It’s hard to believe with all the options we have for sharing contact information electronically, but the good old-fashioned business card is not going away any time soon. According to a survey by global crowdsourcing marketplace Designcrowd, a whopping 87 percent of Americans still exchange business cards when they meet someone for the first time.
If you think this is an empty gesture done out of habit, think again. More than two-thirds of survey respondents say business cards are useful because they either enter the information into their smartphones or file the cards in a Rolodex. In fact, Designcrowd says the number of business card design projects created on its website grew by 357 percent last year.
Personally, I can see the benefit of quickly exchanging a card along with a handshake, as opposed to fumbling with your smartphone to input someone’s information. Clearly, lots of businesspeople feel the way I do and are churning out business cards.
So how can you make your business cards stand out from the crowd? Here are some trends to consider in business card design for 2014 and beyond.
Incorporate QR codes. QR codes haven’t quite panned out as digital marketing tools, but they can work for business cards as an interactive lead generation tool. If your company sells B2B products or services or is in an industry with lots of tech-savvy, early adopters, a QR code might be worth a try. To make the most of a QR code, make sure it goes to a special landing page on your website where the user can learn more about your business and contact you for more information. For instance, it could be an About page with a video about your business and a click-to-call button or a form they can fill out to get a call from a sales rep.
Focus on branding. Your business card should convey your brand at a glance. This means your logo should be prominent and the overall feel of the card should harmonize with the rest of your marketing materials in terms of colors, fonts and images. The cleverest card in the world won’t do its job if the message it conveys doesn’t jibe with your brand.
Spend more on quality. Generic business cards are a dime a dozen (or 250 for $10), but they blend in and convey a “blah” message that your business is just like everyone else’s. By spending a little more on high-quality elements such as handmade or textured paper, rounded corners, colored edges or embossed print, you can convey an image of quality that makes your business cards—and your business—memorable.
Keep it simple. Business cards packed with information, images and multiple colors look dated and tacky today. Today’s trendy business cards feature clean lines and clear, legible fonts inspired by the “flat design” trend currently popular in website design. Flat design is characterized by a minimalist look. Instead of shadows or 3-D effects, flat design features strong lines; solid, saturated blocks of color; and creative use of typography.
Choose the right font. Clean, sans-serif fonts fit into the flat design trend. They look modern and are easier to read. Use fonts at least 12 point or larger. Also consider how your fonts stand out against the color of your card—if they’re too similar, the card will be hard to read. In contrast to minimal fonts, another hot trend is fonts that look handwritten; these can work great for a business that prides itself on unique, quirky or artisanal products.
Both sides now. How do you reconcile simplicity with the need to include your business website, office and cell numbers, email and tons of social media handles on your card? Try keeping the front of the card clean with just your logo or other image, your name and your business name, then putting the details on the back.
Get professional help. Sure, you can pick your business cards using an online template, but it’s worth spending a bit more to get something uniquely yours. There are dozens of crowdsourcing business card sites where you can get graphic designers to compete for your project, or talk to colleagues to get recommendations for a good designer in your area.
What matters most about your business card is that it reflect your brand and your industry. Here are some cool examples of creative cards I’ve seen:
- Business cards made out of cloth for an apparel designer
- A travel agency with business cards shaped like luggage tags
- Pet groomer business cards shaped like dog tags
- Business cards embossed with 3-D seeds for a landscaper
- A photographer featuring one of her photos as the background for her business cards
You get the idea. Get creative, and your cards will get results! Once you’ve got your cards, check out this post for ideas on how to use them.