January 17, 2018

Business Card Design Mistakes

Business cards: they’re one of the first pieces of business collateral we collect. Whether you’re a salesperson, entrepreneur, employee, or a magician for kids birthday parties, you’re likely to have one. It’s your businesses’ first and lasting handshake. From the moment you hand it off, to the moment the recipient goes to give you a call, it’s got to do the important work of making you memorable and easy to reach: and all in a 2.5 x 3″ rectangle (or another cool shape, but more on that later).

The temptation is to create your own- and why not? Everyone has a computer, and likely access to a printer. When you have a sudden networking event to attend, why not design your own card super quick and print off 50? Or better yet, why not just use a template from an online print store and go from there?

Truth be told, these ARE options, and VIABLE ones at that! A designer is only necessary if you’re looking for a premium product that matches the rest of your branding perfectly. I’m here to tell you to go for it and create your own business cards if you’ve got the creative energy and the time to complete them.


Designing your business card : Avoid these 6 amateur moves

It might be a tiny space, but it can be designed poorly, and in such a way that YOU and YOUR BUSINESS are not taken seriously. For real, though. Let’s take a look at the below example. Who would you hire?

It’s not a mistake you chose the one on the right, and there are design reasons for why that is. But if you know nothing about ‘design’, how can you be sure your business card helps you to be taken seriously? To help you on your creative journey, here are some common design mistakes, and tips for you to avoid them.


1. MISTAKE |  Trying to use your business card as a brochure.

A business card is NOT a brochure. It’s a calling card. It just needs to do the work of achieving some brand recognition/awareness, and supply potential clients with your relevant contact info. In the above example, the card on the left tries to tell you all about the business. Rather than try to explain your business on a tiny rectangle, point the viewer to somewhere where you can tell them all about it; a phone number, or website for example. Less is more. I can hear you from here, “But what if they don’t remember what I can offer?”. Don’t worry- your awesome card, and the interaction you had with the potential client will be what encourages them to look you up again.

2. MISTAKE |  Using exciting, fancy typefaces (fonts), or warping text

This really will trigger the “amateur hour” response in a potential client. Simply avoid fancy typefaces. As Ian Malcolm once said,  “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. I know, I know. They’re just so cool looking! Believe me, I’ve got a host of fonts I can’t wait to find the right project for because they’re so cool looking. But that’s just it: it has to be the right project in the right application, and that’s what designers are trained to be great at. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, legibility is key; a stretched, crazy, curly, cursive, or blocky font is not your friend here.

3. MISTAKE |  Using multiple typefaces.

Stick to one typeface. Even if it’s not a “cool” one, legibility will be better guaranteed with this trick. You can’t go wrong if there’s only one typeface! It’s foolproof! It’s like a great wise man once told me, “I like a wine that pairs well with itself.”. The card on the right in the example uses only the typeface, Gotham, in bold and in regular to help establish a hierarchy of important information. Done and done!

4. MISTAKE |  Making it “pop”!

Again, less is more, and legibility is king. Crazy colors, or GIGANTIC text does not help your card stand out more. I’m going to reiterate that because it’s important. Loud colors and giant text don’t help your card stand out. In the world of amateur moves, this one might be at the top of the list. Seriously. I can’t overemphasize this enough.

5. MISTAKE |  Printing on the home computer on all-purpose paper or cardstock.

I’m not saying you should never print your cards at home, but be sure to invest in good paper. That touch factor will help disguise the DIY nature of your card, and lend you more credibility. It also will help your card stick out in a stack of others if it feels “nice”. Also be sure to use printer templates specifically for business cards, or use a paper cutter to cut out your cards. Nothing makes potential clients say, “Mmm… no thanks” quite like ragged, or irregular corners.

6. MISTAKE |  Doing more DIY than you have to.

You don’t have to do everything from scratch! Ask your local printer for design help, or use an online printing service’s templates. This will ensure that your card looks good, and that the printer will produce it well.


When you go online, always invest in a good printer.

Okay, scenario: you’ve just spent 45 valuable minutes choosing an online template, and making your card perfect. So, for the love of the time you just invested: Use a worthwhile printing service. Developing a relationship with a local printer is great idea, and often times they have designers that can help you with your business card design needs. However, if you’re looking for an online service, I highly recommend Moo.com. Before I wax poetic about the greatness of Moo, I’d like to announce that this is not a sponsored post: I’m simply a very satisfied customer. I’ve used Moo for everything from wedding invitations to business cards, and they have excellent customer service and their product is exceptional. You KNOW a Moo card when you feel it, even if you only opt to use their original cardstock. It feels like silky butter. Okay. On to the bullet points:

  • Moo cards come in 4 awesome sizes:
    • Standard. It’s your normally sized business card.
    • Moo. Slightly larger than a traditional business card.
    • Square. A really cool way to stand out.
    • Mini cards. Mini cards also allow you to have multiple designs in a group of cards. Another great way to stand out in a stack of cards.
  • Moo has hundreds (HUNDREDS!!!) of beautifully designed templates to choose from.
  • Their customer service is excellent.
  • Are you more design inclined? They have a great online design tool.
  • They offer fancy extras like gold foil, spot gloss, embossing, letterpress AND NFC, which allows a built in NFC chip to trigger digital actions when tapped to a compatible iPhone (iOS11 required) or Android device. Wow. The future.
  • Did I mention how they feel? And they come in matte, gloss, and what they call “luxe”: an uncoated, beautiful heavyweight paper.


Lastly, when you can hire a designer:

So let’s say you can’t spare an hour of your time to fiddle with business cards, and so you hire a designer. I recommend this option as well. As great as templates are, you’ll never quite match your branding the same way as if you let a designer make the cards for you. They’ll have great ideas on how to make the greatest impact with this tool. Here are my tips:

  • Provide the designer with everything they’ll need to make your card: name, website, phone number, tag line, company logo, your photo, etc. This will help them get everything done right away.
  • If you have them, and you should, send the designer your brand guidelines. This will help them design a great, on-brand business card.
  • Normally, business cards are part of an entire branding package. Since a business card is one small part, it’s my opinion that a simple business card really shouldn’t cost much more than that designer’s hourly rate (production and shipping excluded).


There you have it! Quick tips for taking your business card game to the next level. Remember, it’s all about setting yourself up as a professional, with a memorable and easy to read calling card. Go get ’em, Tiger.



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