How to design a business card: 10 golden rules

A business card represents the next step in making your small business dream a reality. And for many potential customers, it's 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 carry your contact information. It will make you look professional, build trust in customers, and set your small business apart from others. But before you start giving out business cards to everyone you meet, stop and ask yourself: What makes a good business card? How can you make it stand out, and ultimately bring in more business?

The answer: A careful combination of the information you include, and how you present it. Here, we're giving you 10 essential tips on how to design a business card that best represents you (and your business!). Be on the lookout for advice from Tristan Le Breton, Creative Director at 99designs. 99designs is a creative platform that specializes in connecting graphic designers with their clients 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. Do double duty.
  6. Maximize your logo.
  7. Leave some white space.
  8. Add something special.
  9. Include a call to action.
  10. Proofread.
1

Find a template that reflects your brand's personality.

Your business card says a lot about you and your small business...so, choose a design that reflects your brand. Maybe you're an interior decorator who specializes in modern styling and loves clean lines - reflect that with a template that's clean and simple. Or, perhaps you're a dog walker with an outgoing personality - reflect the fun nature of your business with a colorful, less formal card.

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If in doubt, talk to a designer. Swap services with a friend who specializes in print graphics to make sure your business card design aligns to your brand - or check out Vistaprint's Design Services.

2Find the right typeface.

If there's a font you've been using on your website or other marketing materials, bring that into your business card. The font you choose should represent your brand - maybe an elegant script if you're an etiquette coach, or typewriter-inspired font if you're a writer - and be easy to read. All of your text should be at least 8 pts., but more important information (like your name or business name) can be printed in 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."

3Settle 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 enterprise 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 to stand out, consider using a square shape, rounded corners, or vertical orientation.

4Organize your information.

Speaking of information...your business card should give customers everything they need to contact you, find you online, or locate your storefront. 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 the way they feel most comfortable.

When you're adding your information to your business card template, consider the way you lay it out. Each piece of info should be clearly distinguishable, but flow nicely with one another. "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 suggests. "You can always alter the visual flow by adjusting an element's size, shifting its location, or adding additional white space."

5Do double duty.

Make your business card work twice as hard for you and your small business. Use the reverse side for appointment reminders, loyalty stamps, or as a blank canvas to showcase something about your business. 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 refrigerators for easy, top-of-mind 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.

6

Maximize your logo.

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 - 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.

How we can help

Once you have a logo, aim to create a complete identity for your brand. You should have a collection of colors and fonts to use in all of your marketing materials, a tone of voice that you'll use in all communications, and an overall idea of the "vibe" of your brand. If you haven't created a logo yet, outsource the design process to us - our Design Services team is here to help design your logo, website, marketing materials, and more.

7Leave 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. (And remember - you can utilize 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 off 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.

Tristan reminds us that "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."

8Add something special.

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

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 hard-to-forget 3D feel.

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 a less glamorous line of work, it might feel odd to add a shimmery foil accent to your business card.

9Include 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 energize 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 promotion. We suggest placing the code on the back of your business card - this ensures it's easy to scan, and won't take away from your logo on the front.

10Proofread...and 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 cards for spelling errors. If you want to be *extra* sure that your card is perfectly proofed, enlist the help of a copyediting professional. Since there is such a small amount of text on a business card, it should be a relatively quick, low-cost task.

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