Business cards are a great takeaway when you meet a new business prospect. But if you make these common mistakes in card design, you’ll be sabotaging your success when you hand out your shiny new cards.
Putting a picture of yourself on the card: It’s tempting to put an image on your card in order to make yourself more memorable. But in reality there are really few industries where your looks are as important as what’s on the cards.
If you’re a model or actor, perhaps a realtor people may want to see your look, but in other industries it may coe across as cheesy, so be careful when using this approach.
Real estate on business cards comes at a premium, so use the space for listing your social profiles, phone numbers, or your business specialty.
Unusual sizes or formats: Sure, if you’re a light bulb salesman, it’s tempting to hand out cards in the shape of a light bulb. It sounds catchy and memorable. But the memory you’ll be giving to the people who take your cards will be drastically different.
If you’ve ever tried to shove an over sized or irregular shaped card into you wallet, you know that the odd shaped ones are the ones that either get thrown away, or folded and relegated to a pocket where they probably won’t be seen again for another year at least.
Cute fonts: A calligrapher can get away with putting samples of her curling fonts on her cards as an example of her work. If you’re a veterinarian, however, leave off the fancy scripts. They’re hard to read, and if you prospect has to squint and guess your name or email address, you’ve set yourself up for trouble. If he sends his order to the wrong e-mail, you’ve lost yourself a sale.
Unprofessional card style: This one is a little subjective: if you’re in a design or artistic field, you have a license to show your work or your creativity when you create a card. But if you’re an insurance broker, stay away from the goth images. Conservative fields require simple, uncluttered designs that give people the idea that you’re dependable and a steady bet for their ongoing business. Otherwise, they fear you’re a loose cannon.
A too vanilla style: Some cards are so boring they put people to sleep. Sure, a cream background with black writing was okay for American Psycho, but these days you have to put at least a little bit of personality into your cards. The key is to use some, and make it match the nature of the work that you do.
Logos that eat the card: If you’ve gone through the effort of designing your own logo, then by all means feature it on your letterhead and business cards. But don’t make the mistake of featuring it so prominently that it’s all that the prospect sees. You want to get across your skills, services, and contacts to inspire them to contact you for future work. Not to tell you how cool your logo is. If you’re in doubt about how to size and scale a logo, make sure to talk to the print shop staff for guidance.
Microscopic font sizes: Please don’t make your prospects worry if their eyesight is going. If you’re shrinking down the font size to squeeze in every online and social media account you have, you’re probably going too far. Three to four usually is enough.
Some people without any design training will tell you to go with the largest font size you can get on the card, but that is just as disastrous as using a too large logo. Font size is definitely something that you should consult with your print shop for advice.
Crossing out errors or updates on the card: Say you didn’t notice the typo until after you take the cards out for your first mixer. Most people panic and try to make changes on all of the card with a pen. But this just looks unprofessional and tacky to the people who are getting your cards.
If you’re using a pen for updates to phones numbers, address, or other information, it’s just time to break down and order a new set of cards. Don’t be the cheapskate that tries to sneak in the changes. It looks amateur and just plain tight fisted.
Bad business card design can ruin your business prospects by giving people an inferior take away item. But if you follow good design guidelines you can give people a good impression that lasts.