Over the years, we’ve worked hard to compile a list of the most common business card mistakes that people make when designing their first business cards.
The 3 most common mistakes that people make when creating business cards are:
- Ordering thin paper stock because its cheaper, but ends up looking floppy and feels too soft.
- Using low resolution images making them look grainy and pixelated when printed.
- Applying small font sizes to text making it hard to read when the final design is printed.
Whatever you do, don’t press the print button on your business cards until you’ve read through the full list of common mistakes below.
1. Don’t Use Thin Paper
Want to save $5 on your business cards? Don’t do it by cheaping out on paper stock. This is one of the most common business card mistakes that people make (which is why its first on the list).
There’s nothing worse than being handed a business card that just flops around in your hand because its as thick as a piece of paper. It sends a “I am cheap” message to the recipient and perhaps shows that you dont care about your brand image.
My recommendation is that you go with at least 350GSM paper stock to avoid floppiness.
2. Use HIGH Resolution Images
When designing business cards, its crucial to use high resolution images…and I really mean that. If you use low resolution images, you’ll end up with a business card that looks pixelated and has grainy images throughout it – and thats not a good look.
Depending on screen size, computers usually display images around 72DPI (Dots Per Inch), and this is way too low for printed media. If you were to print an image which is 72DPI on paper, it would be very grainy looking.
With business cards, you will want to use images which are at least 300DPI for photos, or 600DPI for logos and artwork. This will ensure your images look nice and crisp every time.
If you’re designing your business card using Adobe Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator, you can designate the size of the card in inches and specify the Pixels/Inch (DPI) that you would like to use, which makes it really easy.
3. Don’t Make The Text Too Small
People often design their first business card on their computer without zooming out to check text font sizes. This is dangerous because more often than not, they end up with a card where the text is so small, its unreadable. And that’s when you end up putting your brand new business cards straight in the bin.
Remember, a standard business card is only 3.5 x 2 inches (or 88.9 x 50.8 millimeters) in size. The text needs to be fairly large to be readable by most people, especially those with eyesight difficulties.
Every time you make a change to your design, remember to zoom out to see what it would look like once printed.
4. Ensure There Is High Contrast Between Colors
Colors on computer screens look quite different to printed color. Monitors mix intensities of red, green and blue to create color, but print media uses four or more different colored inks to create the right color. Also, your computer screen always shows colors at the optimum lighting levels.
We’ve found if you use a slight texture or shade in the background of a business card, it is likely to be less distinguishable on the card. To fix this issue, firstly make sure to check color profiles with your printing company and when in doubt, increase the contrast a little for any shaded areas.
5. Use Call-To-Actions (Seriously!)
You use call to actions (CTA) in your email signature, your website and most other marketing material, so why not in your business cards?
There are plenty of creative ways to use call to actions in business cards, such as:
“You, the bearer of this wonderful piece of paper has just received a 20% discount on all furniture.”
or if you wanted to be even more creative, place this at the bottom of your business card in really small font:
“If you can read this, well done. This gives you a 15% discount on all store items.”
Dont be afraid to experiment and add CTA’s to your card to see which ones convert the best.
6. Pay Attention to the Bleed, the Cut Line, and the Safety Line
The Bleed, Cut Line and Safety Line are all important elements to take into account when creating your business card, or you might be displeased at the finished product.
Before you unleash your creativity, ensure you’re familiar with what each of the elements are and how they should be used. For example, if you place content outside of the Safety Line, you may find that your content isnt exactly even on all sides when the card is cut. This is because the safety line allows for slight variations when the card is being cut.
If you havent taken anything away from this list of business card mistakes, at least try to remember the difference between these 3 elements.
7. Watch out for Color Profiling from Photoshop to PDF
This is one of those business card mistakes that is often overlooked, which ends in tragedy.
When creating your business card in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator or similar, ensure you save it correctly for printing. If you dont save it correctly, some colors may slightly change, and no one wants that!
In Photoshop, there are a few general guidelines to follow when creating business cards:
- Ensure you create the new document with CMYK color mode
- When you’re saving the document as PDF, set the “Adobe PDF Preset” at the top as “Press Quality”
- Set the Color Conversion to “No Conversion”.
This will ensure there is no color loss between Photoshop and the final PDF which is ready for printing.
8. Use CMYK Color Mode (not RGB)
RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is the color mode that all computers and websites use. Basically, you can get any color you want with a varying combination of all 3 of these colors.
CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) works in the same way and is used for print media, such as business cards and basically anything that is printed.
Instead of creating your business card design in RGB and then converting it to CMYK (which can cause colors to look slightly different), you’re best off creating your card using the CMYK color mode in Photoshop. That way, there wont be any color differences between the draft design and the printed version.
9. Spelling and Grammatical Errors
Not even sure if this needs to be mentioned in this list of business card mistakes, but make sure you proof read over your business card at least once before submitting the final draft for printing.
Believe me, its quite embarrassing getting the printed card with a spelling mistake. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
If you’re sending the information to your designer, it’s also especially important because it takes a deceptively long time to correct typos for the designer.
10. Use Transparent Backgrounds in Images
When providing images to your designer, ensure the backgrounds are transparent.
For example, if you send them an image of your logo and you have a white background on the image, and they want to place it on a darker looking business card, it wont work as they wont be able to get rid of the white background of your logo very easily.
It’s always best to provide images with transparent backgrounds where possible, as it’s much easier to work with them when creating business cards.
11. Not All Business Card Printing Techniques Are Made Equal
Did you know that business cards which are glossy can have corners that peel off, especially if they have curved edges?
If you’re planning to purchase glossy business cards (the type that look like they have contact over them), just be wary of the contact peeling off around the edges.
We’ve seen plenty of cases where this has happened on low quality business cards and it doesnt look great. So, if you’re planning to get glossy business cards, ensure you get them from a reputable company.
The same goes with any other non-standard style of business cards. Ensure you’re aware of the pro’s and con’s, and maybe get a sample pack before you buy them for everyone in your company!
12. Less Is More
Remember, a business card is very small in size. This means cramming a lot of information into it wont do you any favors (other than people squinting to try and read it all).
In fact, most of the information on your business card is easily found on your website.
“So, what’s the point of a business card?” I hear you say.
Many branding professionals advise the only point of a business card these days is to make an impression. And it makes sense. If you have a funky and unique looking business card, the recipient will remember you.
Some common information to include:
- Full Name
- Company Name
- Office and/or Mobile Phone Numbers
- Email Address
If you already have a professional email signature, maybe take a look at the information that’s in there since business cards and email signatures are very similar when it comes to the information to include.
13. Don’t Print It Yourself
I’ve personally seen business cards printed on home printers, and they look just like you would expect…CHEAP.
You’ve gone through the effort of designing your professional business card, so why cheap out now?
The cost to print 100 cards is so ridiculously cheap these days that it’s a no brainer.
You think you will be able to cut them straight? No… No, you wont!