Whether you are a freelancer or you own your own design firm, it is crucial to have business cards for your graphic design business. First we are going to look at the advantages of having a card, and then move on to the decisions that have to be made and the actual design process.
The most obvious reason for having a graphic design business card is to be able to easily provide your contact information to potential clients and employers. You don’t want to be left in a situation where you are promoting your business, and then searching for a scrap of paper to jot down your phone number, email address and website. Having your card on you at all times will insure that you are providing people with clear and accurate information. It is important to look professional and legitimate, and a business card is the first step.
Show Off Your Work
A business card serves as a mini portfolio…the first example of your design work that you are showing potential clients. The design, and message, of the card itself can make it stick in people’s minds and convince them to contact you for their next big project. The card should reflect your own personal style, so people have a tiny glimpse into your work that makes them want to see more. This is not to say a simple card cannot do the trick, but even a basic design can have the small touches that impress your next client.
What to Include
Before working on the actual design of the card, decide what you want to include on it. Most commonly, a graphic design business card will include any of the following:
- Company Name
- Your Name (if different from company name)
- Title or Description of Work Provided (i.e. Web and Print Design)
- Phone Number
- Fax Number
- Email Address
- Website Portfolio Address
- Mailing Address
Having all of these content items on your card would most likely be overwhelming and crowded on the small space of a card. Only include what is essential. Along with these items, consider including a message that will speak to your target audience.
Find a Printer
You don’t necessarily need to choose a printer before you design the card. However, it may be helpful in that you can see the size, paper and other printing options early on in the design process. Which printer you choose may be based on their costs or options such as papers and sizes (discussed next). Perhaps one of the easiest options is to go with an online printer. Online printers often offer low-cost options for business card printing. Most will send free samples at your request, so be sure the quality is what you are looking for at your budget. Most will also provide templates for popular graphics software such as Illustrator, making the design process easier.
Choose the Size, Shape & Paper
The standard business card is 2 inches tall by 3.5 inches wide. This is often the best choice, as it will fit in business card holders and match up with other business cards, and will often have the lowest printing cost. Perhaps you have a design in mind that will work best on a square or round card. Most printers do provide a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as custom die-cuts. Just remember that while you may want to make a statement with a fancy shape, a card should be convenient, both for you to carry and for others to take, and hopefully keep. Don’t make the mistake of choosing form over function. Choosing the standard size but with rounded or angled corners can be a nice touch and compromise. At this point, you should also decide if the card will be one or two-sided. With the low costs of online printers, it is possible to get a full-color, two-sided card at a good rate.
Before completing your business card project, you will also have to choose a paper. This decision will often be limited by what your printer of choice provides. Common choices are glossy and matte finish at different weights such as 14pt. Again, getting samples from printers can help with this decision.
Design the Card
Treat this design as you would a project for your top client. Now that you’ve collected your content and determined the document size, move on to some preliminary sketches. Figure out where each element will appear on the card. Do you want one side to be just your logo, with contact information on the back? Do you want a clever marketing message on one side and all company information on the other? Sketch out your ideas to help make these important decisions.
Once you have a concept or two that you like, it’s time to create the actual design. Adobe Illustrator is one of the best software tools for business card design, because of how well it handles type and other design elements. Check with your printer to see what file formats they accept, and use their templates whenever possible to insure the process goes smoothly. Be sure your document layout is properly prepared for printing. Once the design is complete, the files must be delivered to your printer. While there may be an extra cost, it may pay to get a proof of your design, which allows you to see the layout and quality before going ahead with the full print job.
Always Have it On You
Now that you have put all of this time into your business card, be sure you always keep a few on you! Don’t hesitate to hand it out, and then let your hard work and design do the rest.