As an avid conference attender, I love traveling to new places and meeting cool people. But I’m the first to admit that the conference scene can be tiring. And talk about sensory overload! There’s so much to do, see, and hear at every event.
When the people I meet turn into a blur of faces, I rely on their business cards to jog my memory. Some cards are really fun and creative, so I immediately recall the people who gave them to me. But when a card has a Plain Jane design, it doesn’t do a whole lot to help me remember.
I also realized I’m not the only one doing this—people are judging my business card, too. I knew I needed to learn about creating an effective business card if I wanted people to remember who I am. My research turned up some great ways to customize a business card. Here are my three favorites:
I almost always receive rectangular business cards, so cards with other shapes really stick out in my mind. And sure enough, that’s one of the first tips I found for creating a good business card—changing the shape.
One idea is to make a business card look like a miniature product. This is an adorable idea for many stores. A bakery could have a card shaped like a cupcake, or a clothing store could have a card shaped like a dress. One time, I saw a card for a Pilates studio that looked like a little person—it even had hinged joints so it could do Pilates poses.
But since I specialize in branding, a product-inspired card isn’t the best idea (because who knows what branding is shaped like?) I’d be better off with a geometric shape like a circle, which would like the O in Jen Oni.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I love purple. There’s something about a deep, rich purple that appeals to me (probably because of its long history as the color of royalty and creativity!) Since purple is an important part of my identity—and my brand—it’s the perfect color for my business card.
Colorful business cards are extremely effective. Think about it—if you collect a stack of cards at a conference and there’s one purple card among twenty white cards, you’re going to notice the purple card.
The trick is to pick the right color for your brand. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your favorite color (although if you run a personal brand like me, that may happen). Mostly, it means the color conveys the right “personality” for your brand. So if your brand is all about efficiency, orange is a good color—even if your personal favorite is blue. You’ll need to learn what colors mean so you can make this choice.
Each font comes with its own set of connotations, just like colors. My logo features two fonts. The bigger one is a cool script with a paintbrush effect. I think it really shows off my playful personality, but it’s also a powerhouse color—black—to make it clear I get stuff done. The smaller sans serif font is more professional, with the purple color adding a creative element.
The typefaces on your business card will send a message to the people you meet; while you can adjust this message with colors and sizing, the font itself is the foundation. Take these great fonts from designer Massimo Vignelli’s collection —each one has its own “flavor” that makes it 100% unique.
Great display fonts help people get a feel for your brand’s identity. They work well for writing your company name at large sizes. But for contact info, readability is king. Small serif or sans serif fonts work best—they’re low key and professional, yet have enough variations to create a clear brand identity.
Want to learn how to turn these elements into a good business card?
I asked a team of graphic artists who work with business card designs regularly, and they revealed the eight steps to creating a good business card:
1. Choose the right contact info
2. Include images
3. Select unique materials
4. Pick a creative shape
5. Select imprint method(s)
6. Choose color and typography
7. Lay out your design
8. Finalize the format