The window for making an impression on someone is small, and not all business is done in the office setting. A well-made business card shows people what you’re all about, makes an impression at a glance, but also stands up to close scrutiny.
Creating the perfect business card involves knowledge in two key categories: design and execution. Design covers what you put on your card, the colors and graphics you pull together and how you lay them out. Execution covers the material process of making your business card, including the paper you choose and print techniques you employ. Though most articles discuss how design plays a major role in the success of a business card, it’s equally important to understand the technical components of printing your card. Here are some basic tips to help you print impressive business cards:
Choose Better Paper
The tactile quality of your business card is a major factor you simply can’t ignore. Far too many people leave paper selection up to the commercial printer, or make their selection based on what paper seems the most cost effective. Understanding different paper finishes and weights will help you achieve better aesthetics that match your budget. There are dozens of choices, available with a whole range of features and colors to accent your personality.
Silk Lamination and Varnishing
Applying a finish to the surface of your business card can change the way it feels and improve the way it performs against the elements. For example, silk lamination gives cards a soft, silk like feel. It also makes them more water resistant. Varnishes are usually used to change the finish on the face of the card.
This technique is great for creating thick bi- or tri-colored cards. Duplexing and triplexing involves gluing multiple papers together. Duplexed cards respond well to edge painting because of their thickness, as well as letterpress text denting.
Unless you’re printing an image across your entire card, the brightness and tone of the paper you choose will affect how it looks. Business card papers tend to be between natural cream white tones and true whites.
Size and Edges
Your business card can take on a lot of different sizes and shapes. Common wisdom says borders should be avoided. While they may look good on the screen, the likelihood they print lopsided and ruin the whole effect of your card is too high to risk. However, if you want to be creative, designers have created die-cut business cards that double as useful things like combs or involve movement to take on 3D looks.
Embossing, Letterpress, and Foil
Back when business cards were entirely made up of text and small logos, you had to be creative when it came to making an impression. Today, techniques such as embossing, watermarking, and employing a letterpress perhaps stand out even more because of their uniqueness. Looking for a little shimmer? Metallic foil logos and text are another classic addition that gives a definitive feel to your card.
One of the coolest looks in the printing world today comes from thermography. This printing technique involves a special ink with a powder mixed into it. Once heat is applied, it fuses on the page and creates a raised text that resembles engraved lettering.
Once you have your vision lined up, printing techniques and materials chosen, what now? Here are a couple key things to remember before sending your design to the press (or to your printer!):
Borders and Bleeds
Bleeds let designers know exactly at which point their image ends. Using bleeds is crucial for making sure images don’t get cut off, and the symmetry of your design isn’t compromised during the printing process. If you are interested in using a border around the edging of your card, the bleed will help you make sure it is even. Always use bleeds when designing anything for professional-quality printing.
Did you preview in CYMK before printing?
Make sure your visuals aren’t muddy by previewing your print in the color format it’ll be printed in. Computer monitors use RGB color spectrum to produce visuals, whereas printers more commonly use variations on the CYMK model. Previewing your image the way your printer will see it ensures that the really great color selections you made are true and won’t be muted on the page.
Include Social Media
Whether you are selling yourself or trying to get the word out on your product, don’t underestimate the power of putting social media at the forefront of your push. The way you print your card should allow for space and sharpness to include icons and logos for social media companies as needed.
Got a state of the art website or video you want everyone to see? Consider applying a QR code to your card. This trick is especially good for people whose products are difficult to describe (and are better sold using graphics and video). One of the great benefits of a QR code: you can instantly pull up sales materials in seconds, without pausing to search through Google on your phone. A power move when you’re selling yourself face to face with a potential client.
So you want to create an eye-grabbing business card, but your Photoshop skills are not on the professional level. You can hire a graphic designer to do the job or you can use one of many templates available through online printing services. I’ve used MOO’s templates before and they are both stylish and easy to use.
Understanding the range of possibilities available to you when designing and printing your new business cards will help influence your design as well as unlock your creativity. Employing the right printing techniques while using the right materials dramatically contributes to the overall impact of the final product.