Business Cards That Work

Business Cards That Work

It’s just a little bit of paper… just two inches high by three inches wide, just an unassuming piece of paper with a name and a phone number on it….so why is it so important?

Because it’s your business card! Oftentimes, it is one of the first impressions that is made about you and/or your company, and you will want it to be a good one!

Business cards come in many shapes and sizes, printed out on perforated paper at home or professionally designed and printed. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing this, you can even get them printed free, as long as you are willing to carry advertising for the printer on the back side of the card!

Just as letterhead printed on premium business papers will say something about your company, your business card can serve as a strong brand indicator. Take some time to make sure it says something about YOU or YOUR COMPANY.

When you are designing your business card, there are MANY decisions to be made. What size is it going to be? Is it one-color or four? Printed on one side or two? What type of paper do you want to use—thick or thin? White or ecru? Speckled or plain? 100% cotton paper or some other material? Raised type or embossed or plain ink? Oversized or standard? Vertical or horizontal?

Your business card has the opportunity to be a little mini marketing piece. It may start out with a logo, name and number, but should go so much farther! I’ve seen business cards as a “book,” business cards with questions, business cards with QR codes or urls for higher engagement. When I was a Senior Brand Manager at LEGO, my business cards had a variety of mini figures on the back. You never knew which one someone was going to get when you handed over the card. That idea conveyed the fun, creativity and never-ending possibilities that epitomize what LEGO is all about (and by extension, the people that support that brand. When I was the Brand Manager for Miracle-Gro, my business card was shaped like the iconic yellow and green box of plant food. This made such a strong branding statement to all of my current and future business partners.

Christine Kalafus, entrepreneur and owner of Stitch Drapery , labored long and hard on the development of her business card. Because she designs and installs custom window treatments, it was critical to convey the premium nature of the brand experience she was providing to her clients. She chose square rich, thick paper and specified embossed inks to properly convey her brand. When she hands out her square business card, it’s a completely tactile experience that subtly begins to let her potential customers know what a rich and lovely experience they will have by working with her.

So what does your brand stand for and how can that be expressed through your business card? Take the time to review your brand characteristics and figure out what impression or action you want to create when someone is holding it in their hands. It could be that you want to elicit a smile or make them pick up the phone to call you. Then figure out how that gets expressed graphically and visually.

Then, the next time you are exchanging business cards with someone, the experience will be elevated so far beyond the mundane passing of cookie-cutter cards. You’ll spark rich conversations, convey something about your brand, and feel great about this mini-brochure that makes a strong brand statement for you and your company.

Rahna Barthelmess is a branding strategist and author of the soon-to-be released personal branding bible Turbo-Charge Your Career. You can find out more about branding and personal branding at

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  1. smartin
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Rahna. You’re right. We should pay attention to every single detail when it comes to personal or business branding. Southworth has some Business Card templates to get people started. Here’s the link: /business/templates/templates-business-cards/

  2. saber
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Dear Rahna,

    I really enjoyed reading your article and actually I have a challenge for your experience!
    actually, I am trying to start my own freelance Marketing & Strategy service and personally I am person who looks for creating integrated solutions and sustainability in business operations while creating value for the whole-ecosystem.

    I have been thinking of designing a BusinessCard which could convey about points, especially the integrity part and I would love to have your advices.

    looking forward to hearing from you,

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