What Does Your Business Card Say About You?

business card

Hopefully you already have a business card, but if you don’t you should definitely create one. Business cards are something that we take for granted when we shouldn’t. The look, feel, and message on a card help people determine how they view you and more importantly, if they will even remember you.

When you leave a conversation and the other party has your business card, your identity is that piece of paper. Because of this representation, your business card should not only state who you work for, your contact information, and what you do, but it should also state something about you. Not in a written sense, but more so on the overall image it creates about you.

For example if I were to hand you my business card you would probably get the feeling that I am a warm and friendly person due to the following reasons:

  • The card is thick, yet feels soft.
  • Corners of the card are rounded
  • The card color is green
  • The typography is a bit rounded

The main reason I had the card created with these qualities is because when I hand it to people, I wanted it to communicate a warm and caring feeling. This is important to me because I actually do care about others and I want to make sure people remember this and stay in touch.

If you don’t have a business card and are looking to create one, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Color – we usually take colors for granted, but there are meanings behind them.
  • Paper – the quality of your card says something about you. The last thing you want to use is cheap paper or a material like metal which doesn’t allow others to write on your card.
  • Uniqueness – if your business card doesn’t stand out in a pile filled with other cards then the chances are people won’t remember you by looking at your business card. You need to make your card unique somehow.
  • Typography – fonts have a voice, so choose one that best represents who you are and make sure to choose one that is easy to read.
  • Feel – touch is an important sense that we all have and your business card should appeal to that sense. If you want to represent that you are a soft and gentle person, make sure your card is soft and has rounded corners. If you want to represent that you are a corporate person who is very structured and ridged, you probably should have a hard business card with sharp corners.

Before you hand your business card to someone else, you need to make sure your card has the information it should but also truly says something about you. This will help them remember you and at the very least stay in touch once in awhile.

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  4. daveavenue» Brand Thyself (The Agony of the Personal Business Card)
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  6. 48 Unusually Brilliant Business Card Designs | The Daily Blog Awards

Comments

  1. Neil, can we see an image of your card? Your post has my interest piqued!

  2. Sounds like it’s time to ‘pimp’ ye olde business card for SES SJ. Although you can take the bling too far – remember the awesome scene in American Psycho where the VPs are comparing their business cards?

    ‘Oh my god! It even has a watermark’.

    One tip: Leave some clear (preferably white) space on the business card where the card giver or recipient can write stuff.

    For eg. if I receive a card from Neil, I might write on it “SEO princess, talked about crazyegg”. When I follow-up with an email or add them to LinkedIn/Facebook etc I’ll at least associate the card with a person or conversation.

  3. Neil, care to share any printers that can do custom cards? The local office max and staples definitely has budget lower quality stuff.

    • I don’t know of any printers that can do custom stuff. :( I usually get mine printed outside, but that costs me around a dollar a card for an order of 1000.

      • I have found success with VistaPrint.com . They do a low-cost job with a quality result. They don’t offer anything too fancy in the paper department, but the default matte cardstock is the same quality of many high-dollar cards I’ve seen.

        • I would not recommend VistaPrint. The cards are quite a bit smaller than most and the print quality is not good. I spent a great deal of time designing my card and when I got them back was really disappointed with the print quality and size. I paid extra for a glossy finish and only the front was glossy, the back was matte. Alternatively, I uploaded the same design to PrintsMadeEasy and am in love with how great they look and feel.

      • A dollar each card is quite expensive. They charge 5 to 15 dollars here in México for 100 cards without including the design. And yeah, its quality printing.

    • If you still need help with print. 832-961-7193

  4. I recently ordered my first set of business cards. I decided to go with moo.com and use their MiniCards. They are smaller than normal business cards (helps to differentiate myself) and I designed 5 images, which means that people can pick the card they like the best :)

    They should arrive today and I’m hoping the quality is good as I really like the service. I’m intending to do a post on my site about the cards, probably some time next week.

    • Ben,

      When your cards arrive from Moo.com, can you leave a follow-up comment here to let us know how satisfied you are? I’ve been considering Moo for a couple of other uses but haven’t met anyone who’s actually got their stuff in hand. Thanks!

      • I have ordered cards from moo.com before and I wasn’t satisfied. The company logo was pixelated on the MiniCards.

      • They arrived at the weekend. I am pretty happy with them.

        I actually ordered 5 designs and some came out better than others. Thankfully my favorite one came out the best :)

        The print was a little pixelly on one of them but it was pretty low contrast to start with. Personally I think they are pretty cool, and I would get them again, but I will be tweaking my designs for future versions.

