BLOG: Eye-Popping Tips

From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Business Card Layout: Make Your First Impression Last — Part 1

Let me tell you about the last home show I went to. It was your typical home show with lots of booths, pretty displays, loads of freebies. But I wasn’t interested in all that. I was on a mission. I needed a landscaping contractor to take my dismal, ordinary backyard and turn it into Fantasy Island. Not too much to ask, right?

I was prepared to spend all day, if necessary, talking with every last landscaping contractor there in order to find someone to make my dream come true. So I grabbed a tall mocha on the way in, took a plastic goodie bag from the entry table, and set off to find me a contractor.

Not as easy as it sounds. Everyone seemed to have a great deal going, and the displays were all so gorgeous, and pretty soon all the people I met seemed to blend together! On the upside, I did collect a lot of pretty brochures to put in my bag, not to mention some nifty water bottles and key chains.

When I got home later that evening, I slipped on some comfy clothes, sat down with a cup of hot tea, and started sorting through all the business cards I’d collected. But, I had so many cards it was hard to remember who was who! Which one was the guy that specialized in outdoor kitchens? And the one that did those waterfall scenes, which one was that? Ahh!

I don’t remember what everyone said. I just remember what I liked. But it was hard to tell anyone apart from this stack of cards! Is there a way to set yourself apart from the crowd with just your business card layout?

Absolutely! A business card, while small in size, is your big weapon. Here are 7 topnotch tips to keep your card out of the wastebasket and into the rolodex! (I’ll give you my other 7 in my next post)

The First Top 7 Business Card Layout Tips:

  1. Choose a cover stock with some meat on it! Ever pick up a card that is just wimpy? You know what I mean, the kind that bends right in your hand, and by the time you get back to the office it’s a crumpled mess. It’s cheap paper, and shows other people that you might be cheap in your business practices, too. Go see your printer, get a free swatch book, and feel the difference for yourself. This is your first impression, so make it a strong one!
  2. Create a focal point — something that really stands out — to draw the reader’s eye. Maybe something in a contrasting color, or a unique graphic. Use your imagination.
  3. Your logo should be clear and strong, and should still look great when it’s reduced down to fit on a card. Think about that when you’re designing your logo, because it should be the same on every print item that you put out.
  4. Remember, in marketing less is more. Don’t make your reader work by having a lot of text to read. Use white space to balance the layout, and just give enough information so they know what your specialty is.
  5. Use a highlight color sparingly, and only on the one main message you want to get across. Too much, and it loses its effectiveness.
  6. Also, on the highlight color — make sure the color fits with the type of business you have. I can’t tell you how many of those landscaping cards used red or brown, when green would have been perfect!
  7. You should have no more than two type fonts on your cards, which also include their “families” — bold, italics, and bold italics.

OK, now you are all set to let your little business card layout do big things for your business! If it’s the first impression people get about you, you want to make sure it’s a memorable one. Your success depends on it!

Here’s an example of an amateurish business card layout:

Sample of a Bad Business card layout

This well-designed, conventional 2-color business card layout that uses one spot color plus black ink.

business card layout

This well-designed business card layout uses one spot color and black ink with a grayscale photo.

business card layout

This dynamic full-color card uses 4-color process inks. The photo is cut out of its background and bleeds off the bottom of the card for maximum impact.

business card layout