Friday, 6 January 2012

The Ultimate Guide to Business Cards: Print and Design

The Ultimate Guide to Business Cards: Print and Design
Business owners can find themselves easily overwhelmed when it comes to working with a graphic designer on creating branded business cards. Often enough business owners underestimate the quantity and importance of design decisions (selecting typeface, font, card shape, size and material) that must be made in addition to organizing basic contact information.
Below are some common areas that sometimes get lost in translation between designer to business owner. If you’re starting a business card or identity project we recommend getting a head start and figuring out the following elements for your project.
Typeface vs. Font
Typeface and font is not the same thing. This is a common pet peeve with graphic designers who often wince as they listen to their clients use the two terms interexchangably (and incorrectly). A typeface is a style family of fonts whereas a font is a particular member of that style family in a point size. For example, Sans Serif would be one typeface. Helvetica is a font in the Sans-Serif style family. Technically each size of that font (ex- Helvetica pt. 8, Helvetica pt.12) is classified as a separate font.
Typeface and fonts are a world that it’s easy to get lost in. There are so many fun options to consider. But we recommend not getting too fancy or ambitious with your final font choices. Try to use no more than 2 fonts per card design. Adding too many design elements will be confusing and make your card appear messy or cluttered.
Color Mode for Print: CMYK vs. RGB
This section is more for your understanding than something to talk about with your designer. Most legitimate graphic designers are going to know that they need to work on print design projects in CMYK mode or do color matching before the final design files are sent to the printer. But if you’re using a spec website (where designers submit their design and the winning design receives the bid) then this is something to be aware of. As sometimes the designers on those sites have not finished their schooling.
There are two different color modes to choose from: CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black), which is the color mode for print, and RGB (red-green-blue), which is the color mode for Web use. CMYK refers to the mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants to create a full range of colors, each caused by subtracting (or absorbing) some wavelengths of light and reflecting the others. In other words, CMYK is a subtractive color mode whereas RGB is an additive color model. In the additive color model: red, green, and blue are added together by light for a broader range of colors.The most important thing to note here is that there is a smaller range of colors available in CMYK mode versus RGB mode. If a design were created in RGB mode then the design files would be automatically converted into CMYK format when the files were prepped for printing. Since there’s a wider amount of colors in RGB mode there would then be the chance that one of the colors used in the design didn’t have an exact color match in the CMYK range of colors. This is sometimes the reason why business owners will see discrepancy between the colors in their design and the business cards that they receive.
Business Card Size and Shape: Standard vs. Custom
The next design element to be decided on is the size and shape of your business card. You can choose between rectangles, circles, and even die-cut shapes, if you want to get creative. However, the standard rectangular or vertical shapes and sizes are more convenient and affordable. Also keep in mind that if you have a unique shape it might be harder for people to hold on to your card as it won’t fit in most business card holders (designed for rectangular cards) that professionals carry with them. Refer to the graphic above for more specific information on business card dimensions around the world.
Business Card Bleed, Trim, and Safe Zone
You will also want to keep the business card printing map in mind when designing your card. There are three different sections included in our business card map, and if you aren’t careful, some of your important info may be cut off. The “bleed” refers to the outer perimeter of the card. This area is trimmed away and will not be a part of the finished product. Make sure if you are printing a background image or color on your card, that it extends to the bleed area so that your design will go to the edge of the card. The “trim” refers to where the card will be cut and the “safe zone” is the majority of the surface area on your business card. If all else fails just make sure that no important elements (like contact information) are placed outside of the safe zone to avoid them being trimmed off.
Business Card Printing Material
Lastly, you must decide the material you want your card to be printed on and there are many more choices to consider outside just the standard matte or glossy choices. If you wanted to go in a more non-traditional route, you could select to have your cards made out of wood, metal, or plastic. This works particularly well if you have a home improvement or construction business.
If you envision your card being something that a potential client will see or use every day, you can have your card made as a magnet, a USB stick, or a matchbox. We’ve seen realtors adopt magnet business cards in the last few years with great success. If you want something completely off the wall and “outside the box”, you can even have your card made out of meat or cookies. No, we’re not joking; you can have a cookie business card if you so desire!Though there may be many more aspects to printing a business card than you had originally imagined, it is not a complicated process if you are aware of all considerations that you are going to have to make ahead of time. We hope our Ultimate Guide To Business Cards: Print & Design is helpful in assisting you in the process of creating your next business card.

Best Tips for How to Print and Design Business Cards

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