Business Card Design Makes an Impact (or not)

Good Business Card Design

Many real estate people will be traveling to conventions this year- big ones, small ones, technology, real estate, blogging, design, etc. I really enjoy these conferences because they give me a chance to get away, meet some interesting people with interesting ideas, and enjoy a tax-deductible vacation. Sweet!

When I return home I will surely have piles of business cards from all sorts of people from different companies and positions. Some I will want to keep in contact with, and some I will want to remember the conversations we had. And while I am perusing the assortment of cards I will, no doubt, be impressed by some of them and disappointed by others.

I offer my suggestions…

Use a high quality paper– flimsy cards just suck. Spend the extra ten dollars and get good paper.

Use the standard size- when you use a card that is larger or smaller (especially) than normal, people cannot stack or organize it with the others. Smaller cards get lost and become a pain in the ass. Be different by using good imagery or design, not by having an odd shape or size.

No standard clip art– Using images that come from standard clip art makes your card look generic, but even worse, it makes it look like you were trying to not be generic and failed.

Have a credible email address– If your business email is or or even you really need to get with a company that will provide you with a company account.

Watch for typos– If you can’t spell your name right you need to go back to school. Pre-school.


Use Color– A bit of color makes the card much more pleasant. Tie-die or rainbows aren’t necessary, but some color can really give your card some punch, or at the very least it won’t be as boring as monochrome.

Have a blank back– When people receive your card they’ll want to write notes on the back about you or your company or your conversation. Or maybe you can write the address to a great local bar so if that person ever makes it to your city they’ll know where to go.

Have a URL– In today’s business world you should have a website to send people to. Whether your business is plumbing or software, have your URL on your card. If you are embarrassed about your current website, or you aren’t totally excited about it, go here.

Business Card Design- Tear Off

No fold-overs or tear-offs– Cards that fold over get caught on things and take up extra space in my pants pocket. And if you do some clever thing like a pop-up or tear off tab, once that cute feature has been done, the card now has a flap hanging off of it and it doesn’t fit anywhere. Remember the first rule in marketing, which is my next thought…

Keep it simple– We don’t need to name call here, but keep your message simple and clear. Have a clean design that is easy to understand and makes a statement.

Readable Fonts– Lettering should be easy to read and, with the possible exception of the heading or logo, consistent throughout the card.

Have an actual designer create your card- Don’t jump on to Publisher and draw up a design. You want it to be polished and look good.

Funny Business Card Titles

Silly Business Card Titles

No stupid titles– We’ve all seen the start-ups where every employee has some “cool”  title like “VP of Fun” or “Director of Computer Stuff”. Having something clever to say is good, lame titles are just lame. And besides, I’m not going to remember every person so if you are the head of technology but your card says “Emperor of Digital Awareness” I won’t know your function and will most likely toss the card.

Simple Business Card Design

Think it through. Many of us have heard of Matt (creator of WordPress) Mullenweg’s business cards that simply say: “1. Go to Google. 2. Type ‘Matt.’ 3. Click ‘I feel lucky.’ ” That’s pretty cool until your google ranking crashes, like Matt’s did and now it goes to another Matt.

Good, Simple Business Card Design

Have a card that shows your image and has some fun. Good design makes an impact. Well, so does bad design, but good design makes the impact you’ll want.

It is good to get creative with images and show your personality, just remember after the novelty wears off your business card needs to serve its purpose so it is prudent to put good design and imagery over novelty.

Now let’s go have a great year!


12 thoughts on “Business Card Design Makes an Impact (or not)

  1. As usual great advice.

    Old folks with tired eyes like mine appreciate a font size that we can read without pulling out the specs – 11 is good – 12 is better. 6 & 8 make me wonder if you really want me to contact you.

    BTW – just because I give you my business card doesn’t mean I want to be on your mailing list – ask first.

  2. As always, great suggestions on business cards. We see our fair share of business card orders that violate these simple design concepts everyday. For those who are creatively challenged, we do provide software online that allows simple business card design (that follows the concepts outlined above) and printing at a low cost. Check us out:

  3. I agree on the “No fold-overs or tear-offs”, but in some cases, it might be interesting to come up with an “innovative” businiss card that still looks professional when the folding or tearing is done. It just depends on what you are doing or trying to represent. An accountant may not be the right person to present a business card like the one in your photo, but a graphic designer can make him- or herself stand out with an original yet professional idea for his or her business card.

  4. I would like to add:
    – If you need to be remembered/trusted, as we usually do, put a photo of yourself on the front.
    – You need to tell (other than already mentioned): what your firm does, why you are good (more suitable than the other guy), where you can be found
    So, print on the other side;
    – “everything from furniture according to measures to church interiors”# (that’s what you do)
    – “25 years in the carpenter business” (thats’s why you are good)
    – a map (you can even mark where it is best to park the car)

    In many countries, like mine, (Finland) there are two main languages. Thus the best way is to use a “double card” that is folded to the usual size. The potential customer can then read it from either side and find his lingua (even if the customer usually understands both).
    Usually the cards where printed here in Finland, in Finnish and Swedish, but nowadays often in Finnish and English, depending on what the company does.

    One more thing:
    – At a fair, the “real buyer”, especially in B-to-B does not want to carry fancy broscheurs the rest of the day, but he needs the info about the company he might make some business with.
    So, at a fair he might collect some 10 – 20 cards and thus you have to be sure that he remembers you )photo, your speciality an dthat you are easy to find [a map])

    I have been on many fairs, domestic and international. I have put a big glass-bowl in front, with some 2000 – 3000 cards, told the potential buyers: “Just write me a line, or phone me, and I will send all these broschures to you…”
    It usually ends with that the guy gives you his business card, and ask you to send the stuff “to that address”.

    And here comes the meaning of your card, well, at least the sub-meaning: To get the potential buyers card. That is worth gold.

    Mark also that a firm usually need a “firm-card”, without any names, but all the other info about the firm. So that even the errand-boy can give a card about the firm when asked, or to put into any envelope that does not directly sell anything; containing bills and such.

    There are also cards that can partly be ads, partly cupouns, but those are long stories. 😉


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