Business cards are definitely one of the most important and cost effective tool for marketing and networking. It is also one of the first impressions that any one would get about you and your business. So before you order 500, 1000 or 10000 of them, make sure you avoid any and all of these mistakes and faux pas. It will not only save you a lot of money but also make sure that you get something that you can be proud of.
First lets’ handle the mistakes that should be avoided at all costs.
Typos and spelling mistakes
This is a no-brainer. Everybody knows it, nobody wants it but you get it every once in a while because you were in a hurry when you proof read it. This is probably one of the worst you could have. If your name is mis-spelled you might as well feed this set of cards to the cows.
Do not correct it with a pen. It could just be one small misspelt character or a digit, but it is still an error. And correction with a pen just looks cheap.
If your card is single sided, then don’t worry about it. This is only true of the duplex cards. It can be very embarrassing when some one turns over the card to find the lettering upside down. It is probably worthwhile to get a sample or proof copy of the card before printing it.
The images that are on the card should be of the high resolution. Do not use low quality images of your logo.
Equally bad is the use of out of focus images. The images you use should be crisp and clear.
You could have used a high quality in-focus image but it could still be blurry if the printing is of bad quality. Get you business cards done by a reliable printer or company who is known for good work.
How to avoid all of this? Simple, spend some time proof reading it and then spend some more time proof reading it. Take a break, come back and look at it again. Get at least three of your co-workers, friends or spouses(!!) to proof read it for you.
Is this a set of expensive cards, that if you were to re-order for some reason would leave you penniless? then spend some extra bucks on a sample before you print in large quantities. Proof read the sample, check the image and print quality and other mistakes (or even consider enhancements) and show it to others who would give you a honest opinion.
There are mistakes and then there are faux pas. These are not really mistakes, but some things that you might as well avoid, unless you have a very good reason not to.
Avoid unusual card sizes (and shapes)
Unusual card sizes and shapes like pigs, donkeys and babies might look very cute, but it is really cumbersome for others to manage. It does not fit into usual card holders and card scanners and does not even stack up nicely with other business cards.
If you really like to have a shape, create it out of a standard size card so that it plays well with other business cards.
Also, if you are considering alternate materials like metal, make sure that there are no pointy edges. And will it get through airport security scanners ??
Avoid content duplication
Do not include the same information twice or thrice. You might have the same telephone number for your office, cell, fax and home. You might as well put them together in one line as Home/Office/Cell/Fax, rather than putting it the same number thrice (or four times in this case) in three different lines. Consider just providing the number with out any description, just one all purpose number.
Along the same lines goes the email address. Just provide one unless you can clearly specify which one I should use and when.
Avoid excessive colors
Do not use more than three colors on your business card. If you strongly feel the need to do it, try to use slight variations and shades of one of the colors.
Depending on the industry, it might be acceptable to have extremely colorful and fun cards, but it is always safer to stay with in the three color rule.
Avoid excessive font variations
Do not put every line in a different font and font size. You might feel like every piece of information on the card is important and it should all stand out, but don’t do it.
Group the information in your card into two or three categories, like contact info, company info etc. Pick out a font and size for each of these categories and put all the information in one category in the same font and size.
If you definitively do need more than three variation, play around with different font sizes rather than different fonts itself.
AVOID CONTENT IN ALL CAPS
Do not put any information or words in all caps, no matter how important the information.
Using only small letters through out the card (yes, even for the name) actually can give it an unique look, but all caps is a definite no-no.
If there is no white space anywhere on the card where somebody could write some information down in your business card, then it is cluttered.
You would suddenly realize that there are way too much information than that can fit in a 3.5″x2″ card especially if you have to use a reasonable font size. The solution is not to cram all of the information into the card, but to weed out some of the less important ones or merge some information.
Use only one telephone number and email address. Provide a website URL where you can put all the secondary information for quick reference rather than putting all of it on the card.
Provide a Quick Response (QR) code on the card, which can fit a whole lot of information in a small space.
Also, the more information you put on the card, the more probability that it might be outdated sooner than later.
Avoid minimal information
Well, now this is confusing especially if you read the previous suggestion. Everybody loves a minimalist card, but you still have to provide some basic information.
If it is a personal card, it should have atleast the Name, a telephone number, an email address and maybe a website or your social media profile. It should also state in some fashion as to what you do.
If it is a business card, then it should state the Name, Address, a telephone number and a website URL. Again specify what you do or what services you provide.
Avoid self printing
Nothing says cheap than smeared ink, smudged colors and crooked edges. Unless you have a state-of-art printing press in your garage and have some experience in printing industry, do not attempt to do it yourself. Printing it out on your home printer means it just looks and feel just that..well…home-made. It is not professional at all…
Avoid low contrast
The text on your business card should be clear and legible so that humans, scanners and cameras can read it equally well. Wherever there is text make sure that you have a high contrast between the text and the background. If possible, avoid texts on top of images, that just makes for variable contrast in places depending your image.
Who does not want to save a few bucks? Many printing places will give you a small discount if you let them put their logo/text on the back of the card. Do not do it. It screams cheap if not anything.
Your business card is your advertisement for your business and you, so do not let another business in on that space…..
Remember that you want your business card to stand out among your competition, and not stick out..