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Designing your own business cards

Amy Crabtree is a graphic artist whose artwork is populated by cute characters inspired by Japanese pop culture. As Cakes with Faces she sells t-shirts, prints and bags from her website and at events and comic cons.In her latest guest blog she's here with some great advice for designing your own business cards DIY style.

Inspiration

To get ideas for your design, search on Google for “business card design roundup”. There are hundreds of excellent design blogs, with roundups of creative business card. Now – copying is a bad bad thing and I’m certainly not encouraging this. But having a look at other people’s cards can give you ideas for what’s possible in 85 x 55 millimetres, and is a good way to get yourself in a creative mood for designing your card. If you know the style you’re after, eg cartoon, minimalist or retro, have a quick look on Google images for inspiration and fill your head with the style you’re going for.

Setting up your document

I use Adobe InDesign to create the artwork for business cards, and Illustrator is good too if vector artwork is a major part of the design. The standard size for UK business cards is 85 x 55mm, with 3mm bleed and CMYK colour. Set yourself a margin of at least 3mm, so you don’t place any text or important content too near the edges that could get chopped off. A generous margin tends to look better than cramming as much on as possible, although this will depend on your design. printed.com have handy downloadable templates for InDesign, Illustrator and Quark, and a PDF template.

What’s a business card for?

The aim of your business card is to provide the recipient with your details, and to state what you do. But it’s also there to make a first impression, with visual information about the style and personality of your brand or business. Your card needs to make the right impression so they remember you.

This is where your branding comes in – use your brand’s colours, fonts and style. The design doesn’t need to be serious if your brand is more informal. On my own business cards, I’ve used the cupcake sprinkles pattern that’s the background on my website, so anyone who looks it up will know they’re in the right place. The colours are taken from the pattern and my logo, so everything matches, and I’ve included some of my artwork –cakes with faces being the most appropriate!

Make it interesting

Make your card more interesting than a basic layout on a white background, like a template card from one of those business card vending machines! Play with different layouts, portrait and landscape format, and see how your content fits. Try a coloured background, patterns or images bleeding right to the edges.

Use fonts other than the standard collection that came with your computer! There are lots of free font sites – my favourite is Font Squirrel because all their fonts are free for commercial use. I could spend hours browsing free fonts – not everyone finds them as interesting as I do, but pick one you like the look of and use the “Test Drive” feature to see if it looks good with your text. Make sure your font matches your brand and don’t go crazy – one or two fonts is enough. They’ll also need to be clearly legible at a small size.

Use both sides

Use both sides of your card to make the most of the tiny space you have available. When people pick up cards they tend to turn them over and look at the back – give them something to look at! How about an artistic product photo, your website link in creative typography or your logo with a striking coloured background or pattern?

Details to include

There are no rules about what to include on your card – consider how you’ll be using it and what details the people you give it to are likely to need. How about having one design to give out to customers as a mini flyer, and another design for business to business purposes?

Here’s a checklist of details you might want to include – some are more optional than others…
• Logo
• Company name
• Your name
• Job title
• Postal address
• Directions or a map (eg for a shop)
• Phone no and mobile
• Website
• Social media links – if these are important, include icons to make them more visible
• A word or two about what you do, or your company’s tagline
• A quote or fact about your business or area of interest
• Event dates
• Discount code

Technical points to check

Use guides to line everything up and make the design look polished. Make sure your font sizes aren’t too small. Print it out at 100% to check the sizing – when you’re zoomed in vectors will always look perfect, but they might not look so great when they’re printed.

Print options

Although lots of people say litho is better, I like digital print because you can have as many colours as you want for a lower price. I’ve always been more than happy with the quality – although this does vary greatly between printers so always ask for a sample. The quality of the printing, sharpness, colour and even the cutting at the edges of the cards from some printers is extremely poor.

With printed.com you’re in safe hands, but if you haven’t ordered business cards before, request a sample pack so you can compare paper weights and finishes. For my own cards, I like to order the thickest cards possible so they feel more weighty for a better impression – thinner cards can feel cheap. Silk paper is has a smooth shine to it, while uncoated is more natural and completely matt.

And then there’s the option of lamination, which makes cards slightly thicker and more hardwearing.
Matt laminate has an understated, sophisticated, look, for serious, professional cards. Gloss lamination is all-out super shiny and glossy, has more of a plastic feel, and makes colours look brighter. Cards on uncoated paper without lamination have a more natural look, which suits muted and neutral colours, and also looks great with arty, hand-drawn styles.

Amy Crabtree
Cakes with Faces
www.cakeswithfaces.co.uk
www.facebook.com/cakeswithfaces
www.twitter.com/cakeswithfaces

 

Comments

Stuart Glegg
30 Apr 2013 15:28
Great article, another thing to remember that it took me a while to master is treatment of black. 100K black (C0 M0 Y0 K100) appears slightly dull and if you need a rich black it's best to add some blue (C40 M0 Y0 K100)
Ashley Armstrong
30 Apr 2013 19:15
Brilliant article has helped me to develop my business cards!
Delilah Mackenzie
04 May 2013 21:05
Fantastic article! I'm about to redesign my business cards, I used the sample pack and was so impressed with the high quality of the materials and printing used. I definitely think my company will benefit from developing my cards!
Business Card Design Vancouver
20 Jun 2013 08:43
You have designed well. You have talked about the purpose of the business card, I want to add some more. For me, business cars not only give your contact details to recipient, but also it can be used as an advertiser of your business, if designed brilliantly. So, it depends on you whether you want to use your business card only to provide contact details or as advertiser and representative of your business.
alex hudson
06 Sep 2013 11:58
If you own a business, a business logo design is one of the most important marketing tools you will use. With bold colors and a unique design, the logo design company will drive sales by making it easy for customers to remember your company
alex hudson
06 Sep 2013 12:36
If you own a business, a business logo design is one of the most important marketing tools you will use. With bold colors and a unique design, the logo design company will drive sales by making it easy for customers to remember your company
Bryony Bishop
10 Oct 2017 15:14
I actually judge a company sometimes based on the quality of design in the business card and will decide to go with someone else if I find that the attention to detail just isn't there. Picky? Perhaps.

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