No longer must a business card follow standard design rules; you’ll find business cards made from all sorts of materials and in all sorts of dimensions, featuring largely imagery or largely text, and everything in between. If you’ve ever been to a trade show—especially one that is creatively oriented—chances are you’ve collected a wide variety of business cards, all of which say something different about the companies they belong to. Here is a brief overview of the many possibilities open to you with business cards, and what your business card could say about you, depending on what you decide to do with it.
Thick cardstock is the standard for business cards. It’s light, practical, and a safe option for anyone. And because it’s the traditional option for business cards, it’s a great way to communicate “business formal” to clients and other companies.
Opting for an alternate material is a creative liberty you can take if you want to communicate that you are creative, modern, or edgy. Wood, cork, plastic, and metal are all unique materials that can be incorporated into a simple business card design, yet show the world that you stand out from the rest.
Your choice of material could even make your business card a tangible extension of your company. For example, a company that works with concrete might print “cards” on small, thin rectangles of concrete, or a construction company might choose a gritty sandpaper finish for the backs of their cards.
Shape & Size
Business cards are typically rectangular and about 2.25 by 3.75 inches in size. This makes them easy to transport and practical for storing in pockets and wallets. But what if you want to communicate something other than “traditional” or “practical” with your business card? The unique shape or size of your card can suggest something about what your company does, or it can at least make your card and company stand out from the rest. Die-cut cards are an especially popular option here. A culinary company, for example, might cut their cards to resemble slices of swiss cheese, or an event planning company might hand out cards that resemble large ticket stubs. Circular cards are also popular for how easily they can be adapted into a creative card design.
Text & Imagery
Is one mission of your company or small business to educate? Perhaps cards filled with useful information—even showcasing a fold-in-half design to fit more text—are the best fit for you. Do you want to communicate “clean” or “easy” with your cards? A suitable business card would have a minimalist design featuring small amounts of text and one or two colors in any imagery. A card that says “bold” might be especially colorful and feature larger-than-usual imagery for a small card. As far as text and imagery go, the possibilities are truly endless.
Even with no other modifications, small finishing touches for business cards can communicate creativity and uniqueness in a subtle way. Some examples of subtle finishing touches are spot gloss, side paint, foil stamping, letterpress type, and specialty inks. These options have the advantage of helping your company stand out while allowing your business card to still say “professional” and “formal” if it needs to.
With the right design, your business card could communicate practicality to other companies and potential clients. This is especially true when a business card can be used for purposes other than simply exchanging information. A home renovation company, for example, might line the edges of their business cards with a ruler, or an eyeglasses company might incorporate a wallet-sized magnifying glass in their business card design. Practical touches, small or major, have a special way of communicating that your company will offer quick and easy solutions to clients.
You can take creative liberties on any one or all of these business card qualities to make your company stand out, and with the right design elements in your business card, you can communicate something about your company’s mission or specialities. No matter what it is you decide to do, remember not to get so creative that you forget what the primary purpose of a business card is: to convey you and your business’s information.