chances of your business card ending up forgotten in a drawer or thrown away altogether are smaller.
You can make your card multifunctional simply by featuring a calendar or portfolio on the back of it.
Or you could turn the card into a playful tool, like a finger hole puppet or a model kit. Some companies even give out useful utensils as their business cards, like cheese graters or bottle openers.
Whatever you choose, the added function should remain related to your business.
As cool as a cheese grater business card might be, it makes no sense to the recipient if it’s used as a business card for a plumbing company.
You could try to:
- Crack a joke. The social media company Yik Yak uses some funny quotes from their own platform on the back of their cards to entertain readers.
- Create multiple designs. If you can’t settle on just one business card design, consider using more than one. This designer creates several business cards for IKEA to not only richen the selection but also to reflect the company’s identity better.
- Imitate a well-known object. Take a look at the following example by Croxton Design, where they imitate a roll of tickets that can be torn into individual business cards.
Step 9: Double-check the content 👀
When you’re finally happy with your business card, it’s time to check and re-check that everything looks perfect.
Business cards are usually printed in bulk, so make sure to give your content and layout a second look before you pay for your print job.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to spend twice as much money on business cards because you misspelled your email or misplaced your logo.
You don’t want to be handing out a card full of spelling errors – it’ll make both you and your brand look unprofessional and sloppy.
So, before printing, check that:
- Your business card is typo- and design flaw-free ✅
- The design document follows the printing requirements if you’re using your own design software ✅
- Your logo and other bigger design elements are within the safe printing area ✅
- The printer supports your chosen fonts ✅
- You’re not using any trademarked or all rights reserved material in your design ✅
Before printing in bulk, order a dummy or a mockup card to see how the print turns out.
You can give the dummy to your friends or family and ask what they think.
And when you’re sure that you’re happy with the final business card design, it’s time to get it printed.
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Step 10: Consider hiring a designer 💭
Stuck with your business card design? Or running short on time?
There’s no shame in hiring a graphic designer to help you out, especially if your budget allows it.
A good designer can help you get through the design process faster: after all, the designer’s main job is to turn your ideas into a beautiful business card.
If you already have a draft of a layout, a designer can add some extra touches to make it look more appealing and unique. After all, creating designs is their specialty.
Also, designers are also more familiar with printing standards, so you can rest assured that the final print will look just as good as you imagined.