The Art of the Business Card

OK I admit it. After being involved in the design and printing of hundreds of business cards, I probably spend way too much time thinking about that little 3.5″ x 2″ rectangle. As a professional I am quick to judge a business by the look and feel of the card. Expect a business card to:

  • Reinforce your name and the company name
  • Introduce the company branding (logo)
  • Provide contact information
  • Provide an easy to keep reminder
  • Serve as an introduction

Following are a few opinionated recommendations:

Logo Design

A nice business card starts with a good logo. Please, leave logo design to the professionals. An amateurish logo will immediately mark your business as small. The best logos combine strong visual appeal with simple lines.


I like a nice heavy card. Paper thickness is usually measured in thousandths and I prefer paper a minimum of 14 pts (thousandths) thickness. Thicker papers feel richer and more substantial.

The choices for paper textures are endless so I’ll just make a distinction between coated (glossy) and uncoated papers. Either can make an attractive card, but I lean in the direction of uncoated. I prefer the feel of it.

Unless you are going for an old fashioned look, I would avoid linens, laids, felts or other finishes that have been around forever. A really bright white smooth uncoated stock has a modern feel.


In recent years we have seen an explosion of full color cards with UV coating, and these can be very economical. However, they have gotten so common that they no longer stand out. In addition, many corporate logos and branding use Pantone colors which may not lend themselves to the full color process. Pantone colors require a specific ink mixture to match. For example, FedEx purple. Like logos, simple lines and one or two colors can be a subtle classy look for your business card.

If you really want to make an impact, consider foil stamping or blind embossing. Foil is very dramatic. Embossing is subtle but classy.


You might be tempted to deviate from the standard business card size but don’t do it. Many of us scan and/or file business cards for future reference or other purposes. Non-standard cards, even fold over cards, are a nuisance.


Card layouts should be balanced, not too crowded, with text at least 1/8″ from the outside edges. Avoid the temptation to over do the marketing messages. At most a tag line or short descriptive phrase.

You’ve got a great business card. Now what?
Read Carl Reid’s excellent article 10 Powerful Network Tips for Business