        • Be sure to create your images and save your business card image files at 300 dpi. Most programs default to 72…which will come out pixelated even on a small scale can pixelate enough to be noticeable.

          I am not vouching for the vendor’s print quality. I have just had it happen to me on a newsletter.

        • I’ve placed multiple Moo card orders and have been really happy with them. It’s best if you optimize your images specifically for them. I do use them for business and have gotten great response, but I do shoot for a more personal creative image. I use a variety of images from my travels (which I also have on my website).

          It’s a great conversation starter for two reasons: 1. people want to know where I got these fun mini cards, and 2. people want to know what the image is about. I’ve had a number of people tell me that they’ve shown my card to others (because it’s different) and also kept my card sitting on their desk (because they love the image).

          In my opinion it’s a perfect networking tool.

  5. Great advice! Another thing people should remember is the business card is used for people to have your contact information – it should not be cluttered up with services and all kinds of information. That is what your website/brochure is for. Too much information on the business card can turn people off :-)

    • I personally am a fan of listing out services as long as it can be done in a non-cluttered fashion. When someone picks up your card they should know what you do.

  6. hi, Neil, how’s everything going?

    Great post! Here are my extras:

    Size: use a standard size. It should fit in someone’s wallet. It should fit in their business card holder. It should fit in their rolodex. size /can/ differentiate you, but it can also make someone throw away/fold/lose your card, or can make them think “this person’s difficult”/”this person didn’t really think about how people were going to use this thing”…

    Paper: thicker is better, natural is better. Don’t buy that perforated “tear-it-yourself” business card paper from Staples – people will see the edges & just think “cheapskate”.

    Color: if you’re going for a solid back colour, you should probably use coloured paper rather than printing that color on white. Don’t just think “red is angry, blue is cold” – the tone is more important than the base colour (eg. are you pukey green? moss green? clean green? grass green? mint green?). Honestly, if you show the colour to a few people & ask what they think of it & they don’t react badly, you’re probably fine. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the colour on your screen will turn out exactly the same on paper either. It will probably be slightly darker & slightly duller. If you’re a perfectionist it’s worth seeing a test on paper before handing over a whole bunch of money!

    Feel: I don’t think corners is really a huge issue. many people won’t even notice. many people will just think “oh, rounded corners”, rather than “what a cuddly guy”. Some things you could do with touch: put a spot gloss on your name/logo (this makes it shiny & feel different); print your details in braille on the card under the text (have you ever seen this? me either, but think what kind of impression it would leave – bad pun); emboss your name/logo (this punches the shape into the card so that it feels raised from the rest).

    Copy: This is the big one – what does it say? Every time someone looks at your business card, you have a chance to say something to them. You can try to put things across through colour, type, design, etc (which may or may not work, may or may not be understood, etc) or you can just take the cheat route & say it straight. Even something totally basic like “Hi, my name is Neil, I know a whole bunch about personal branding” probably says more than a plain card with “Neil Patel. Personal Brand Consultant” ever could.

    Design: Most of us aren’t great graphic designers. If you are one of the many who aren’t, the best bet is to keep it simple: plain colours on a block colour background, etc. If you’re worried your card isn’t going to stand out, there are some cheats: print on black/dark card (most are on white/beige); print your name BIG (most people use tiny text, & for no good reason); keep it to the bare minimum (eg. name / phone number only – leave the rest blank); print a negative image version on the back of the card (with all the writing mirrored- simple, no design skills necessary, leaves an impression); use metallic/flourescent ink. If you want to do something really different & personal, but you have no idea at all about design, a couple of good starter books are “the non-designers design book” & “stop stealing sheep & learn how type works”.

    If you’re intent on doing something ultra-unique but you don’t have any clue, here’s a good little source of inspiration: http://dailypoetics.typepad.com/photos/business_cards_and_other_/p1010063_1.html

    Another tip: if you’re going to use a designer, do 2 things: take a look at business cards they’ve made before & make sure you like their work. Also – don’t tell the designer “i want a blue card with bold text and a big logo”, tell them “i need a card for my pet-grooming business. i want to appear approachable, cool, modern, not too pricey. i’ll be giving it to my clients to remember my number & hopefully to get them to tell their friends about me. maybe i’ll give it to people i meet in town too & i’d like them to visit my website to find out more.”

