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If you're in the graphic design business, you know that your reputation, not to mention the stability of your pocketbook, depends on your ability to create striking designs that ultimately impress your clients. Even though they're the simplest form of advertising, business cards can be one of the most difficult mediums to design. This is because every business card must include the same type of information, and you're typically limited to a small 3.5-inch by 2-inch rectangle, which leaves little room for much more than text, a photo and a logo. The key to standing out - and therefore impressing your clients - is to experiment with business card layout.
Here are a few tips for creating business card layouts that clients love.
Contrasting backgrounds or shapes
An easy way to make a business card layout pop is to contrast backgrounds between two sections of the card. For instance, you could place the logo and company name on a white background on the top half of a horizontal layout, use a curved line for a divider, then distinguish the bottom half by filling it with a shade of one of the company's colors. This bottom half is where you could put the contact information and tagline.
You could also put pertinent information in shaded boxes, circles, triangles or other shapes - just be sure to limit yourself to three colors, and remember that two colors are often enough to create a stunning design.
Amateur designers often use large fonts that cheapen the overall look of the card. Clients want to look like distinguished experts in their given field, whether they're professional clowns or corporate executives. Small text can be both fun and elegant and will never make a card look gaudy. This isn't to say the font shouldn't be readable, so keep in mind that most fonts will look best in the 10- to 14-point range. Your clients' cards will look great in these sizes, and their clients will begin to respect their business on first glance.
Often, a company name, card-issuer name, or tagline will look great when placed as a design element perpendicular to the rest of the card's text. A horizontal card, for instance, might have a photo on the far left with the company's name positioned vertically on the photo's right side. The top right quadrant could be white with the card-issuer's name and position, and the bottom right quadrant could be shaded in one of the company's colors and can contain the tagline and contact information.
Business card designers typically center text in the middle of the card, or right justify everything with a centered business name. This is pretty basic approach, and it's also pretty bland. Mix things up in your business card layout with offsetting elements. You could use a vertical layout and put the individual's name in the top left corner, center the logo a few spaces down, then right justify the company name and contact information at the bottom of the business card. Experiment with your business card layout elements, resize them, reposition them, and soon you'll find a whole new world of business card designs.
The big picture (break out of the box)
In many industries it's standard to include a photo of the individual on business cards. Traditionally, these photos are contained in small boxes in the upper right quadrant of the business card. Today's creative designers, however, are breaking outside the box with larger photos that lend to the overall aesthetic appeal of business cards. One idea is to put a large photo that takes up about one-third of the card's total space and use a transparent gradient to fade it into the rest of the business card layout. Other ways to emphasize a specific person and their skills include using a full-body photo interacting with the card's text elements (smiling and pointing to the tagline, for instance) or depicting the person working, like a contractor with a clipboard supervising a home construction.
All business cards serve the same purpose, but that doesn't mean they all have to look the same. Elegant design comes in many shapes, styles, colors, and layouts - if you truly want to impress, get creative and blend tried-and-true elements with unique style to create solid business card layouts that clients love.