Monday, April 19, 2010

Basics of Business Card Design recap

I read this post from Brett Davis on's site. Here is the link before I continue:

OK, now that you've had a chance to read it, let me share a few thoughts:

First, I agree completely with what Brett states on this posting. Never should you turn your business card into your brochure and clutter it with so much text its effectiveness is greatly lessened. You should set up your business cards with a bleed, if there is one, and definitely limit the number of fonts you use. Remember, it's not about showing off, it's about effective communication. That being said, I'd like to add a few points of my own to Brett's:

1. When you're setting up your business card template, remember three key points: First, check with the print shop for the margin bleed. Brett is correct that in the majority of instances the 1/8" bleed will be fine, but I have a printer I send work to fairly regularly that needs a 1/4" bleed - that was quite a surprise. Second, remember the majority of print shops do not like working with Microsoft anything. If you do not have industry-standard software (or at least one with a file format the print shop is comfortable working with) you are most likely looking at a reset of your work. Third, if you have to work with Microsoft, please save the file as a .pdf with fonts embedded, or have a professional help you do this. Microsoft Word does not always embed the fonts, and Microsoft Publisher's default mode is RGB -- great for the web, lousy for printing.

2. When using color, be very careful about the color choices made. If it hurts your eyes to look at it, chances are very good it will hurt the intended audience's eyes as well, sending a negative marketing image. Use color to highlight points on your card, such as your company name, phone number and e-mail address.

3. Know where your file will be printed and what options are offered for your printing job. A year ago a friend of mine bought her business card design from me, thanked me, and told me she would get it printed herself. A week later she told me she didn't understand everything being asked (the difference between matte, glossy and UV coating, for example). It took her and her husband about 1/2 to go through the printer's questions, whereas someone familiar with the industry would have spent maybe five minutes. Oh, and the printer? She took the job to OfficeMax, who in turn outsourced the project to another print shop, so she ended up paying more in the end.

4. When using fonts, make sure to limit the use of cursive fonts or thin fonts, such as Monotype Corsiva, Times or Century Gothic. What I usually do is use a sans-serif font for the body if I've used a serif for the company name, or vice-versa. If I do use a cursive font for the company name, I still use a sans-serif for the body. If you do use a cursive font, make sure it is legible; a too-fancy font might look impressive, but if the viewer can't read it you've lost a potential customer.

Along with everything Brett said, I would lastly state if you can't figure out how to give the print shop the files they need to print your project, or if you simply do not have time to set up your template and design your project, call a professional designer. It may cost a bit up front, but will save you time, money, and headaches in the long run.


Brochure Printing said...

So let's recap: Business card should reflect your branding and image; Bold design creates excitement about your product or service.

David Airey said...

Hi Lisa,

Great advice about keeping your card un-cluttered. I've seen it many times before — people not wanting to leave anything out.

Off-topic, thanks very much for your comment on my recent interview (on the Logobird blog). Great to know you think I'm worth following through my blog and on Twitter/Facebook.

All the very best,


Lisa Raymond said...

Hello, Brochure Printing! Well summarized, yes. Very few designs and industries can get away with a bold design, but your business card should definitely reflect your business image as well as continue the branding of your company. Thank you for your post!

Lisa Raymond said...

Hi, David,
Thank you for your comments about my post. It's my hope that others reading this post will take a new look at their business card and decide to make a much more effective piece. Better still to engage with a professional to help them look great in print.

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