    which leads on to…

    Purpose: There are actually a few purposes for a business card other than reminding the recipient of who you were when they’re looking through their cards. it’s worth bearing them in mind:

    extra purpose 1. to enhance / make your initial meeting memorable. If someone asks you about your card or says “wow, that’s cool”, your card just made you a better first impression, made *you* memorable & gave you a decent opening to show them how you actually are unique.

    extra purpose 2. to make you contactable – is your phone # on there? is your name on there? is your email addr on there? your address? your url? if not, you should have a genuine reason!

    extra purpose 3. to sell *you*! what do you want the recipient to know about you/what you have to offer? a simple example – say you’re a dentist & you’re trying to grow your client-base, you could just stick a simple “10% off whitening with this card – share me with your yellow-toothed friends!” & hand everybody 2 or 3 cards instead of just 1.

    Hope that’s useful!

    daniel

  7. Can I post my card for your review Neil?

  8. You can see it here.

    Thanks

    • Here are some of my thoughts:

      If there is no back I would consider creating one.

      The design on the card is creative which is good because your are a designer, but one thing I would have done differently is made it a bit more simple and bold such as this card but with less text and more of a personal touch.

      I am not sure what type of paper you printed your card on, but in your case I would use a thick paper that is soft.

      Overall the card is pretty good… and I do apologize in advance for the lack of input. It is usually easier to give feedback when a card is in my hand.

  9. check out http://www.shineboxprint.com … great concept for business cards / calling cards.

  10. Men used to, and still do, laugh at me when I would tell them that a card should be “sensuous”. Of course they were moving withthat word to someplace I wasn’t actually going, but his post resonantes with what I try to explain to so many. Your presentation has to play the senses on a primal level.

    It deserves a great deal of consideration!

    Kudos!

  11. This reminds me of the scene in American Psycho where the business guys sit round a table discussing their business cards….

    But seriously, you make some good points.

    I’ve got some moo.com cards – they stand out at the moment and I’ve had some great feedback from people I’ve given them to. But as more people get them, they’ll start to look more standardised. Some limitations: (i) you can’t personalise the font much (ii) they are a bit small to get most business info on them. And worst of all, one card came apart – the picture on the back peeled away from the text part. I’ll probably not be getting them again when this batch runs out.

  12. I agree with the statements about MOO minicard’s diminishing and lackluster ROI. As they continue to get hyped, I think that they are exponentially losing their chic status. However, not to bash moo.com, their product would be right at home as high school graduation party favor.

    I think that alternative form factors are definitely expressive, but even more than an oddly shaped card, I think that different card materials can convey a message about your business. While some plastic cards are pretty gimmicky, I’ve seen them pulled off well.

    The most outrageous card I’ve seen is the Growing Business Card.

  13. If you’re interested in the how and why from business cards read this article from 37signals

  14. Neil, which printer do you use? is the company online, I’m having my graphic desginer friend help me design a card, but I want to know where to print it, and online there are a lot of companies. so if you use one of the ones that is online, I’d like to know which, or which you have used in the past

    • I don’t use an online service, I don’t remember who we use because it has been months. The trick with business cards is to get them to print a test run and if you like the card, then you print however many you want.

  15. You can get very nice business cards printed at printing for less (www.printingforless.com). We use them for cards, mailing postcards and other items. They are reasonable and their turnaround time is very good.

  16. I like your content, but your site’s fonts are gray and so hard to read off white. You should heed some of your own advice.

    • Sorry about the hard to read text To make it even worse, when I first installed the WordPress theme it was even lighter text and smaller writing. I guess I’ll have to wait for the designer to finish the design and then hopefully the text will be easy to read.

  17. Good points you have recommended “to keep in mind” here, however I’d like to point out an aspect that has been neglected–scent. Applying wax-based and other perfumes to business or “name” cards is a Japanese tradition that is an additional way to make your cards stand out from others. Giving your cards a smell makes them unique and draws upon the sense of smell as one of the most closely related to memory.

    • The other sense you can appeal to is hearing. They have business cards that talk, but they are too expensive and a bit cheesy. I do like the idea of scent though.

    • S. Rose Jones :

      Be careful about adding scent. Many people are very sensitive to or even allergic to perfumes and will not appreciate you handing them something that will make their wallet or purse unapproachable. I’ve had to spend days airing out a purse after unwittingly accepting a student packet on campus that had scented products in it and I assure you that any appreciation I formerly had for any advertiser in the entire packet was significantly diminished due to that experience.

