This is a guest post by James Adams.
While I’m the first to say branding is about more than just a few business cards and a slick logo, branding literature is still important.
Really, there’s something to be said for putting your best foot forward, and quality business cards can be a marketing tool well worth the investment, that allow you to do exactly that. So keep reading for some tips from James to insure your business cards are tools you can be proud of.
When starting a new venture, one of the most important tools for getting your message out is a set of professional-looking business cards.
Information on the card is far more important than colors and fonts, but the immediate impression made by the quality of the paper and print will determine how seriously your business is viewed.
Competition has brought down the cost of professionally printed cards, but unless you can use hundreds of cards before your contact information changes, you might want to design and print just a few cards at a time.
Follow these guidelines to produce a high-quality card that does not look homemade, minus the expense!
1. Copy Professional Techniques
Look through all the business cards you have collected from every imaginable source. Group them by industry and profession. Evaluate each pile of cards and notice the distinct fonts used by the professional printers.
Most popular software packages offer those same fonts. Find a card from your collection that has unique placement of all the information. What appeals to you about that card? Why do you like to look at the card?
Copy every aspect of that card with your own information. Ask another person to look at the card and ask for their reaction. Combine two or more cards and make your own design.
2. Find a Simple, Striking Image
Most clipart images on the internet are available for use by anyone without concern about copyright violations, and there are hundreds of thousands of professional images available under the Creative Commons license.
Whatever your business, make a list of possible images that will stay with a potential customer. When you watch television, watch for the logos of the nationally-known companies that have displayed the same signs and logos for decades. Those images stay with people because they convey quality and value.
Choose a simple picture with clean lines that would be appealing if printed in one color. Gather a few choices and ask for input from a friend or family member. Choose the image that will shrink to a clearly printable size. Print a few of these images and see how they look on the corner of a full page of paper.
Visualize how this image would look on the side of a vehicle. This one image could be around for years and must convey a clear message without explanation.
3. Use High Quality Paper
Many specialty papers are available with perforated business cards. Some have printed designs or borders and multiple colors. Glossy paper will print crisper images and wear longer.
The color within the paper can convey a multi-colored card when only one ink color has been used to print the information. Weight of the paper will convey quality so choose stiff card stock that is not flimsy. The edges of the cards must be “clean edge” and not “micro-perf.”
Even if you choose to print the cards on a standard piece of card stock paper and then cut the cards, the cards will look more professional than a card with a ragged edge. Also, most cards with “micro-perf” edges are flimsier and are impossible to slide into a card file without bending the card.
4. Use Soy-based Ink
High-quality ink that has soy oil as the vehicle to carry the pigment will provide vibrant colors that stay consistent over time. Soy ink will not rub off like the traditional petroleum-based inks.
When you print the business card on a high-quality paper with soy ink, the image will appear exactly like the one on the computer screen. Soy inks can be used in laser printers without distortion of the color hues.
Soy-based inks are comparable in price to their petroleum-based counterparts and tend to stay more consistent in price when oil prices rise. Many printers report using far less soy ink for equal numbers of printed pages.
5. Print Using a High Quality Printer
Whether you have to borrow or purchase a printer that can produce professional-looking documents, research the printer models that allow sufficient control over the print settings.
Very fine printing is achieved by the print head and can be directly affected by alignment functions controlled from the software. Printers that allow the print heads to be aligned prior to printing an important document will produce consistently sharp print images that look professional.
The business cards you wish to print will be just the beginning of the documents that you will produce that must project a serious business image. High-quality printers have become affordable and are within reach of most start-up companies.
Talk with a local print shop to see if they have a recommendation for an office printer that would provide great print quality.
Visit some businesses and collect some business cards. Stop to consider your immediate impression of each business and the owner based solely on the business card you acquired. Make notes on the back of each card and think through the reasons you assume certain truths about the business without any other input.
Note what you would do differently on the card, and incorporate each improvement in the card you design and print. Remember that someone else’s first impression of your business card could cost you business if you rush through the design and production of the only image of yourself you will leave with each prospective customer.
Alright BGB’ers… you know the drill. Thoughts, questions, all welcomed in the comment section below. And if you found this post useful, please be sure to share it with your friends.