A business card can be so much more than just a bit of paper with your contact information printed on it. If designed creatively, it can be an amazing conversation starter. This is why it’s important to consider all the different business card finishes and coatings that are available.
In this article, I’ll explain about all the different finishes and coatings. As you’ll see in the examples below, you can combine multiple finishes to create a stunning business card that’s sure to turn heads.
Pro Tip: Once you’re ready to start creating your business cards, head over to Gimmio’s Business Card Maker and get started with one of the many free templates.
A matte coating is one of the most common finishes for business cards. It creates a smooth and clean coating on your business card that looks great even after many years. This is a great option when combined with a spot UV embossed logo as it makes the logo pop out and look shiny compared to the rest of the card.
This coating can be used in combination with many different finishes which allows you to have a focal point on your business card.
The downside to using a matte coating is that ink cannot stick to it, so if you’re one of those people who writes additional information or appointment times on your business card, this coating won’t work for you.
Because of the protective finish, they’re far less likely to wear out (or fade) compared to an uncoated business card. However, fingerprints can often be seen on the matte cards after handling them, and that can put some people off.
Here are a few examples of matte coated business cards. One example even has spot varnish and a QR code on it for bonus points!
Spot UV / Varnish
A spot UV (or varnish) finish makes a section of your business card pop out slightly so it’s raised from the rest of the card. This allows you to choose a focal point of the business card that you want your recipients to notice more than the rest, such as a logo.
When using spot UV, the card has more of a textured look that allows people to “feel” your logo. This adds another dimension to your business card which often becomes a conversation starter when exchanging cards.
Spot UV is applied after the business card is printed and dries very quickly. The benefit of using spot UV over embossing is that it applies a shine to the raised element. It also doesn’t have the recessed effect on the other side of the card like embossing does. This means you can still use both sides of your business card.
Here are some examples of business cards using spot UV / varnish.
Embossed / Debossed / Letterpressed
Having a business card with an embossed (raised) logo is a nice way to pop your logo out from your business card and gives the card a much nicer textured feel. However, unlike spot UV, the embossing won’t add a shiny element to the raised feature. Instead, the look of it will be the same, except it will be raised. The same goes with debossed (recessed) features.
Embossing is done by pushing on a section of the business card to raise the desired object on the other side. The opposite can be done as well if you wish to deboss a part of your business card.
Something to keep in mind when you emboss a section of your business card is that it will have a debossing effect on the other side of the card. This can sometimes be a problem if you’re planning to use both sides of your business card, instead of just one side.
If you only want to emboss one side of your business card, it’s better to use the letter pressing method. Letter pressing only applies light pressure onto the card, so it doesn’t affect the other side. However. it still achieves a slight debossing effect on the card.
Below are perfect examples of letterpressed finishes on business cards.
Foil stamping is another popular finish that adds a touch of elegance to your business card. It’s not cheap, but it’s a good way to make certain elements of your business card stand out, such as your logo.
The foil used is very similar to aluminum foil that’s used for cooking. It’s a thin layer of foil that is heat pressed onto the business card to make it stick. The end result makes the pressed object look slightly recessed with the foil firmly pressed in there. It makes the business card look really classy.
The downside is that you only have a few select colors to choose from. These colors are black, gold, silver, copper, and a few others. If your business doesn’t use those colors in the branding, this finish might not work for you.
Check out the example below showing gold foil stamping on a business card. It’s a unique and elegant looking finish.
Die cut business cards are a surefire way of getting noticed. Most printing companies have pre-made dies ready to cut your business cards into a specific shape. You can also cut shapes into your business card, giving it a nice edgy look. If cutting your whole business card into a shape, you should consider how much space you’ll have left over for your contact information. Some die cut templates remove quite a lot of paper, leaving you with much less space.
Die cutting is done after your business cards have been printed. A die cutter uses really sharp metal dies (similar shape to cookie cutters) which slice the desired shape into the business card in a clean way that looks professional. Die cutting your business cards should have a purpose. Don’t just randomly cut shapes out of your business card, it should have some meaning. For example, if you’re a dentist, you might like a business card cut into a shape of a tooth. That would give your business card a unique touch.
Printing companies often have many pre-made die shapes ready to use. However, if the shape you want is not available, you may need to pay extra to get the die made. Saying that, most of the common shapes are available, such as coffee mugs, cars, trucks, etc.
Take a look at the die cut examples below for some inspiration!
Edge colors (a.k.a border colors) are one of the least known business card finishes. However, they are a great way to embed your brand’s accented colors. For example, if your branding has a secondary color, it might be nice to have that color on the edge of the card.
Although this is a subtle touch to your business card, it’s one that will get noticed! It’s not every day that you see a business card with a custom edge color.
Check out the example below showing a set of business cards with black colored borders.
Folded business cards are…well…folded! Sometimes, people prefer to use folded business cards if they have a lot of information to include. These types of business cards are also good to use as appointment cards to write your customers’ appointments easily. When using folded appointment cards, don’t use any coating on them. If you do, your pen ink won’t stick on the business card paper.
With folded business cards, it’s still important to still use a standard business card size so it fits in most wallet card slots. A really great use case for a folded business card is if you have an IT business that fixes laptops. Your folded card can look like a laptop, so when you open the card, it looks like you’re opening a laptop.
Check out the examples of folded business cards below.
You don’t need to use any of these business card finishes. However, if your bank account allows for it, you should. All these finishes make your business cards a bit more unique.
When you’re ready to start creating your business cards, head over to Gimmio’s Business Card Maker to create the exact design you want. If you don’t have a design in mind, Gimmio has heaps of free templates to get you started.
In a world full of ordinary, you want your business cards to be extraordinary. Using business card finishes creatively can help you achieve that.