A brand is how your clients "feel" about your company, and a business card is usually the first thing that goes in their hands—a "welcome mat" for your prospects. Regardless of how much of a digital age we live in, business cards are still a tried and true marketing tool that can direct people to call you, or check out your sweet website. An uncompromising business card design will set the tone for your brand and services with a look that your clients are sure to remember.
A business card is your first impression, so it’s important to make it a good one! That is why it’s imperative your business chooses a reputable graphic design firm that can create an effective and impactful design to be printed on exactly the right material by the best printer available. Sure there are cheap alternatives out there that make it easy to do it yourself, with basic, unoriginal templates to be printed on standard ink and paper, but your business card is not the place you want to cut corners—figuratively speaking that is!
If you’re continuing to read this, you’re thinking in the right direction and refusing to settle for a boring, everyday business card. Now where do you start? Well, there are many ways to make that happen for your business, so let’s begin with the most basic, yet vital, part of designing a great business card: the material. Paper is undoubtedly the most common way to go, but there are still many things to consider to ensure you’re using the right type.
The weight of paper, or its thickness, is an integral part to ensuring your graphics and text appear clearly. Determining how heavy your paper should be depends on whether you’ll be printing on both sides, and the longevity you expect from your business cards. As a general rule, we usually recommend going with a sturdy card stock that can hold two sides of ink and withstand the expected wear and tear that results from your clients carrying and storing your card.
Even though most business cards you’ll see are printed on paper, that doesn’t mean that’s the only option available. You can help differentiate your card from others by simply choosing an uncommon material to print on, such as plastic, wood, or even metal. Since paper printing is the most popular method for producing business cards, handing a client a shiny, textured, or semi-opaque business card that’s rigid and long-lasting can instantly grab their attention while giving them yet another reason to remember you.
Once a decision has been made on the specific material that you’re going to be printing your business card graphics and text on, you’ll want to consider additional options that can further improve the look and feel of your final piece. Finishing options such as UV Coating, foil stamping, and embossing can be that final touch to any basic business card.
Another aspect to consider when it comes to choosing your material is the finish. For instance, if you’re going with a more classic look, then a matte-paper (such as linen) would be a fine choice. There are glossy and even satin or silk finishes that work much better with colors and imagery, but offer less durability and legibility with your text. Our graphic designers consider all elements of a client’s card before recommending the best option when going to print.
This unique coating method will add a soft, or velvety, touch to your business card while offering protection similar to UV and Aqueous Coatings. In addition to being an eco-friendly option, Aqueous Coating will also change the appearance of the card to look smooth or luxurious.
UV Coating is a premium coating that can be applied to the entire card or, more preferably, specific graphics or text. UV Coating starts as a clear liquid, which is cured through UV lighting, and results in a clear, glossy finish that’s smudge-proof. For an effect that will reflect the light at certain angles and appear almost raised, UV Coating is a great add-on.
A more economical solution than UV Coating, Aqueous offers another option for making your piece glossy (matte is also available) while offering the added benefit of a protective coating. By applying an Aqueous Coating to your entire business card, you can add longevity to your pieces while they’re being carried and stored by your clients.
The embossing process involves a metal plate and a counter. Your material (paper only) is placed between the metal plate and counter so that your graphic or text, through pressure, will become raised. A few things to keep in mind when using an embossing treatment is that the front AND back of your embossed element and card stock (paper) will be physically altered. You’ll also want to make sure that small text or lines are not embossed, as there is a good chance they will blend together.
Foil stamping is the process of adhering a foil directly onto your business card with a combination of heat and pressure. You can choose from a variety of colors, patterns, and even semi-opaque or glossy finishes. This particular effect works well in combination with embossed elements, creating eye-popping effects for your logo, company name, or even graphics.
Metallic ink is not a foil, it’s a special type of ink that contains real metal particles that simulate the appearance of metal. When printing with metallic inks, the final result is usually less metallic than a foil stamp; although, using metallic inks can produce a more visually appealing business card if you’re going to use this effect on multiple elements.
This technique uses a special powder mixed with ink, which will raise when heated. The results are similar to embossing, where the applied graphics or text will rise above the material, to give dimension and texture. Because this process is more precise than embossing, it works well with text or small/thin graphics. The downside to thermography is that it can only be applied to one side, and you must use a proper paper weight (heavy stock).
Regardless of whatever style of business card you choose, you may want to consider using pre-selected Pantone (PMS) colors. By choosing a Pantone color to print with, available in small swatch-books provided by your designer or printer, you’ll be able to guarantee more color accuracy throughout your marketing materials. This can be extremely important as each printer could produce noticeable variations in the final coloring of your promotional pieces when printing in CMYK. Differing colors can make it hard for your clients to identify your company’s brand at a glance, resulting in less effective marketing campaigns.
Now that you have your material and additional effects/coatings chosen, it’s time to think about the shape of your cards. A standard business card is 3.5” x 2” and can be cut or trimmed in multiple ways. Let’s discuss a few options that can help further highlight the uniqueness of your brand.
Customized shapes can be achieved through a die-cut process, giving your business card a really unique appearance. So if you’re looking to shape your business card into a product you’re selling, an object related to your service, or simply add a surprise element, this can be accomplished through a die-cut.
Don’t be square! Sometimes adding rounded corners or painted edges (where ink is applied to the sides of a thick card stock) can be another, easy way to create a memorable first impression. Since business cards usually gain frayed edges over time, rounded corners can help improve durability and ease of storage.
Once the design process is completed and you’ve chosen your treatments, and you’re ready to print, there’s a few other very important factors to consider. “How many business cards should I print? Where is the best place to get them printed? How long before I can start impressing potential clients with my new cards?” These are all great questions that can be best answered by your designated designer at Green Group Studio. But to help provide some initial clarity, here are a few things to consider to help set your expectations:
Since most of the cost associated with printing your business cards, or any piece for that matter, is directly related to setup, it’s always best to print as many cards as possible in your first run. Now, that doesn’t mean you order one million business cards when you only need a thousand, but it does mean you should typically consider ordering more than you think. When final pricing is given to you by your designer, think long and hard about the potential savings you could get when ordering in larger quantities.
The two biggest reasons that a company would choose a digital process over a press is the cost and speed of printing. If you’re looking to spend as little money as possible and are short on time, digital printing is definitely the way to go. Other than that, and certainly if your budget allows, press printing provides excellent color accuracy, bright colors, easy proofing, a wide range of available paper, many finishing techniques, and the ability to create unique formats/shapes.
Considering the multitude of options and processes that go into making a successful business card, we highly recommend you get personalized advice from a professional designer. For a free consultation on how our team of graphic designers at Green Group Studio can help make your company’s business cards a unique and exciting experience for your clients, call us today at 561-594-7336.