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What Makes a Business Card ‘Cool?’

cool business card design If you’re someone whose work puts in you in contact with new people on a regular basis, you probably have a substantial supply of business cards. Doubtlessly, you also have a nice collection of business cards from the professionals you meet. Perhaps you’ve encountered one or two that caused you to pause and examine it more closely, thinking “Wow, that’s a cool card!”

It’s an accomplishment when something as common as a business card can hold anyone’s attention for more than a split second. But their purpose is to tell recipients something about the person handing it out. Bright colors, gilded printing, or odd shapes that don’t inform others about what makes you (or the business you represent) worth knowing, is the equivalent of an engine backfiring amidst the usual background noise. Folks notice briefly; then go their merry ways.

A quick Google search for ‘cool business card designs’ will quickly turn up many, many examples of some that aren’t so easily forgotten. For instance, we ran across this list at boredpanda.com. Included are a fitness trainer’s card in the form of an overweight man. A perforation lets you instantly remove his pot belly. Another from a yoga instructor shows a young woman contorting herself. Fingers inserted through holes in this card, creates the illusion her touching the top of her head with the bottom of her feet. A card from a divorce lawyer is perforated to split right down the middle. (The attorney’s contact information is on both sides.)

These examples are very clever, but more importantly, they help reinforce the value of the purveyors’ services. That they get the message across in a unique and entertaining way, also suggests that this is not just another cookie-cutter operation. (Of course, a nifty business card may have been the only innovative thing any of these businesses have ever done, but “so what?” as long as they produce sales leads.)

Now words of caution: clever or ‘cool’ business cards may not be right for your business. Or rather, any unusual element about your business card should match your brand image. Humor isn’t automatically the right tone for every kind of business. Additionally, some companies prefer to stress seriousness and authoritativeness over wit and frivolity. This isn’t to say that sober professions can’t have distinctive business cards. However, a funeral home with a card that lets you lift a casket cover to reveal information, isn’t something you want to give grieving clients.

And no matter how breathtaking the design, a business card must always be functional. First, there’s a reason most cards are sized and shaped as they are. Often when we receive a business card, our shirt or blazer pockets, wallets, or pocketbooks are about the only places that we can easily save them. Otherwise, we’d either have to carry them or look for a trash can. The design must also accommodate the person’s name, contact information, a company name and probably a business tagline or statement about the kind of services or products being offered. Finally, business cards should also complement existing branding in terms of color choices, fonts or use of imagery. That’s a lot of design boxes to check!

Is it worth the effort to attempt a cool business card? Well, it’s probably not a ‘must have’ for your marketing materials. Don’t be pressured, and don’t force anything. Have your attractive, functional and brand-consistent business cards, but keep an open mind. Then, when great idea comes to you—or from an employee, friend or family member—go for it!

Check out some of our other articles about design and business development.