Business Card Styles to Avoid

Posted by: Michael Wittmeyer on Dec. 13th, 2010

As a follow up to our last design advice article, How to Design a Unique Business Card, this article describes the style elements you should avoid.

Often when people design their business cards, they are desperate to make them stand out. As a result, they make foolish decisions that lead to an irrelevant or hard-to-read business card design. Avoid the style elements below when designing your business card:

Non-Standard Shapes/Sizes

Cool cuts like rounded corners can enhance a business card design, but avoid using non-standard sizes and shapes (unless you are working with a related business concept). Although it may seem interesting and unique to make a 3” x 3” square-shaped business card, there is one big problem with this: it won’t fit anywhere.

For example, when you hand out your business card, your contact will try to place it into their wallet or into a business card binder. If you create a non-standard shape/size, your potential client may throw away your business card or bury it in the car seat or the bottom of a drawer.

Too Much Color

Too Much Color

Two- or three-color designs for your business cards are usually a great idea, as they will stand out from a one-color or black and white business card while maintaining a professional appearance. However, once you start to include several colors to the business card design, it starts to look busy and unprofessional. Use a colored logo and black text or a colored background with off-color text.

As you can see, the colors in the image shown are beautiful, but there are no white spaces available for important text items. Note: you can use color within an image or logo to get the special effects you want to achieve.

Too Much Information

Your business card should include all of the basic contact information, but if you go overboard and fill both the front and the back of the business card with text, it presents several problems. Your contact will miss the key information about your business, they will have no space to make notes, and the business card will not stand out from the rest. Too much information will make it impossible for your contact to make notes about who you are and why they need to know you.

Too Little Information

The opposite of the “too much information” problem is clearly “too little information.” The business card with nothing more than a name is vague and confusing. How will your clients remember you or get in touch with you in the future? Check out our article titled “What Information to Include on My Business Card” to review the items that absolutely must go on your card.

Breaking Company Policy

If you are an employee, check into the company policy about business cards. Some companies require you to use their business card template. They may not allow employees to hand out custom business cards, so make sure you understand their policy before paying someone to design a fancy (but unapproved) business card.

Excessively Large/Small Text

Too Big Text

A good rule for business card typeface is 10pt or 12pt for standard text elements such as name, address, and phone number. The text should be easy to read without overpowering the entire card. When you use anything smaller than 10pt text, your contacts will have a hard time reading your card, while if you use anything larger than 12pt text, you won’t be able to fit much text on the business card.

We recommend placing your name in 12pt or 14pt text, and then placing the rest of your information in two point sizes less. For example, if your name was in 12pt text, the rest of your information should be in 10pt text. This helps to emphasize your name and give your business card character. Note: Your logo will generally be a larger point size.

Printing at Home

Avoid printing your business cards at home. If you pay a designer to create a sharp, custom business card, you want to use a commercial printer to see those results in your final printed product. Printing from home generally involves extremely flimsy, perforated paper, often off-center, and a cheap look and feel.

Digital Printing

Keep in mind, when you use a commercial printer to print your business cards, you may still have problems if the printer uses digital printing instead of offset printing. Offset printing is more expensive for the printer but produces much sharper colors and higher quality images than digital printing. Make sure your commercial printer uses an offset printer if you want the highest quality (all of our printed products are printed on an offset printer).