Tuesday, March 12, 2013

5 Things Your Business Cards Must Have in 2013

You will need something new for your 2013 business cards. Business cards today have evolved to be more than just pieces of paper, and there are a lot of new and even exciting features that many people have thought up and integrated into their card designs. Some are classic but distinct features that make a business card look high quality, while others are very modern features that make them look up to date.

If you really want to make a good impression with your business cards today, I suggest that you look at some of these amazing tricks that we have found people are doing to their own cards. There are a lot of creative features out there worth adapting on your own designs.

Number 1: A Third Dimension

Now, this is not about hi-tech transforming business cards (though that would be cool).  For this first feature, we are talking about just expanding business cards a little bit to the third dimension to embossing.

Embossing, if you are not familiar with the concept is basically the act of creating raised or recessed (or pressed) features in paper. So much like how in your credit card, your name and numbers are raised, so can you do it as well in your business card. This “third” dimension in your card not only makes it look a bit like a modern credit card, but it also gives tactile feedback that will enhance the chance of your card being remembered. Also, this kind of embossing typically increases the perception of the quality of the business card, as it seems to take on a more hardier, plastic feel afterwards. Most business card printing firms should be able to do this for you. Printplace.com for example can give you custom choices on how you want your text and logos to be embossed in your business card designs.

Below is a great example of an embossed business card from Stadium Sporting Goods. The embossed lines simulate metal or rubber etchings which give the card a more solid feel. You will definitely remember a business card with that.
business card from Stadium Sporting Goods

 Number 2: A Virtual Dimension

The next thing that your business card needs these days is a virtual dimension. Nope, this is not some TRON or Virtual Reality kind of device. It is simply the need for your business card to feature your online connections and profiles.

As you should no doubt have learned, all businesses, great or small need an online presence. This includes having a website, an official email address, and several official profiles and pages inside social networks. This virtual identity of a company is important because more and more people search for products and trustworthy services online.

Now, if you are using a business card, giving out a link to those social profiles will be important. Not only does it tell people that your company is up to date with the times, but it also gives them the opportunity to interact with you more easily, as more likely than not, they too have social profile handles.  Below you will find a very simple example of a business card with that virtual dimension from a collection in Mashable.

As you can see from the image , the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube links are integrated into the content, along with the website and the person’s email address. In some other business cards, you may also see Google Plus and LinkedIn URLs as these are also great social networks to be on. All of these add more credibility to the business card, and of course people will know they can easily reach you through these sites.

Number 3: Enhanced Visual Dimension

One of the more crucial elements that you need in business cards today are enhanced visuals. A typical clipart, the boring one colored logo “can” be okay, but it will not have the needed impact that most businessmen want today. You need that enhanced visual dimension these days to impress people as most today have higher standards when it comes to visual art they see both online and offline.

This means that you need things like dynamic gradient backgrounds (more than one color), crystal clear graphics and of course lots of simulated texture effects.  If you are not a graphics designer, then you may want to have a good artist do these things for you, usually through some great software such as Adobe Photoshop. Below you can see a great example from Laachi.

Here you see that the background has some different shades of blue, with a texture or grunge application. Notice as well that even the text has different shades of white, as defined by the grunge application of the design. This adds the gritty and creative style that the designer of the business card wanted to convey, and they conveyed it beautifully. You will want these types of amazing effects to establish the next important must have feature of 2013 business cards, and that is a clear original character.

Number 4: Clear Original Character

Now, character is something that ALL business cards must have in whatever year. However, it is significantly more important these days as more and more people are just using pre-made templates or copying other designs for their own.

YOUR own business card design is the key now to be at least considered as someone to pay attention to. Otherwise, if you just look like any other business card out there, or even if you copy some of the other designs from the web or on magazines etc. you will just be branded a copycat more or less.

That is why in your designs, make sure that you show your original character, as a professional, or at a greater extend the image that you want your company to embody. For example, see the image below. As you can figure out, they are a construction company. The black and yellow team established that correctly, and with the addition of textures and even an off cut on one corner, you see a professional looking construction company by just the design of the business card. So it is a great way to establish that professional character, something that you should try doing yourself.

Number 5: Technological Upgrade

Finally, since we are in a very “technological” age, you will want to include one hi-tech upgrade to your business cards. In this regard, I have two suggestions. One is a QR code and another is an NFC chip. Now what are these and how do they help you? Well let me briefly discuss each.

• QR Codes – Quick response codes or QR codes are graphic blogs (black and white) that can be scanned by smart phones with QR code scanners. Through a camera, the code can be interpreted by the phone and it will redirect the mobile phone browser to the website specified by the code. This allows a business card designer to direct a reader to his/her website directly and feature something about themselves online immediately. More on QR codes here:  http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2011/07/30-creative-qr-code-business-cards/ .

• NFC Chips – Near Field Communications, in simple terms basically are special chips that can be embedded in paper. Mobile phones enabled to read NFC’s can detect these chips and read information from them. This can include contact information about someone or other kind of data that you want to pass on. This is a relatively new technology  and the good thing about this is that it can be updated when you want to (unlike QR codes). More on NFC chips here: http://bgr.com/2012/09/27/moo-nfc-business-cards/  .

So pay attention and make sure you have at least 3 of the 5 features above for your business cards. It is best to use ALL of them of course to get the best responses and opportunities for your business card.

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