5 Common Business Card Design Mistakes

Your business card is a portable signature. It reveals your style, career choice, and is an expression of your hard work. Since it can be interpreted as such a personal reflection, it can be easy to overdo it with lengthy descriptions, fancy flourishes, and whimsical colors. The end result could be distracting for the recipient, instead of catching their eye. However, don’t forgo creativity for something stale (black text on white background…finished!) Aim for the tasteful middle ground – a card that is uncomplicated, self-explanatory, and catches the eye.

Stay away from:

1. Colors that run together. I’m talking dark grey background with a light grey font. Try and avoid similar colors and aim for contrast of text and background. An easy test is to hold the business card at arm’s length. Is it still easy to read?

2.  Vague information. Make sure your clients know who you are and how to get in touch. Keep it short and sweet if you plan on listing services. I’ve seen some doozies, my favorite being “Architecting business visions for 35 years.” I’m still not entirely sure what that means. This is the last thing you want your client to think. Be specific and to the point if you plan on listing services.

5 Business Card Design Mistakes

 3. Maps. Don’t print mini maps on your business cards. It makes the card look cluttered and the eye immediately goes to that spot, not your logo. Usually maps involve a lot of jumbled colors or grays  which brings us back to the don’t-use-colors-that-run-together rule. A simple text address is all that is necessary, if they need directions they’ll Google it.

4. Quotes. It isn’t the depth of the quotes that make the man, but the man himself. While someone might want to use a famous quote in order to put a justified ring to their statement of being, it will only confuse the person you hand your card to. “He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors” – Thomas Jefferson. Uhh…so does that mean you are Thomas Jefferson or something? Latin sayings are almost equally confusing, except I cannot read Latin. For example: Jane Smith,Conlige suspectos semper habitos, (505)555-5555 (this only works if they were a policewoman).

5. Terrible fonts. For me, this means anything that is difficult to read. For my business partner, this means *any* font that has been overdone (it’s a design thing). We both agree that Papyrus should be banned. The more outrageous the font, the more difficult it is to read as the text becomes smaller. Maybe we can read your name, but forget about deciphering the phone number and address. If you can’t read your name in one blink, go with a simpler font.

The Ultimate Test

So you have decided on a font, color scheme, logo placement, and text. Now imagine you were on your way to your grandmother’s house. You cannot tell her about your new business, but you can hand her your card. Would she understand what you do? Does the waiter icon convey that you are in the catering business, or is the sweet wolf logo confusing? Is everything clearly legible? Does she think you think you are Thomas Jefferson?

I hope this helps you in your effort to create an awesome business card. Whether you are making your first design or a redesign, your business card should reflect the level of professionalism your business emanates.

Lauren is a Managing Partner at Iron Summit Media Strategies, an Orlando web design company.