How to design a business card: 10 golden rules

Reading time: 8 minutes

A business card represents the next step in making your small business dream a reality. For many potential customers, it’s also the first interaction they’ll have with your brand, so make sure it’s a positive one.

A thoughtfully designed business card does more than just carry your contact information. It will make you look professional, build trust for customers and set your small business apart from others. 

But before you start giving out business cards to everyone you meet, ask yourself: What makes a good business card design? How can you make it stand out?

The answer? By carefully considering the information you include, and how you present it. Here, we’ve put together 10 essential tips on how to design a card that best represents you and your business. And we’ll tell you what to avoid when designing a business card. 

For extra advice, we spoke to Tristan Le Breton, Creative Director at 99designs by Vista, a global platform that makes it easy for small businesses to work with professional designers to create logos, websites and more.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to design a business card:

  1. Find a template that reflects your brand’s personality.
  2. Find the right typeface.
  3. Settle on a size and shape.
  4. Organize your information.
  5. Think dual-purpose.
  6. Maximize your logo.
  7. Leave some white space.
  8. Add something special.
  9. Include a call to action.
  10. Proofread…then proofread again.

What to avoid when designing a business card

1. Find a template that reflects your brand’s personality.

Your business card says a lot about you and your small business, so be sure to choose a design that reflects your brand. For example, if you’re an interior designer who specializes in modern styling and loves clean lines, create a card that’s clean and simple. Or maybe you’re a dog walker with an outgoing personality—reflect the fun nature of your business with a colorful, less formal card.

Tip

Ask a friend what they think your business card design communicates to see if they are getting the right message about your brand’s personality. When in doubt, talk to a designer. Or take a look at Vistaprint’s Design Services.

Business card design for chef

2. Find the right typeface.

If there’s a specific font you’ve been using on your website or other marketing materials, bring that onto your business card. 

The font you choose should always represent your brand. For example, consider an elegant script if you’re an etiquette coach, or a typewriter-inspired font if you’re a writer. It must also be easy to read. All of your text should be at least 8pt, but more important information (like your name or business name) can be printed in a larger size, a different typeface or in bold.

Tristan’s recommendation? 

“A good rule of thumb is to make the company name larger than a 12pt font, and never use any font sizes smaller than 8pt.”

Typefaces fonts for business card design

3. Settle on a size and shape.

The size and orientation of your business card affects text size and the amount of information you can include, and also makes a statement about your brand.

Are you a conventional, no-frills company or a bold non-conformist?

Most business cards are rectangular, about the size of a credit card, and laid out horizontally. People are familiar with this format, so it’s a safe choice, but if you want your business card to stand out, consider using a square shape, rounded corners or vertical orientation.

Vertical business card

4. Organize your information.

Speaking of information, your business card should give customers everything they need to contact you, find you online or locate your shop or office. Aside from your name and job title, add your business name, telephone number, website, email address and social media handles. Make sure you include all of this information on your business card so customers can easily contact you in whatever way they feel most comfortable.

When you’re adding your information to your business card template, consider the way it’s laid out. Each piece of information should be clearly distinguishable, but flow nicely with the rest. 

“A good visual flow for a business card design should start with the logo, then the name, then move on to secondary information like email addresses and phone numbers,” Tristan says. “You can always alter the visual flow by adjusting an element’s size, shifting its location or adding additional white space.”

Business card graphic design

5. Think dual-purpose.

Don’t waste all that printing space! Use the reverse side of your business card for appointment reminders, loyalty stamps or as a blank canvas to showcase something extra about your brand. For example, if you run a restaurant or cocktail bar, include a short recipe for a signature dish or drink. Do you sell handmade goods? Use business cards as tags for jewelry, clothing, accessories and other crafts.

Another way to make your business card stick is by turning it into a magnet. This technique works particularly well for businesses offering recurring services like plumbing, gardening, pet sitting, hairdressing, car services, restaurants and more. Customers will stick them on their fridges for easy access to your contact information.

The options for repurposing your business card are endless, and can ensure your card gets further, lasts longer and makes a stronger impression.

Business card logo design

Tristan says, “Your card is more than just your contact information; it’s a representation of you and your brand. Before you think of creating new business cards, there are two crucial design components to consider: your finalized logo and your brand colors. These elements are the most important parts of your visual branding, and will help influence other areas of the card design process.”

