You’re a recent graduate with an eye for good design and big plans for the mark your brand is going to leave on the world. However, you know that you’ve been living in a digital age since before you graduated. You could theoretically go all day without using a piece of paper for anything. So why are business cards so important, and why does it matter how nice they are?
As a Designer, Go Premium
Designers work to dazzle the senses and craft a memorable impression of the brand they’re working for. Your own personal brand deserves nothing less. High-quality materials insinuate high-quality work, so a custom business card enables you to put your best foot forward from the start when meeting prospective clients.
What separates high-end business cards from regular cards? First, the paper used for them is often thicker, smoother, and more durable, enabling fancy embellishments like foil-stamping or die cuts to be added. Fancy cards also have the option of multiple layers. This gives the premium card a pleasing weight and provides the option of coloring the middle layer to complement the design on the card face.
Generally, the nicer the card is, the more precise the colors will be as well. An experienced printer can navigate RGB, CMYK, and Pantone color palettes with ease, ensuring that the print version of your design comes out just right. (Always ask for a proof before you commit to a full print run, so you can catch any last-minute mistakes yourself.)
Why They Are a Good Marketing Tool
You studied design, not marketing, but you’ve surely noticed the power of a well-established brand. As a designer just starting out in your career, it’s essential that you start staking out your brand territory immediately. Make your name synonymous with your design style, and promote this connection everywhere. A business card is one of the best ways to begin doing this.
Compared to billboards, commercials, banner ads, and other forms of marketing, business cards are one of the most affordable ways to promote yourself. Doing your own design makes them even more budget-friendly. A couple hundred dollars can get you a respectable stack of cards with your name, primary contact information, and one or two examples of your design style. Enlist some friends, and beta-test your different designs on them until you hit on one that’s memorable and completely you. New contacts will keep that card longer than you might expect.
They won’t just keep your card because you made it look awesome. Business cards are a powerful reminder of face-to-face connections. Every interaction you have with a potential client becomes as much a part of your personal brand as your design work is. For this reason, never show up to networking opportunities without having prepared for the occasion; remember to research the attendees and bring your business cards! Most of all, come with the attitude “Whom can I help?” instead of “What can you do for me?” A pleasant, helpful manner is what really turns your business card from a neat accessory into a personal-marketing powerhouse.
How to Design Your Cards to be Most Effective
While it only hurts you in the long run to be a mindless trend-follower, demonstrate with subtle touches that you are aware of the way the current market is moving. Right now the current design sensibility is minimalism, so don’t make your card too busy. One of your best art pieces will serve well as a background or accent image for your name, email, phone (if you answer it), and one or two primary social media accounts. Anything else you add is up to you, as long as it feels natural rather than crammed-in.
LinkedIn’s Karen Wessels has a few more tips for optimizing your card, as well as reminders of why you have one to begin with. What about you? Have you learned anything from having (or not having) a business card of your own? Share your thoughts with us!
Katherine Halek is the Content Strategist at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about web design, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Connect with her on Google+.