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How Does Your Business Card Function?

written by: trieschman•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 1/30/2009

The smallest part of the identity system is the biggest design focus. The humble business card requires a lot of considerations in order to function properly. Learn all the elements to consider in order to produce an effective business card design below.

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    How Does Your Business Card Function?

    The business card is the single most important design piece in a company's identity system. An identity system contains letterhead, envelope, and business card, but it can also include additional elements. The challenge for a business card design is to design a clear and efficient message in a small space that expresses the nature of your business and communicates your needs to your client.

    You may think a business card design is pretty straightforward. Including your contact information and address with your business name and identity and you're done. Not so. For your business card to function to the best of it’s ability, you need to consider quite a few options and probably make notes of the specifics listed below before ever putting design content to paper.

    Elements to Consider

    The first point to consider is how you use your business card. Is it purely for contact information giving? How about appointment setting? Is your business such that you need to educate your audience on your trade offerings? Know how your business card is used by your company and your client, write it down.

    How does your business card function? As a calling card? An appointment setting reminder? A contact source? A small piece of advertising? Is it individualized or company generic; meaning the single card design is used by many people at your company without any personal contact information. Make a list of what is needed to communicate.

    Think about your company’s vision or business statement. This needs to be reflected in your business card design. This small piece of paper is an extension of your company’s uniqueness and personality. Write this vision or statement down. It doesn’t need to be on your calling card but it does need to be considered when designing.

    Know who you are and how your company functions within its sphere of similar companies. This is best explained by not promoting your business to be something it's not. If you are a one-person shop, don’t present yourself as a corporation. Don’t surprise your clientele. Know the impression of your company by your clients and utilize it in your presentation to the public and future clients. Write this down. Write down your competition’s names and how you are different.

    Does your industry have it’s own nomenclature? Do you use it within your company? This can also relate to lingo or abbreviations. You know best if these terms should be utilized on your business card or whether or not they should be left off. This plays a large part of how you present yourself to your clientele.

    Design Phase

    Now the actual design elements found on the business card. Your company name, logo (if you have one), and corporate color scheme is the place to start. Other elements to consider which don’t necessarily need to all be included are: address, your name, your title, phone number, fax number, skype information, URL, email address, and license or bonding information. Having done the prior work thoroughly, you will know what needs to be included. If your clients never come to your location, you may not need your address on your business card. The elements to include need to be tailored specifically to each and every business. Don’t assume because others utilize a certain design that you must also do so. This will cause the function and use of your business card to fail.

    Making your business card stand out from the crowd can assist your business and the image you portray. This happens in the graphic process of the business card and there are unlimited opportunities available. You can choose specialty paper, colors of ink, the inclusion of an image or not, the front and the back of a card, the size of the card, whether or not it folds and so on. All these design choices should aid the function of your business card, but remember; the function comes first.

    Going through this process will result in a highly effective business card for your company. Whether or not you are designing it for yourself or working with a design professional, sharing this information with your design team will aid them in focusing directly towards the best possible results.