  18. Ethan Lee Vita :

    I have never really thought about such details. Thank you for the insightful post. I do not have a business card yet, but do plan to get some printed soon.

  19. Business cards are something that I have been ‘putting off’ for my new business. I’m really glad that I ran into such an excellent post when I did. Great post!

  20. I was talking to my husband about business cards and he thought, now…bear with him on this….that scent might be something that they have neglected to add as a sense that could be incorporated into the card. Not the sort of thing that knocks you over, but something faint that is a pleasant reminder.

    Creative fellow, my husband.

  21. Stephen Colon :

    I ordered a stamp that was about 1/6 the size of a business card, bought a punch-out sheet of business cards, and stamped my information in random angles all over the sheet, then tore it apart, and it really gives off a lot of the feel that I wanted it to. The only problem is that the cards feel cheap, being that they’re the kind made for printers and are pre-perforated. I’m thinking about doing it with cardstock and paper-cutting it to give off a more quality feel, but then again I sort-of like the “can make something cool out of cheap stuff” part of it. I don’t know, I’ve been known to be indecisive.

    • Good business cards don’t have to cost a lot of money. I like your idea of trying to make a quality card for a cheap price.

      Only dumb idiots like me pay a lot for business cards. ;)

      • Mark Petereit :

        Buy a ream of high-quality 8.5 x 11 card stock, stamp all over it like you did with the perf stock, then take it to any small mom & pop print shop that has a hydraulic cutter and ask them to cut it to business card size. Pathetically inexpensive for the cutting — some may even do it for free, since it only takes a minute and could net them another customer.

  22. It’s good to go with glossy or matte but something that protects the front… and regular back with white so you can write on it.

    We just ordered a ton of cards from overnightprint.com. Not the best quality, but these are for mass distribution.

  23. My wife and I went with LogoWorks.com
    Expensive, but worth it to create a professional looking logo, business card and stationary.

  24. Here is my comment on the whole biz card thing.

    Simple, Clear, One Sided.

    Your card should be easy to read with a clear phone number, url and email. It should only have one side. The back side is for writing notes on.

    Rounded corners and die cuts are a waste of money.

    Just print your information in a legible form on a standard sized card and use a decent paper.

    Look at other card’s from your industry. If you are a designer then maybe you can get fancy, but if you are not don’t bother. Keep it simple.

  25. NEVER go the cheap route on business cards. It’s the piece of paper you leave behind. it’s also important to make sure that your business card is consistent with your profession. Don’t have a fancy business card if you’re not in a “fancy” profession. A graphic designer should have an expression of his/her creativity. An accountant probably shouldn’t have an adding machine shaped card…

    Cutting done cheaply is just as bad as cheap cards because you have all that fringe hanging off the sides, the waste that isn’t cleaned away when it’s done cheaply.
    $1 per card is exorbitant, especially if you’re in offset!!!
    ALWAYS see a sample on paper before authorizing the job because colors SO vary from screen to paper and from pantone card to paper. Some papers are more absorbent than others, or some textures don’t hold the color as you may envision it. I made a great friend with my typographer through the business card process… My graphic designer designed a VERY DIFFICULT card to print and at the end of the day the typographer told the print technician: watch her– do NOT run this job until she says OK, because if you do, she’ll make you do it over!
    anyway… lots of good advice on this page.

    check out these examples:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dailypoetics/sets/72057594104389710/

  26. oops. I meant to copy the link to the BUSINESS CARDS set/group on Flickr…

  27. The layout is the most important part of a business card. The card is like a first impression. You have alot to say and very little space. Give only the basics, never clutter up the front of the card. Business name, physical address, your name and all the contact information you can. A symbol, logo or trademark and possibly a slogan as well. Leave as much space as possible. Use white or light paper, black ink for the info, and color for the design element. In the old days all cards had the same look and printing on the back was a no-no. Today the front of a card can be all business and look very professional while the back can be used for just about anything from space to fill in appointment information, prices for services, or moving the design element to the back so you can enlarge your logo. So do a test printig before final approval. When I make them on my computer I print a page of ten and ask my friends to evaluate the cards. I have a background in printing so I always get the layout right but I need to see the impressions others get when they look at the card. Like market research. I once had a competitor steal a card design.

  28. The fact that Neil Patel does not show his card and instead makes up all kinds of excuses about not having a camera, it proves he should not even posted this about business cards. You can copy paste any info off the net about having the right kind of business cards to represent you, so what makes Neil Patel so special? LMAO..sorry dude..you did yourself in this time. You are hiding behind your computer and very quick to point out the pros and cons about business cards but you yourself shy away and make up excuses when someone asks you to show yours…Way to go india..

