Business card mistakes

Business cards are almost quaint. After all, I can get your info into my computer a lot quicker if you’ll just email it to me.

Precisely because they are an anachronism, they serve a vitally important function. In an era where no one dresses up anymore, they give you a chance to position yourself, to represent who you are and what you do in a three cent piece of paper. And yet… almost all business cards are terrible. They are the leisure suits of the marketing the world, the place where bad design not just lives, but thrives. (Wanna guess which one of these ten cards I don’t hate?)

I think the point of your card should not be to demonstrate that you are creative. The point should be to demonstrate that you have good taste.

Here’s my checklist of common mistakes (and a few suggestions). It’s $30 well spent, I think.

  • Don’t print your own cards. Just because Avery and others make those little perforated sheets of paper doesn’t mean you should use them.
  • Don’t use big type for the address and contact info. The #1 way we can tell if a business card is cheesy is with a glance at the type size. Really.
  • Don’t buy those color business cards with your face on them. You’re not an ordinary real estate agent, so there’s no sense in acting like one.
  • Don’t go with metal business cards. It might work for Steve Wozniak, but everyone else wants to bring your cards on an airplane.
  • You might think it’s a great idea to do a full color card with a big (lousy) picture on it. It’s not.
  • I like rounded edges. But only if you leave plenty of margin. (as below)
  • Margins matter. Anytime your type gets anywhere near the margin, you’ve blown it.

My favorite sources are Moo (for non-traditional but totally remarkable cards) and for classy cards with rounded edges. (The only card of the eight above that I like is the bottom left).