At a time when networking is extremely important, freelancers can’t afford to have a business card that isn’t eye-catching. My rule of thumb is if people aren’t complimenting you on your cards, then it’s time to make a change.
After collecting business cards over the years, I’ve seen some pretty interesting and creative designs along with some that just plain aren’t effective. Before going over some ways to ensure your cards don’t fall into the latter group, I think it’s important to ensure all of the proper information is accounted for. When designing cards for myself and my clients, I ensure the following information is included:
1. Your logo. Build brand recognition on every promotional piece you hand out.
2. Your name. Help people to remember who you are!
3. Phone number. If you don’t want people to reach you by your cell phone, don’t put it on your business card. Make sure the contact information on your card is where you can, and want, to be reached.
4. Email address. For many, this is the preferred way to communicate. It’s fast and convenient. Make sure your email address is working properly. Also, it’s much more credible-looking to have an email address that’s the same as your website domain. For example, since my website address is www.13thirtyone.com, it only makes sense that my email address be firstname.lastname@example.org as well.
5. Mailing address. This helps customers and colleagues to remember where you are. It can help others to feel more comfortable when making referrals and to easily locate you in case of scheduled meeting.
6. Web address/blog address. Allow people to find you easily online. If you have a very informative blog, let people know they can use this as a resource. Especially for freelancers, websites are a great portfolio tool; help people find it! Printing your web/blog address on your materials also helps drive traffic to your site, thus increasing your search engine rankings.
7. What you do. If you choose not to include your service type in your logo or in your tagline, be sure it states clearly on your card what service/product it is you’re offering. If someone handed you their business card at a networking function with only a name, logo and contact info, you might be left trying to remember what service it was exactly that individual provided.
Optional pieces of information to add include your company tagline, fax number, hours of operation and your job title, along with anything else you feel is important to include.
Once I have all of the necessary info, I’m ready to start a business card design. Of course I’ll want to be sure to use colors and design details that reflect a client’s branding. However, there are other ways to make business cards more interesting as well, such as folds and shape.
Sharp Edges vs. Rounded Edges
Take into consideration the edges of your business card. A spa, for example, may make better use of a rounded card. It’s softer and feels more relaxed. A very serious law firm, as another example, who likes to keep things simple and conventional, may want a business card that’s a little more straight-forward, thus, the sharp edges may be more appropriate.
If you’d like to make an impression with a pattern, extra design elements or even more information, the double-sided card might be a good choice. Same sized piece, just double the space.
Sometimes all of the needed information just can’t fit onto one business card. Why not give yourself some extra space by doubling the size? By creating a piece that folds in-half to the size of a business card, there’s a lot more room to be gained, thus giving prospects more information, an opportunity to interact with your business card, and creating something a little more unique.
Why not turn your business card into a working brochure? By creating a design that will fold over into the shape of a business card, your promotional piece can do more for you than just offer contact information.
For those who may need a lot of space, and whose budget allows, get creative with an accordion-style fold. This option offers loads of room for design and information. With this style though, it’s important to keep an eye on paper thickness as well. Something too heavy like a card-stock could create significant creases in your design and could be too thick for someone to put into their business card-holder.
There are lots of ways to get creative when working on a business card design. I’ve only discussed folds and corners. Other ways to make an impact include paper type (texture and color), the use of different materials (metal, plastic, cardboard, wood, etc,) and experimenting with die-cutting and funky shapes. It’s important to be sure, however, that the use of folds and materials falls in line with the clients’ (or your) branding image.