A business card is *all* about the logo, so consider dedicating one side of your card solely to your logo. As a visual representation of your business, it deserves a prominent place that will instantly catch the eye of potential clients.

Business card logo design

Tip

Once you have a logo, aim to create a complete identity for your brand: a collection of colors and fonts to use in all of your marketing materials (including business cards), a tone of voice to use in all communications and an idea of the overall “vibe” of your brand. If you need help, work with a professional designer — or check out VistaPrint’s Design Services — to create a logo, business card, website, marketing materials and more.

7. Leave some white space.

Don’t clutter your card with too much text. If there are too many elements on the card, they’ll all compete for the reader’s attention and nothing will stand out. (Remember, you can use both sides of the card!) Design-wise, a little white space is easier on the eyes, and it can help draw attention to the most important details.

Plus, you might want to add a note before you hand out your card to someone. Leaving a little room gives you space to jot down your new phone extension or give potential customers the name of a colleague.

“The fewer elements you have, the more impact each will make, so think about how you can clear the clutter to leave a lasting impression,” says Tristan.

Business card design for attorney

8. Add something special.

There are a few creative ideas you can use for your business card design. One easy way to make your card stand out is to add an unusual design element or special print treatment. Foil accents add a touch of sophisticated shine, while embossed gloss creates a raised, glossy coating, giving your cards a stand-out 3D feel.

According to Tristan, “special finishes can go a long way in making a lasting impression on potential customers, partners and clients.”

Paper stock is another way to add something special to your business card. Extra-thick paper adds an instantly luxurious touch, while recycled kraft paper lends an organic feel.

Make sure these special features are appropriate for your branding. If you’re in an earthy, conservative or less glamorous line of work, it might feel odd to add a shimmery foil accent to your business card.

Business card design with shimmery finish

9. Include a call to action.

A CTA isn’t a business card requirement, but it can encourage potential clients to take that next step. Whether it’s a special offer, a useful tip or a discount code, create an incentive around your business to encourage customers. 

Consider using a QR code as part of your call to action. As people are increasingly comfortable with scanning QR codes, adding one to your business card is a great, one-click way to send people to your website, subscribe them to your mailing list or give them a special offer. We suggest placing the code on the back of your business card because that makes it easy to scan, and won’t take away from your logo on the front.

10. Proofread…then proofread again.

Is there anything worse than opening a freshly printed box of business cards (or menus, or flyers) to see that there’s a typo?

Before you place your order, ask a colleague or friend to double-check your business card for spelling errors. If you want to be *extra* sure that your card is perfectly proofed, enlist the help of a professional copy editor.

Since there is such a small amount of text on a business card, it should be a relatively quick, low-cost task.

What to avoid when designing a business card

Borders: Business card borders might seem like a clever design element, but they can make printing and cutting a bulk order of business cards more complicated. Borders will accentuate any cutting mistakes in the printing process, so they’re best avoided. 

Complicated typography: Choose a font that represents your brand’s personality, but try to steer clear of any typefaces that are so artistic, avant-garde or unusual that they’re hard to read. Legibility is the priority. 

Using too many design elements: Your business card needs to communicate basic information in a relatively small amount of space, so avoid too many design elements that can make it look cluttered and distract from what’s important. 

What’s the best platform to design a business card?

Choosing the best platform to design your business card depends on how much you want to invest in your branding. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for! 

The most affordable way to get a business card is to design it yourself. DIY tools, like VistaCreate and Canva are great for testing out colors, typography and branding ideas, or if you’re looking for something ultra low-cost or temporary. Customize templates or, if you have a little design know-how, you can start from scratch. 

Here’s a few platforms you can use to design your own business card:

Canva

VistaCreate

AdobeExpress

Need a design that wows? Working with a freelance graphic designer will help you create a business card that looks and feels professional, and they can be much more affordable than traditional design firms. People with design training are experts at using the power of design to communicate your brand’s unique message. You can choose a freelancer or start a logo contest, where designers compete to design your card for you.

99designs by Vista — A platform that makes it easy for you to start a design contest or work directly with a professional designer of your choosing.

Behance — Browse designer portfolios

Something to remember you by

Why have business cards when people can type your contact details into their mobile phones? Well, business cards do much more than list your information. They help represent your brand, and give potential customers something to remember you by (especially after quick interactions). So it’s important that you take care when designing your business card, and you’ll wind up with something that’s professional and memorable.

Ready to get started?