The Art of the Business Card

One of the most common human interactions in the business world is the classic business card exchange. Have you ever been handed that business card that made you say to yourself, “Damn, they are the real deal”? And on the other end of the spectrum, have a card handed to you that was flimsy, and with no design thought? The weight of the paper, the print techniques, the way it feels. It’s all psychologically accounted for.

Look at that subtle off white coloring, the tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark.

Make A Big Impression

The first impression is the most important one. It sets the tone of your business. It gives a preview of your personality, professionalism, and quality of your business. I’ve even had clients tell me that they picked up a new client without even knowing them. Simply because they saw their card and were so impressed, they called them right away.

So, as a business owner how can you set this tone?

Pick the Right Vendor

This may sound simple enough, but it hardly ever is. Picking a vendor who has the skillset, knowledge, and precision to execute your vision correctly will make all the difference. Avoid online printers such as VistaPrint and Moo if you can. While more often than not they are cost effective, they will never outperform the service and care you will get with a professional print shop in your area. If your budget doesn’t allow it, Moo and PrimoCards are your best bet. I’ve used them in the past for a variety of print jobs and they came out pleasing.

Pro Tip! If you use Moo, be wary of using a solid color on one side. Especially dark colors like black. I’ve found in the past it will smear and rub very easily due to digital printing.

Pick the Right Paper

Smooth? Eggshell? Silk? Pearlescent? I could go on with the list of choices. Neenah Paper has more than 20 variations of white.

There’s also an ocean of brands to navigate. Some notable quality brands include:

  1. Reich
  2. Neenah Paper
  3. Mohawk Paper
  4. French Paper — Fun fact; French has been powered by fully renewable hydroelectric generators installed in 1922.
  5. Cougar

It’s all in the Technique

This is where design comes into play. If you’re a designer, it’s important to take in consideration how the design will translate onto the card. If you’re a business, a designer should educate and provide guidance on translating the vision of your brand into print.

Foil Stamping

This is the “oooh….ahhh” of printing. It’s hands down my favorite technique to use because it leaves a “stand above the rest” impression. Foil stamping is the process of a metal die that is cut in the shape of your design and pressed into a special film-backed material. The foil then releases onto the paper with a combination of heat and pressure. If you’re a high-end brand, or you want to make the highest of impressions, go with foil. Let er’ shine.

Paper: Neenah Classic Crest Epic Black Smooth | Weight: 130C Duplexed to 260C | Foil: Crown 31189 (Blue) + 8800m Blackout
Paper: Neenah Classic Crest Antique Grey | Weight: 80C Duplexed to 160 | Foil: API 1842g Stone | Designed By: KNOED

Let er’ press.

Letterpress was invented in the mid-15th century by Johannes Gutenberg and lives on to this day. Letterpress is beautiful to the eye and has a wonderful tactile sensation. This process takes a plate and impresses inks onto (typically) thicker sheets of paper. When using letterpress it’s even more important to consider the paper choice for the project.

Paper: French Dur-O-Tone Steel Grey + Construction Grout Gray. | Designed By: ITAL/C
Paper: French PopTone Orange Fizz | Weight: 100C Duplexed to 200C | Blind + Black Ink

Embossing + Debossing

This effect is usually used in tandem with foil stamp and/or offset. What’s unique about this process is its ability to create three-dimensional designs. Embossing produces a raised image, while debossing produces a depressed image. Again, heat and pressure combine to reshape the paper and create the image. Their is several variations of this technique.

  1. Single Level — Only one level of raised paper
  2. Multi-Level /Sculpted— This is used for detail. Multi-level brings multiple layers to the final piece and is great for detail.
  3. Beveled — A single level, with beveled edges. Not straight.
Paper: Black Museum Board Technique: White + Emboss/Deboss, Designed By: The McQuades
Paper: 130 lb Mowhalk Uncoated card, Neon 130 lb card | Design By: Brief Studio

Print is Not Dead

Technology is growing, and with our obsession with digital products and tech it’s clear that many things are going digital. However, print is alive and well. Nothing will ever surpass the tactility of print and the emotion it can convey whether it be a business card, a coffee table book or that special annual report. And if there’s one thing that won’t ever change in business, it’s relationships, and every business relationship begins at the first handshake and “Here’s my card”.

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Twitter is where I speak my other thoughts.




Designer with a love for Branding and Strategy.

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Nolan Marketti

Nolan Marketti

Designer with a love for Branding and Strategy.

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