What Not to Do When Designing Your Business Card

When you design a business card, don’t forget it has a job to do. A business card has to make you look good enough that strangers are convinced you can help them.

People have a lot on their minds during a conversation, and it takes seconds for them to forget your name. Others get your card through a referral or event without meeting you face to face. In either scenario, most prospects don’t reach out until they need your services. That’s why you have to give potential customers a solid reason to hold onto your business card.

Business cards have limited space to sell your skills. They also provide lots of opportunities to make a bad first impression, which is hard to overcome. A weak business card design comes across as unprofessional, driving away people who could be a great fit your services.

If you want to reel in leads, make sure you aren’t guilty of these 10 business card mistakes.

1. Missing obvious contact information

It should go without saying that people need contact information to get in touch with you. An attractive business card might win you a few compliments, but it will still get tossed in the trash if people can’t figure out how to reach you.

Before you worry about polishing the design, make sure to include the most relevant details:

  • Business name
  • Personal name
  • Job title/specialization
  • Business website
  • Business address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Social media handles

Always have somewhere to send interested customers. People have different communication preferences, so adding multiple channels is your best chance of getting responses.

2. Outdated information

Would you track down someone who gives you a business card with an out-of-service phone number? How about information that’s been crossed out and written in by hand? No one will work hard to fill in the gaps when they can just go to another business.

Do yourself a favor, and resist the urge to keep using cards that are out of date. Business cards are a low-cost investment with far-reaching influence. Few people want to hand over money to someone who isn’t professional enough to invest in cards with the right info.

3. Typos and misprints

Nothing screams “I don’t care about my business” more than typos and grammatical errors.

While everyone makes mistakes, customers expect you to be thorough and attentive about business matters. So triple-check every detail before sending your design to be printed. Use clear images that won’t turn out blurry or pixelated on the final design.

4. Tiny or unreadable print

Don’t expect people to walk around with a magnifying glass just so they can read your business card. Tiny fonts are hard on the eyes, so avoid shrinking words to cram in more information. A template can help you optimize the space on a business card without sacrificing clarity.

Too much creativity is also a curse. Using decorative fonts that are impossible to read guarantees no one will ever look at your business card again.

5. No value proposition

A selling point isn’t always obvious based on your business name or job title. Customers know exactly why they need a plumber, clothing store, or personal trainer. Most people need a bit more persuasion to hire a social media specialist or internet researcher.

When you’re solving a more nuanced problem, it’s vital to explain how you offer value to others. A value proposition or brand promise is your chance to make a connection with readers.

For many businesses, a simplified job description or keyword will do. If your work is complex, a tagline or brief summary of services can help readers get the big picture.

6. Lack of branding

Playing it safe with generic visuals is a surefire way to be forgettable. Customers are more likely to recall a business card with distinctive branding that stands out from similar companies.

Ditch the stock clipart, and instead, showcase your logo and brand colors. Make the overall design consistent with the visual look of your website, store, or products. Branding your card builds recognition, encouraging customers to associate your business with key services.

7. Too much visual clutter

Imagine how frustrating it is to look at a business card with everything squished together. Multiple fonts are fighting for attention. Five images are cramped onto a 3.5 x 2-inch card. Negative space is nowhere to be found. Words overlap with pictures, making them hard to read.

Not only is visual clutter jarring, but prospective customers assume your business is just as chaotic. If you create too many focal points, most people will just move on. Get rid of redundant content and use a two-sided business card design to spread out information.

8. Harsh color schemes

Poor color choices can destroy a decent design for any of the following reasons:

  • The color scheme doesn’t relate to your brand.
  • The color scheme has connotations that clash with your industry.
  • The colors create visual contrast that’s uncomfortable to look at.
  • The color pairings come across cheesy or unprofessional.
  • The color scheme has too many saturated hues fighting against each other.

Understand how colors work together on paper and affect the balance of a design. For example, pale fonts are difficult to read on a light-colored background. Putting a ton of bright colors together can also wreak havoc on your eyes.

While your brand colors should be the starting point, it’s wise to make subtle changes if it improves readability. Try adding more negative space to break up a design. Avoid super-thin line weights or broken lettering on text.

Another option is to use a simplified version of your logo with fewer colors on a solid background. The visuals are still recognizable, but easier for readers to process.

9. Odd design proportions

You don’t have to be a pro designer to spot a great business card. Good designs naturally achieve the right balance and plant the seeds of brand recognition. They instantly get the correct message across and leave you with a positive first impression.

While you may not realize it, subtle shapes and proportions influence your perception. Is a section of text slightly misaligned? Are there background shapes breaking up the design in weird ways? Is the text spacing too close together? Whatever the case, you notice something is off in a poorly balanced design, even if you can’t put it into words.

Again, templates are a beneficial tool to avoid strange design proportions. Most business card design programs have alignment markers to help you maintain an even layout. You can also use preview features to see the finished design in a realistic size. Decide on a focal point when you begin designing. If secondary elements are most prominent, the design needs retooling.

10. Poor-quality paper

Don’t let a bad paper choice ruin a good design. You may be tempted to go with high-gloss paper, but it can be hard to write on. When you hand out cards at trade shows or networking events, many people like to jot down notes about your business. Instead, pick a high-quality matte card stock that won’t easily bend or tear.

Business cards are deceptively simple, so you may assume it’s easy to create one on your own. A tiny card has to speak volumes about your business and appeal to a variety of customers. Try to leave ego out of the design process and be a merciless editor.

Some business card mistakes are hard to see on a computer screen. To make the most of your investment, work with a company that lets you order samples before committing to a bigger quantity.

Get started: Try our easy-to-use business card maker today!

Articles: 574