Could your business card really be considered a sign?
Hmm…that's a good question, isn't it? Well, to begin, let's look at our definition of a "sign". Simply put, a sign is an object that advises, informs, or instructs. So, with that particular definition in mind, yes, a business card is, indeed, a "sign" – when designed purposefully, it performs all three of those actions! How, then, do you make sure your business card does exactly what your outdoor and indoor signage does for your business?
Here are a few tips for designing a business card as effective as larger signage:
- Make sure your business card is branded. When it comes to branding, consistency is key! Make sure your business card looks just like your other signage, website, social media profiles, etc. Utilize the same colors, fonts, logos, images and messages across the board. In marketing, repetition is the best way to increase brand recognition – the more they see the same imagery, the more they'll immediately recall who you are and what you do.
- Be sure to "advise and inform". Yes, you should definitely put your contact information on your business cards, but don't stop there! That little 2"x3.5" space is valuable real estate – use it strategically. Inform your prospects about what it is you do, who you do it for, and where you do it. Perhaps, you are "a local dog trainer for assertive/aggressive dogs" or maybe you provide "safe and healthy dentistry for children of all ages". Whatever it is you do, be specific about it. Advise and inform!
- And, while you're at it, "instruct". Don't just "advise and inform", make sure you tell your prospects what action you'd like them to take as a result of receiving your card. Would you like them to call you for an appointment? Visit your website for a free download? Connect with you on Facebook? Be clear. Instruct them as to what steps to take to further connect with you!
- Be brief. – Yes, there's a lot to convey, but remember, you've only got 2"x3.5" to do it! It's a really small sign, so choose wisely. Don't list every phone number, all of your email addresses, and each social media handle. Choose the most important, and use the most space to "advise, inform and instruct"! And, pay attention to design – use legible fonts that are sized properly. Readability trumps creativity!
- Use the best quality graphics. On a business card, your graphics are smaller, but they still have to be of great quality. Make sure your logos, images, and photographs all have a resolution of at least 300dpi – meaning they are clear and not at all blurry. Lower resolution images are fine for your website and social media profiles, but they are not adequate for printed marketing tools. If you'd like your business card to be professional, use quality graphics!
- Use a good quality paper. Producing effective signage starts with quality materials. Make sure you choose a quality card stock with a weight of at least 14pt. It's a thicker, heavier stock that won't bend or tear easily, which is beneficial for your prospects. Also, go with a UV coating – that glossy finish looks fantastic and helps your cards last a lot longer. If you prefer a matte finish, however, still opt for a quality card stock. No matter how great your design looks, and how strategic your marketing copy, if you print on thin, sub par paper, it will defeat the purpose (and ruin your professional image)!
- Customize your card. Whether you round the corners, custom cut it into a unique shape, or use a textured card stock, bring your business card to life! As with signage, anytime you customize, it attracts more attention. Professionals exchange cards regularly (yes, even now in the information age). Make sure your cards are remarkable enough to be remembered and well-designed enough to stimulate action. Plus, exchanging a creative, professional business card will make you proud when you receive a thin, flimsy, card with very little color and way too much text in return.
Your business card is a sign – a small one, yes, but a sign nonetheless. It displays your brand and declares to the world who you are and what you do. As with any sign, take great care in the materials you choose, the graphics and text you display, and the creativity you showcase. Be proud of your card–and make it work for you!