With a focus on digital communication and LinkedIn contacts, the question of whether business cards are relevant or effective often comes up. But the fact of the matter is that business cards remain quite relevant for many people, if they’re designed and used correctly. There’s been a shift: instead of ordering hundreds or thousands of basic, cheaper business cards, many of our clients will often order smaller batches of higher-quality or more custom cards to help them stand out. They’re perhaps using them less frequently, but putting more thought into them so that when they are used, they’re sending a message.

Much like direct mail, the decline in use of printed business cards offers an opportunity to stand out. While LinkedIn inboxes are flooded, providing a business card to a contact can help you remain top of mind. We’ve got 5 tips for designing business cards that remain relevant in a digital world.

1. Keep it simple

A cluttered card with too much information becomes immediately overwhelming. A business card is a small space, but it’s important to provide necessary information while still giving the card the same whitespace you would with any other design. Provide the relevant information, but don’t overdo it. No need to label the fields (we’ve all seen the formatting of an email address before!) or list out every service you offer. Your focus here is to make an impression on the recipient and encourage them to reach out to your or stay in touch.

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2. Consider custom design elements

Like any other marketing message, standing out in a crowded field is key to a successful business card. In terms of design, one way to achieve this is by incorporating custom design elements such as die-cut, unique shapes, foil stamping and more. Check out this post for some of the most cutting-edge custom design elements that add texture, an element of surprise or beautiful color to your cards and this post for some of the trends we’ve been seeing lately.

3. Use the card to communicate your brand message or values

With the advent of LinkedIn, using a card simply to communicate contact information is Metallicoutdated. But using it to communicate your brand message or values is brilliant. Consider a card the ultimate in marketing pieces: it’s small and requires you to get very focused in communicating your brand visually and by touch. How do you create a card that’s in line with your brand? Think about what is central to it. If you’re a luxury brand, consider super thick card stock or soft cotton cards, for example. Irreverent? Consider a unique shape or a die-cut that allows you to open a hidden portion of the card.

This is where a professional creative team can help. While many people DIY their business cards, incorporating it into your overall brand identity and marketing plan – not just throwing a logo on a card and calling it a day – can help it become part of a cohesive brand message. Professional creatives are great at thinking outside the box and using a small business card to its fullest to communicate in more than just words.

4. Provide a digital link

You’ve designed a beautiful business card, but at some point it’s going to get lost. Plus, being made of paper, once it’s made its initial impression, it can’t update the recipient any further, or poke them to remind them to get in touch. So make sure there’s a CTA to connect with you digitally on there. Whether it is a reminder to connect on LinkedIn, to sign up for your newsletter, like your Facebook page, Instagram handle, etc. – providing that opportunity allows you to remain a relevant part of the user’s digital life through your own digital feed.

5. Make your card useful and memorable

If you do want your card to hang around a bit longer, consider getting creative with how it can be used. Often, companies use the backs of their business cards to provide a coupon or offer code (this is great for retail or service businesses), ensuring that card will hang around in the customer’s wallet for redemption. We’ve seen everything from business cards with seeds embedded (that you can plant and grow) to this ridiculously cool interactive business card that provides a science tutorial. HubSpot has a list of the coolest useful business cards, including a cheese grater, bike wheel patch and even a temporary tattoo.

Looking to refresh your business card design? Our creative services and printing teams have the skinny on the best trends and the perfect fit for your brand message. Let’s talk about how your business cards can make an impact!

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