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.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can't I Design It Myself?

(Part 4 in a four-part series)

In concluding this series, I've been exploring the most often-asked questions posed to graphic designers from all walks of life. Questions are meant to trigger constructive thoughts, engaging the brain in problem-solving activities until the solution or solutions are reached. What I did in this four-part series is some further introspection by analyzing the four points most often asked by clients when this question is posed: 1) easy to do; 2) saving time; 3) saving money; and 4) I'm the business owner.

Today I'll look at #4, "I'm the business owner."

The business owner knows more about their business than anyone else. He or she works to know the desired target markets, identifies the potential customers within the target markets, decides what products or services to sell, sets the pricing, resolves customer questions/issues, and closes the sales. For most business owners, their days are filled thinking about their business in some aspect and reviewing methodologies for improving and growing their business.

In part two of this series I discussed the many hats a business owner wears. Because a business owner is many things to the life of a business, it is very difficult to be proficient at all aspects of running a successful business. To make things more confusing, the marketing aspect must be taken into consideration and a method must be decided upon. If using mostly a print medium, the collateral material should look as consistent as possible. If combining print medium with networking, branding becomes more critical because your potential customers are getting information about your business much sooner than they would if traditional mailing practices were used. If using only social media and the internet, branding must have a high focus because the potential market is much larger but receiving your information faster than using networking.

Business owners must be able to convey their message quickly, concisely, and carefully. They must be good at project managing, delegation, and follow-up to ensure their valuable time is being used wisely for the business. Outsourcing critical components allows the business owner to focus more fully on the aspects surrounding their industry and respond quickly to market changes or customer complaints. By surrounding the business with a quality team, the business is more efficient, more profitable, and more successful.

My Networking Journey

(part one in a continuing series)

I've been working my business for the last 19 months, and I've learned a lot about networking and the difference between referrals and leads. I don't know everything yet about referral network marketing, but I like to call myself a life-learner, and a life-learner never stops learning something new. In this series I'll pretty much bare my soul and outline my journey from the start. No finish yet, it has yet to be played out!

Once I made the decision to hang my sign and launch my business, my journey with networking began with research. I went to and looked up networking to see how it was currently defined. I then used and to find networking groups in my area. Sounds pretty easy, right?

The research was the easy part! My search led me to groups within my zip code, within the city of Phoenix, and also led me to the organization BNI. From this point it's a matter of trying out groups you think you might fit in well with, ones that may share a common interest of yours (i.e. heart disease, autism, etc.), or ones that are lead generators. Believe me, it was a long list to weed through.

My research also led me to Dave Sherman and The Business Journal of Phoenix. Through a seminar Dave held in conjunction with TBJ, I learned how to use certain pages of TBJ to my advantage and help build my business. He also talked about networking groups as a general topic, so I decided to ask him more about it after the seminar. He told me there's no good way to determine if a group is a good one to join or not unless you go check it out. That's a hard one to swallow. No one in business likes to waste time, and some of these functions may indeed become a leech for time. The key? Remembering I was only visiting, and a visit is not the same as a commitment. Besides, I was still handing out my business cards, still getting the word out, and that was important to me as well.

I found my Westside Creatives group through This group is very important for my business growth from a knowledge base standpoint. Because this group has individuals all working in different areas within my industry, I can stay on top of trends and concerns while learning what specialties my colleages enjoy tackling. This was a huge plus for my early business days! This valuable experience taught me networking doesn't always have to be about business. Also, the more I visited and networked with other people, I realized networking in general isn't about getting more business -- it's learning about people and the organizations you're aligned with and best I can help them. In short, it's about building and maintaining relationships.