If you’ve ever gone to a networking event, you’ve probably seen an overwhelming number of business cards. No matter how unique the first few you get may seem, after a while they all mostly look alike.
How can you design a card that stands out from the dozens of others in a recipient’s wallet?
Elements that Make a Business Card Design Unique
Every business card has several elements that can be tweaked to create a unique, quality personal advertisement that won’t be forgotten easily. These include the following:
- Shape — While the traditional 3.5”x2” card is expected and safe, you can play with it. Round the corners, use a folded card that expands from these dimensions into a new shape, or order die-cut shaped cards that still fit into a rectangular business card slot. It’s usually a bad idea to make your card huge; you run the risk of recipients throwing it away because it didn’t fit in their wallet or pocket.
- Thickness/Weight — The minimum acceptable weight and thickness for professional cards are 45 kg/100 lb. and 12 points. Anything thinner feels limp and apathetic. Thicker cards are favored for artistic and creative endeavors, and have the added possibilities of an accent edge, a color insert, or fancy textures.
- Letterpressing/Embossing/Gilding — To make your card extra fancy and more memorable, consider spending a little more for one of these specialty features. Shiny elements catch the eye, while raised or lowered textures appeal to the tactile memory as well as the visual memory.
- Orientation — It’s impressive how much a vertical card will stand out from the crowd of traditional horizontal cards. If your info would work well in a vertical format, consider breaking the mold by going vertical.
- Text — Minimalism rules right now. It conveys confidence in your abilities. It doesn’t waste time, instead highlighting only the necessary information. It’s refreshingly unpretentious. It leaves potential contacts plenty of room to jot notes about you. That being said, you should still include enough information that interested parties can tell what you do and find you without difficulty. A clever card shape or piece of artwork can help you keep your text short and sweet.
- Visuals — Including a photo or drawing of yourself, or other commissioned custom art, makes your card more fun to look at and helps other professionals recognize your name more quickly.
We also found a few tips on designing a business card that is particularly appropriate for your industry.
How You Benefit from a Unique Business Card
The obvious benefit of an individual card is that people will remember you. Unfortunately, this could work to your disadvantage if you think your design is amazingly clever, but others find it tacky or confusing. This is why you should ask for input from several trusted sources — including at least one professional designer — before you commit to printing your final proof.
Unique cards also help you transcend the norm. Having any business card at all is almost a foregone conclusion; but having an interesting one gives you something fun to discuss with potential clients and investors. They may have heard enough elevator speeches that day to immediately tune out anything resembling a pitch. However, if your card shows ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking, they will be more interested in you as a person.
Lastly, a business card gives recipients a tangible reminder of the awesome conversation they had with you. If you have already brushed up on your conversational skills and business etiquette — asking for and commenting on the other person’s card, being more interested in them than in yourself, addressing them respectfully by name — your business card will only reinforce that positive impression.
Katherine Halek is the lead advertising and print strategy advisor at Signazon and Easybanners.com, leading online printers that provide marketing collateral for thousands of bloggers around the United States.