What to put on a business card

We’re a graphic design agency in Essex and designing business cards is a pretty regular thing for us.  The one question we commonly get asked is “What to put on a business card?”

A business card is a personal introduction to yourself and your business, an advert, a communication document and a reminder of who you are as well as how to get in touch.  It sounds straight forward but two factors get into your head and make the whole thing a mountain out of a molehill:

  • What is appropriate business card etiquette?
  • What details can I/should I put on a business card?

Business Card Etiquette

Business Cards used to be a monotonous regime with the same generic details on every card.  Etiquette said that business cards should be plain and white to show professionalism and if you want to be fancy with your business card design then a textured paper stock could be used as a more glamorous option.

The keyword here was “professionalism” because the idea of business used to have a bit of a stuffy stereotype.  All of it was about corporate buildings, suits and ties, and inner-city workings where business cards were handed out. This environment was what defined the term “professional” and hence why the business card had built an etiquette in the same way.

Business Card Details

Business card details use to consist of:

  • Company Name
  • Name
  • Credentials
  • Position
  • Tel Number
  • Fax Number
  • Address

This was not down to etiquette.  These details were used because these were the only communication lines available at the time.  Commonly, today, I get asked what details can I put on my business card:

  • Should I put my skype address on it?
  • Should I have my social links on it?
  • Should I put bullet points and straplines on it?
  • Should I put my address on it?
  • Should they match my letterheads?
  • Should they represent me or my company?

Because of old business card etiquette, many think that a business card design must have a certain regulated and official format with required details like a letterhead, but it doesn’t. A business card design can be whatever you want it to be.

The key to a good business card design is functionality. It has to allow people to get in touch with you?

If Skype and social links play a big part of your business then put them on the business card, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t and as long as there’s one single contact element on there, then you’re good to go.  A better way to look at it is to look at your business and marketing activities itself.

How do you use your Business card?

The way you use your business card should determine what you put on it:

  • Do you give them out sparingly or dish them out like flyers?
  • Are they a personal brand business card just for you or a generic business card representing the whole company?

If you use them like flyers or as a generic representation of your company then go ahead and put sales points on there. It’s actually informative!

If you’re more personal with your cards and used to represent you rather than a company then keep it simple and elegant (that does not mean boring).

Branding with your business card design.

Keep your business card design in-line with the rest of your stationery but a business card can have a little more creative flair. The idea is not to stray from the brand identity but to create something that extends your brand imagery with the card design. It can be more colourful and graphic than your letterheads.

Heres a common list of elements that we put on business cards today:

  • Name
  • Credentials
  • Position
  • Address
  • Website url
  • Blog url
  • Social links (Whatever ones you use)
  • Office Tel
  • Mob
  • Fax
  • Address
  • Email
  • Skype
  • Strapline
  • Sales bullet points

Overall your own business scenario may be very different to anything mentioned above so remember its design communication! There are no rules, just guidelines. Add in a little of your own personal preferences, be bold and with advice from your designer, do what you think is relevant and works best for you and your business.


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