A business card is just a business card isn’t it? Well not necessarily; it really can be a whole lot more. With a bit of imagination, some design flair and marketing forethought, a business card can make an excellent first impression, create a great talking point and impress the recipient so much that they not only cherish the card but also request more copies so that they can show it to others! A well executed business card can therefore become a marketing tool which continues to deliver long after you first present it, creating a long-lasting reminder of your service or product, despite a fairly minimal cost.
So how can this be done? Here we’ll start off with the simple, obvious tips and work towards the more radical ideas as we go along …
First, though, a clarification of what’s “normal”: the most common business cards are ‘credit card’ size (85mm x 55mm), usually but not always in landscape format. So obviously this size means that they can be stored easily in top pockets, wallets, purses, credit card holders, business card holders and so on. They’re cheap to produce and incredibly convenient.
1: Unusual sizes or proportions
To be a little bit different you can first consider an unusual size. For example square cards are becoming increasingly popular at the moment, particularly those which are 55mm square as they still have all the benefits of the credit card size. They’re funky and memorable as are ‘mini’ business cards which can be something akin to a ‘half height’ business card e.g. W85mm x H27mm – a really wide format which again still enjoys all the convenience of the standard credit card size but is a little more unusual and therefore a little more memorable.
2: Print on both sides
This one is a no-brainer! We see so many cards printed on just one side but it’s such a missed opportunity. Printing on the reverse side can allow for an attractive design of some kind, another reminder of your brand, service or product, or additional information which might be useful to the recipient. What’s more, printing on the 2nd side really doesn’t add that much to the final cost – you’ve paid for the material already!
TIP 3: Consider rounded corners
Another simple embellishment which adds very little to the cost of your business cards is to request rounded corners. At Firstpoint Print we have a special tool which we can use to give business cards round corners – it’s easy, quick, and economical. More importantly it gives your business cards a modern look and makes them a little different to the norm.
3: Unusual shapes
We can take the above a stage further and give your business cards a unique shape. Instead of being square or rectangular, you could have round business cards, or business cards which are die-cut to the shape of your product. Similarly, if your logo is star-shaped then the whole business card could be shaped in the same way, with a large logo to one side and your contact details on the reverse. A shape such as this will cost extra because a bespoke cutting tool will need to be made but the marketing benefits are potentially enormous. We already know of several companies who use this approach to great effect, their business cards being a replica of the exact size and shape of their actual products. So when they hand out their business cards they can also explain that their product itself is exactly that size and shape – so the business card works very hard as a marketing tool as well as providing all the usual branding and contact details.
4: High quality, eye-catching finishes
Consider matt lamination, gloss lamination, metallic foil, spot UV varnish (high gloss) or a combination of all of the above. This way your business card not only has a great design but also catches the light in unusual ways and feels unusual and high quality too.
5: Unusual textures
It’s also well worth considering the use of unusual card textures rather than the standard ‘ivory card’ which many business cards tend to use. So a nice ‘watercolour paper’ type texture or ‘onion skin’ texture can really lift a business card away from the ordinary, particularly if coupled with some of the other tips like the use of foil blocking, rounded corners etc.
6: Folded business cards
This takes double-sided business cards a stage further. Instead of just having 2 sides, why not consider a business card folded so that you have 4 sides to print on. Or 6 if you have a gate-fold. This will give you extra space to include information and marketing content as well as being a little out of the norm.
7: ‘Mini brochure’ business cards
This is similar to the folded business cards but also includes internal ‘pages’ housed within the outer folded card. So you end up with a business card – perhaps even at the standard credit card size – but it’s also a mini brochure and as such is a very innovative thing to receive as well as allowing you to include lots more sales and marketing content – maybe even product photos – for the recipient to browse at their leisure. Like a standard business card, the recipient is unlikely to throw it away but in this case they are also keeping your brochure. That is more unusual as most brochures usually end up in the bin after a short time, if not immediately. This is a great tip and one which we’d like to see used more often — we’ve barely seen anyone doing it!
8: Business cards incorporating pop-ups
If you’d like something truly innovative, then incorporate a pop-up into a folded business card. It’s more costly to design and produce but a business card which actually ‘does’ something when you open it will be extremely memorable and highly likely to be kept. It is just this kind of card which recipients are likely to request further copies of so that they can hand them out to colleagues, their marketing department or boss. So although they’re more expensive to produce, a business card incorporating a pop-up (or other such action) will work very hard for you and be a lasting reminder of your product or service.
9: Consider unusual materials
Does a business card have to be … card? Well, no! Although we have a vested interest in producing business cards in the traditional way, we also have specialist trade suppliers who can supply us with unique business cards made from very unusual materials rather than simple card. For example one of our trade suppliers makes plastic, shaped business cards which are made from recycled yoghurt pots. Another makes business cards made from wafer-thin photo-etched metal sheets (very impressive to look at and handle, particularly as the level of intricacy is incredible). Need a wooden business card? No problem! Other trade suppliers produce business cards which are not only business cards but also double as tree decorations at Christmas time. These are just a few examples, of course. We have lots of trade contacts so if you have other ideas, we can usually source a good supplier and handle production on your behalf.
10: Think outside the box
We’re straying now into really advanced territory but in theory it’s possible to incorporate sound modules or tiny LED lights into folded business cards in much the same way as you see with commercially produced greetings cards. We’ve seen cards which play a song when you open them, or can record an audio message which plays on opening and there are now even greetings cards which incorporate a video player when opened. Although at the moment they’re terribly expensive we suspect it won’t be long before the price for such video embeds comes down and this becomes possible with folded business cards too.
We know that there are already some companies also working on business cards which have a hidden NFC (Near Field Communication) chip embedded within them. This will mean that a recipient with a compatible smart phone app will be able to do advanced things when coming into close contact with the business card. For instance it might play audio, a video, music, load a website, add the contact details to your phone’s contact list, download an e-brochure or pretty much do anything else a smart phone can do … all because the business card has the NFC embedded in it. For now this is partly possible by printing a QR code somewhere on the business card but the embedded chip approach, which is currently still under development, is likely to really advance what’s possible now and into the future.
11: (this extra one is free!) – Use professional printers & qualified graphic designers
Firstpoint print can help with business card production whether you require cards which are standard or out of the ordinary. For business cards which are out of the ordinary and truly attention-grabbing, commission our team of creative graphic designers who can help you produce business cards which are not only well designed but truly memorable. They’re fully qualified graphic designers and will make a real difference to the success and longevity of your business cards. Contact your nearest Firstpoint Print branch here.
For standard business cards we do of course have in-house digital printing which suits low volume or super-fast printing or in-house litho printing which suits longer print runs and/or spot colour printing. We have 3 London branches: Victoria (SW1), Clerkenwell (EC1) and London Bridge (SE1).
Our thanks go to Tim Cadel at Festive Promotions for allowing us to feature his business card in this article.