The standard size of a business card is three and one half inches wide and two inches tall. That translates to 89 centimeters across and 51 centimeters tall.

That means on the standard sized business card you have 7 square inches to give someone a reason to remember you. You only have 4,539 square centimeters to tell your story.

How will you be remembered when that potential client pulls 4 business cards out of his pocket? Will he be able to distinguish between your business cards and your competitors?

You see, to have an effective business card, you must start with an effective design.

At this point, you have two options. You can pay someone to design your business card, and even then, they may or may not be designed effectively. The second option is to design your own business card.

The benefits of the first option are obvious, you don’t have to spend time designing your business card. However the downside is equally as obvious. Should you leave your business in the hands of that designer? Certainly not.

The second option is not as difficult as most people think. To design your own business card, you start with the basics, and finish when you feel it looks good.

Let’s get started! On every business card, there are essential items, and there are optional items. We will begin with the essentials and end with the optional stuff.

1. Name

To many people, this seems obvious, but is it really? What is the most important name on the business card, your name or the company name?

For 90% of people, it is your name. Since your name is the most important part of the card, it should be the biggest and easiest to see. You want people to remember the company, but more than that, you want them to remember you.

If they remember the company, but forget you, the business card has failed.

There are different opinions on where the name should go on the business card, but there is always one place that I prefer to all of the others. From my experience, the most effective position for your name on a business card is front and center.

Smack dab in the middle is hard to miss, and it is the first natural place our eyes want to go. Let the company logo sit up in a corner, and contact information in another corner.

If for some reason the center can’t be used for your name, I would stick to the basic design, top right.

2. Logo
Whether you own your own business, or if you work for someone else, the logo is the second most important part of a business card. If you work for someone else, then you most definitely need to have the company logo on your card.

By having their logo on your card, the company is lending their credibility to you.

Think of a car salesman at a dealership with that big blue Ford Motor Company logo. That logo is giving credibility to the person whose name is beside it.

If you are a small company starting out, or you alone are the company, this bit of information is priceless: Have a professionally designed logo created for you.

There are many companies that can create a professional looking logo for you, and it will definitely be worth the cost. Your logo should not just be your company name in a unique font and color.

For your logo to be effective it must be instantly recognizable. A professionally designed logo should also be “vector” based so that when you want to use it on a large scale, like a poster or billboard, it will still look good.

3. Important stuff first
It is best to list everything you want on your business card, and I have compiled a sample list: company name, your name, address, website address, phone number, fax number, cell number, home number, company logo, your picture, brand names you sell or represent, company motto, slogan or tagline, or your personal slogan.

Of course, you may want to add or take away from this list. It is best and usually easiest to put the most important information first.

Keep in mind that your name should be larger than anything else, except maybe your company logo.

Potential customers need to instantly remember you based on looking at your card. Then, if needed, they will easily be able to locate your phone number or other important contact information on your business card. You do not want people to have to search in order to find how to contact you.

4. Image
What is your image worth to you? Is your professional image worth 10 cents? I would surely hope that it was.

Let’s imagine that you are considering paying $100 for a thousand business cards. Those would be some very nice cards, in fact nearly 4 times the average cost of business cards (average cost per thousand is $25-30).

When it comes right down to it though, each business card costs less than a thin dime. Isn’t your professional image worth more than 10 cents? Wouldn’t you be willing to give out 10 cents to everyone you met if it meant that 10% would become customers?

10 cents is a ridiculously tiny expense for such a powerful tool. This is one area of your business that you should be willing to invest in.

Customers will notice if you have cheap looking business cards. Some may come to the conclusion that if you are not willing to invest in your image, then you are not willing to invest in selling a good product.

If you have ever received a card from a car salesperson it was most likely either white with contrasting colors on it, or had pictures of cars on it.

If you have ever received a card from a lawyer or attorney, it was probably clean with black or gold writing on it.

Here are a few more examples of typical cards:

  • Florists – Usually have a bouquet with a company logo and it may say if they deliver and their hours of operation.
  • Real Estate Agents – Most likely will have the agent’s picture and all of the associations that the agent belongs to.
  • Stereo, Audio, and Graphic design companies – Usually have pictures of speakers, amplifiers, cars, or images they’ve designed. Fonts are usually unique, bright and contrast.
  • You can get a mental picture of what type of image these different cards are attempting to project. You must decide what image you want your business card to project.

    Will it project an image of fun with bright colors and crazy fonts? Or will your image be that of class with gold and burgundy colors with old English type script?

    5. Color
    Color is very important on a business card. Without color your business card can look bland and boring. The goal is to get people to keep your business cards, and color is vitally important to reaching that goal.

    Don’t make the colors so bright and contrasting that they are annoying, but don’t just go black and white either.

    As you can see, with just a little forethought, you can turn an ineffective card thatjust gets thrown away, into a card so good your prospects will want one for themselves and one for a friend!