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Business Cards - Some Common Mistakes in Design and Usage

Updated on December 28, 2014
C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan is a retired Engineer. Backed by 3 decades of industrial experience, he writes on several aspects of business, management and HR.

You business card is like the “passport size photo” of your business. It should show the “face” of your business legibly and it should make the user of your business card to connect with you and your business instantly upon seeing it.

A well designed business card is sure to make the first impression good. One may be quite tempted to make business cards too novel and fancy, but unless extreme care is taken in professionally designing such a card, the card may even end up lack luster from the customer's point of view. In some aspects, even sticking to time tested ways of presentation may be better.

Let us have a look into some fundamentals.

Business Cards - good, bad, readable, poorly-readable...
Business Cards - good, bad, readable, poorly-readable...

Font and Character Size

One of the common card mistakes people make is in selection the character size and font type in fine print. While company name and logo may get printed bright, big and visible in the card, the address, phone number etc are normally printed in fine sizes, sometimes so fine that it becomes too difficult to read! Selecting a good font and and a minimum point size visible and readable to a middle aged person will be the right approach.

If you take Verdana Font at point size 8, it will be more visible and readable than the same 8 point size in Times New Roman. Likewise, Tahoma 8 point will be more readable than Arial Narrow 8 point.

If someone reads "8" as "3" or "5" as "6" or "7" as "1" while looking at a business card, then the font selection or the point size or both is a problem there that needs to be corrected.

It will be prudent to use next higher point size in such typical cases where readability is a problem. Usage of too fancy a font in preference to a well established font may be too tempting for a designer, but the ultimate decision should be based on readability over fancy.

Some novel business cards!

Card Size and Shape

People in creative business lines do make odd shaped and very fancy business cards that tend to make a good first impression. But their examples are exceptions rather than rules. Generally speaking, odd sizes, shapes and materials in cards are best avoided. One problem with odd sized cards is that they may not fit into the business card boxes and pouches that customers may possess. They may throw it at some place and when they want to really search for you, it may not be available readily for them. Too small a card might get lost due to careless handling or storing.

Information contained in the card

Needless to say that a typical business card contains the card owner's name, designation, contact phone number/ mobile number, e-mail ID, company name, logo, company address, company contact phone details and website address.

If the company has a tagline, it is also normally printed in the card.

If any details about the company's main products, services etc are to be shown, it is best done on the back side of the card in as much brevity as possible. Cramming too much of company/ product information into a tiny card, forcing it to look like a miniature pamphlet should definitely be avoided.

Other common business card mistakes

  • Using gaudy colors and shades in the prints
  • Using too-light grey or other light colors in the texts affecting readability.
  • Poor color combination between text and background (or white text within a light color background) leading to difficulty in reading the fine print
  • Spelling mistakes and typo
  • Incorrect proportioning of Logo and company title
  • Printing in portrait form rather than in the landscape form which is mostly the norm. Some designers may argue against this, but it is still prudent to follow certain traditional practices for the convenience of the customer.

Another common mistake - Not updating Information in Card

Another common business card mistake is the out-dated information appearing on the business cards. To reduce cost-per-card, people print business cards in large quantities and these cards lie with them for quite long. Over a period of time, anything figuring the card may change – phone number, cell number, office address, e-mail address, website address, owner’s designation etc. If the change is only minor (say phone number or cell number) people tend to avoid reprinting the cards all afresh.

Either people continue to hand over the old cards absentmindedly or scribble in a hurry any change in phone number etc on the card. While the former practice is outright bad, the latter practice lacks finesse.

One good practice would be to print business cards in less quantity (even though it means cost per card will be higher).

Even when a business card is printed afresh incorporating the latest changes, many times people tend to forget handing over their new cards to existing customers when they meet the next time. It is definitely a commonly seen business card mistake.

The tiny business card has lots of nuances built into it. It cannot be taken lightly, because it’s this little piece that’s going to bring potential customers to business.


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I agree that the font size and the weight of the card also shows your company image