more than a piece of cardboard: the must know’s in creating your first business card

I have to say folks, I am super excited about my new business cards! They came out just the way I was envisioning… simple, clean, to the point.

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You love?!

I have seen a lot of business cards over the past three years, and because I am still stuck in the stone ages I have piles of them in my desk.

 I’m by no means a marketing expert, but, I do feel like I have a good sense of when a card looks good or not.

I think that most of us do, even if we don’t realize it. Have you ever looked at a card and thought “wow I like that!” Or, are there certain business cards that are easier to remember?

I have been known to ask my husband to help me look through the piles of cards and saying something like “it’s the blue card! With his face on it! With a shiny logo!”

I’ve never had any marketing training, but, I know when something looks good to me or catches my eye.

THIS card in particular is a favorite!

I first saw this card before I actually met Alex… but I immediately thought “this guy is good at what he does and I need to know him!” That is the kind of impression that a good card can make. Alex is now at Fabric Eleven, and if you think this card is sharp, you should see his new one!

Noticing details about things that catch your eye can make a difference when you are starting a business and developing your branding. When a logo or brand catches your eye, take one step past “wow, nice!” and ask yourself “ok, WHY do I think this looks nice?”

In my case, I always like a fresh, clean looks. Light colors. Clean text. So when I was developing my logo and first business cards, I followed the same “rules.”

I am pretty happy with the results!

It also  got me thinking… why are there so many BAD business cards out there?!

I think that one reason is because when you are first starting, it’s easy to say “oh, I am brand new, I don’t have a budget for marketing or a logo, I don’t know how to deign something…” and just put it on the back burner. When you first start, getting a business card is exciting, but, if you don’t have a brand and logo figured out BEFORE you will end up just picking a design you like, but doesn’t make sense for you business. Just because you don’t have a budget to have someone design your cards for you doesn’t mean you have to have a ” ho hum” card.

So get things rolling, here are three secrets to consider when you go to order your first business cards:

  • Stay away from designs that are the “top choices” or “most popular” designs. 

    I love VistaPrint and think it is a great resource, but please please pleas don’t chose a pre-made design from the first page. Most likely there are a few other hundred business owners in your area with the exact same design. How you will set yourself apart if you card looks the same as someone else? Find a design you like, and then ask yourself, “WHY do I like it?” Is it the colors? The style?  Here is a design that I think really stands out, but, is not super elaborate:

    It is not how fancy a design is, but whether it is easy to take notice of and remember. If you see a card that does that for you, that”recipe” of that pre-made design and use it as the framework for YOUR own card. DON’T COPY… just use the idea. For example, AM Heating and Cooling has their logo on one side of their card, and that’s IT. There aren’t any other distractions, which means that people are more likely to recognize it.

 

  • Your business card design needs to make sense for your business.

    Don’t go with a theme or style just because you like it. Yes, you may love the floral pattern, and it may be a great design, but if you are a tutor… that doesn’t make sense. Go for something with pencils or books! If you are a landscaper, have a tree or yard tools or a lawnmower. Even if you don’t have a logo, you can still have a BRAND. Chose a color theme and stick with it.

Just looking at Green Toes‘ business cards makes me feel more relaxed, and that it what they want! They have a color theme that they stick with for all of their marketing, and now anytime I see THIS green, I think of Green Toes! One you have a color or image that represents your business and what you offer your clients. Then, add the finishing touch…

 

  • YOUR face! People want to see YOU!

    They know are remember faces far better than they will remember a name. Eddie here is a PRO at creating a brand around who he is… he always wears a bow tie, and that is how people recognize him!

    His logo actually incorporates a bow tie, too, but I think that people already connected that with him before the logo came along. It was only natural to stick with the bow tie theme.

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    See the bow tie?! Love it.

    Even if you don’t think you look that great (although Eddie always looks fabulous), a picture can go a long way in helping to establish a working relationship with your customers and business peers. If you are part of a large company, having your face on your card will help set you apart from all the other folks in the business. You don’t want to blend in… you want to stand out. Yes, yes, I know I broke my own rule with my new cards… but I felt like a picture of my face AND my flowers was just too busy. In this case, I felt like the flowers won out. I might change my mind later, but, I am happy with the balance. In general though, you can’t go wrong with putting your face on your card. YOU are your brand!

 

Last but not least… when you are brand new at something, ANYTHING, it is great to have a buddy. A mentor. A friend. Someone that is a step ahead of you, that has been there and done that. Someone that can come alongside you and say “hey, your logo sucks.” Or, “you need a different color in your brand.” This person needs to be your friend, so they can say the tough things, but, even more importantly they need to be SUCCESSFUL. If they aren’t successful in their own business, how are they going to help you in yours? If THEY don’t have a great business card, how can they tell you if yours looks good or not? Here is Erin’s card… pretty sharp, don’t you think?

Simple, but, everything about it says INTEGRITY INSURANCE SERVICES. Her black and white theme and letter “i” is recognized all over town, because she created a theme, and stuck with it… and when you stick with a theme, it turns into a BRAND.  That is the goal, folks! One day, your brand might be so effective, you will have people dressing up like you for Halloween… but that will have to be another post.

 

Hope that these “secrets”are helpful, because they really shouldn’t be secrets! Being new to business doesn’t mean you have to have a business card that looks like it. Let’s spread the word!

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