    • Appreciate your input. I personally feel that I don’t hide behind my computer and am not a shy person. I go to 2 to 4 conferences a month and you can ask anyone at those conferences if I am shy. The consensus will show that I am crazy and enjoy interacting with others.

      The main reason for me not having a camera is that I am cheap. I don’t mind spending money on others, but I hate spending money on myself.

  29. well, I just wanted to say thanks for the article, and thanks to everyone for filling it up with lively conversation. Some people get pretty rude tho. jagoffs.

    As far as getting your card printed online, I learned my lesson and will never get my cards printed by an online provider EVER. Sloppy service, sloppy printing, slow responses, bad customer service, etc… Plus, no quality control, I can’t see it or feel it, and if they do a bad job, too bad.

    Instead, I would say to every aspiring designer and even the seasoned pros that supporting your local print shops, while they may be more expensive at first, is the SMART way to go. Supporting local business is a great idea anyway, but your local printer is a team player, look them up in the phone book, call around, and find one that is friendly. Chances are you can form a kind of partnership, since more work for you means more work for them, and if you use them a few times, they are more likely to give you BIG discounts. Also, when it comes to printing, if they do a crappy job, hey are more likely to redo it for free since they know you. Its a symbiotic relationship and they are willing to help you out if you can bring them more business too.

    I hope that was helpful, at least a bit of my experience. I’ve designed business cards that suck b/c the client has wanted an assload of info on there, but the customer is always right (and his picture on the back of the card with other people’s names on the front)….

    • Thanks for the input. I am the same way and prefer getting things done by the local artist at the print shop because they CARE about their work. When people care, the job just turns out much better.

  30. Excellent post, a business card is your personality, however, most people, don’t see it as that. Just as an advert. A professional business card means you are a pro.

  31. Hi -
    Thanks for the article! And so nice to see comments that continued the dialogue. Ive gotten good ideas from everyone!

  32. Got a photo of your card yet?

  33. ¡RRosa! :

    Hi! well…
    Hi, my english is not very good, so, sorry for that!.

    Im designing a bussines card for a kind of ophthalmologist that have 30 years on the bussines with the same logo and the same colors and for him, that works.

    I want to respect his traditional ways (he is a mature man) but i want to make a good design.

    He got a circular logo with bold letters and bold strokes in yellow and black… Its a little dificult to make this colors and shapes loock unique…well this is my job but i need an advice, im starting in this.

    I will be glad if you give me some advice!.

  34. this post and this guy are a joke – “I don’t have a camera, I don’t know how to upload pictures – I’m slow, I’m cheap”…way to go man – the first time I visit your blog, great impressions…

  35. Mate I deperately want to see your card.If you are not interested,please post some great cards you have seen,

    Thanks

  36. Wow this is was a huge comment thread! I have the design for my cards and had not thought about the texture or feel of the card yet. Thanks Neil, all your post are a great help to me as a young unformally-educated small business owner!

  37. Hey everyone. I see that some people wanted some examples of Patel’s business card. Since he doesn’t have it anymore, check out this link of unique business cards.

    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/20/effective-business-card-design-better-than-a-plain-ol-business-card/

  38. WOW! I seriously just sat here and read through alost all of these posts… what a following! Neil, what did you do to promote this blog so? What are your hidden techniques? LOL I wish I could get my blog to take off like this one.. (of course it’s only been up a short time so.. I’ sure after 2 yrs it will have this much response)

    Anyways, I am trying to design my business card now and have had nothing but problems.. should a picture be on there or not. Should I use color or not I am torn, if there is a good designer that reads this anytime soon please call or Neil email me lets chat…

    BTW what do you do now?

  39. Kriszia Vengua :

    Excellent article. There’s been others who have touched on the topic, but none of them has been this concise, not to mention useful.

  40. Yes I agree as it helps and spreads the word.

  41. I also think good paper, eye catching design, a nice punchline and good typography are essential of good business card. Besides this if you can do something innovative with your card its even better.

  42. These are really impressive card but i never use such type of cards

  43. Beautifully said. And as a designer, if my own cards didn’t reflect what I do and my own design point of view, then I shouldn’t be doing it.

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  45. leave the comment for the business card

  46. peter northouse :

    Do you have samples of people who have business cards with their StrengthFinder strengths listed on the back?

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