The Line Between Creative but Professional, and Quirky Business Cards
Business cards can be the first lasting impression you leave with a potential business partner or customer. They also represent status and convey many intentional and unintentional messages about the person and the business they represent. This applies equally to the buttoned-down professional business world and to the more laissez-faire professional creative business world as well.
Unfortunately, many artsy business professionals design and print cards that may illuminate all of the quirks of their personality while falling far short of putting their best creative foot forward. Finding the line between the creative and professional and the downright quirky can be a challenge. The following quick guide should help.
Continuity of Design
Everyone loves a good yard sale, all manner of goods spread out on the grass in a chaotic jumble of bargain goodness with no attention paid to arrangement whatsoever. But a good piece of business communication, which is what a business card basically is, should not resemble a yard sale at all.
Just because you own an organic coffee import business, doesn’t mean that all of your business cards need to be hand scented and stained with some of your freshest cold brew. And mixing your business contact info in with a handful of customer testimonials, an inspirational quote, part of your mission statement, a bible verse, and directions to your front door, all in different fonts and accompanied by artwork, a business logo, and a few extra graphic flourishes does little to serve your business interest in having cards made.
Keep the design elements to as few as will tastefully fit, and make sure there is continuity to your design, all the fonts match, and that each element complements the others and the whole.
Incorporation of Artwork
Artwork that speaks to what your business does is fine to incorporate, provided that it doesn’t make it more difficult for people to read your contact information. Also, any artwork, photography, or other illustration should look professionally done.
This generally rules out anything that your family members and friends can whip up or anything that you might be able to whip up yourself (unless you are, in fact, a professional artist), and any and all clip art.
Unfortunately, using professional artwork that you either scan from a book or find unprotected on the Internet is not only unethical, it violated intellectual property (copyright and or trademark) law. For good artwork that you are free to use, consider conducting an image search through Creative Commons, or another licensing site.
Taking the extra steps to secure permission to use professional artwork really doesn’t have to be that big a hassle, and it’s the right thing to do.
Simplicity Reigns With Some Biz Cards
A business card has one really simple, really core job to do: act as a carrier for your business contact information.
Anything else is secondary to this primary function and either works as an added value, or detracts from the recipient’s perception of you and your business.
When you find yourself questioning whether to add further design elements, artwork, text, or font choices to your basic design, ask yourself a simple question: does this enhance or take away from the task the business card is supposed to perform?
With business cards, a few tastefully executed elements will generally speak louder, and more directly, than trying put represent every aspect of your business and personality in that one space.