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Get creative with your business cards!

Nyla Smith | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Creative business cardBusiness cards are, without a doubt, the most common marketing piece there is. But that doesn't mean it has to look common! Read on for a few creative business card ideas you may want to consider.

Because it's so commonplace, people tend to underestimate the lowly business card. But that is the very reason it has so much potential — it presents a powerful opportunity to stand out from the sea of other cards! In addition to various paper weights, specialty inks, or finishing options, here are other ways of creating a unique business card.

Use multiple designs

Generally, all of your business cards look the same. ...As it should be, right? Sure, maybe. But it is possible to have a different design on every business card. Of course you don't want each card to be drastically different, but you can create multiple versions of your card that still cohesively represent your brand. This is a good opportunity to showcase an individual image or product on your card.

Good for:

  • Photographers: feature a different photo as a background on each card
  • Speakers: feature a motivational quote on the back of each card
  • Artists: feature different piece of artwork on each card
  • Jewelers: feature high quality images of standout jewelry pieces on each card

Edible business cards

Want to make an instant positive impression? Give someone a chocolate or cookie business card to munch on! In practical terms, this is more a promotional item than a true business card; once they eat your business card cookie, it's gone! But this is a really nice gesture to send to your favorite client as a "Thank You", or attach it to your paper business card to give away at events or trade shows. 

Good for:

  • Trade show promotional items
  • Client appreciation gifts
  • Bakeries

Die-cut business cards

Die-cut cards are a sure way to stand out. The possibilities here are endless (though may at some point be limited by your budget). You can create business cards in any shape you want, or with a shape punched out of the card. If it is a custom shape, this process has a more expensive upfront cost because you will first need to pay for the metal die of your shape to be created. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for this alone. However, on reprints, you will not need to pay for this again because you will be using the same die. If you want a basic die-cut shape without this cost, many printers offer standard shapes (like ovals or squares) at only a small additional charge.  

Good for:

  • Realtors: Have a business card in the shape of a house, with the roof extending off the top
  • Locksmiths: Die cut the shape of a keyhole in the middle of your card
  • Dog Groomer: Create your business card in the shape of a bone

Alternate material business cards

Who said your business card had to be paper? Other options are metal business cards, plastic business cards, or wooden business cards. A metal card could be stainless steel, copper, brass... it can be etched or printed.... it could have a textured, brushed, or smooth finish. It could also be die-cut into a usable tool, like a bottle opener. A biodegradable plastic card could be clear, frosted, or opaque, and have a variety of printing options. A wooden card can be made of any number of tree species — maple, cherry, walnut, or birch, for example. Wooden cards maintain the natural appearance of the wood grain, so each card would be unique. All of these options are generally waterproof, tear-proof, and resilient; so if it's longevity you're after, think about one of these non-standard, but earth-friendly, materials. 

Good for:

  • Technology or Engineering firm: Perhaps a metal or plastic card will communicate hi-tech better than a paper card would
  • High-end Fashion Store: A frosted plastic card with a sophisticated design will communicate a luxurious brand
  • Tree Service, Lumber Company, or Furniture-maker: Wooden cards can emphasize your service or craft
  • "Green" companies: Use wooden cards to show a commitment to a sustainable earth, while still reflecting your brand in a unique way.

Plantable business cards

Have your business card printed on eco-friendly paper that has wildflower seeds embedded in it. Once planted and watered, it will grow into flowers! This could be another instance where practicality dictates this be labeled a promotional item — the recipient can't access your contact information if it's buried in the ground. However, the cards don't have to be planted, and certainly not everybody who receives one will. For those that keep the card, a simple "Plant me and make the world a more beautiful place!" could still indicate a sense of environmental responsibility that would resonate positively.

Good for:

  • "Green" companies
  • Florists / Nurseries
  • Organic grocery stores

There are other ways that you can make your business card stand out.  Maybe for you it's decorative foil or metallic ink. Maybe it's a spot varnish. Maybe it's a suede finish. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should hopefully serve to enlighten or remind you of what's possible.

If you can afford to have a creative business card that stands out, you should. My own business cards, which are currently vertical with rounded corners printed on a silver metallic heavy cover weight, almost always elicit a response from recipients about how unique, nice, professional, etc. they are. While they are slightly more expensive, they honestly don't cost an arm and a leg. I do this because the value of having somebody remember me or my business based solely on the merits of my business card far outweighs the extra cost of having the cards produced! I've seen it come back around to me many times. So if you are in a competitive or highly saturated industry, I recommend that a unique and professional business card be one of the tools in your marketing arsenal. You're handing out cards all the time anyway — make them make a difference!

Nyla Smith is a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and Front-End Web Developer with over 11 years of experience. She is the owner of n-Vision Designs, LLC in Hampton, Virginia, which exists to provide marketing support to small- and medium-sized businesses that need creative solutions. Contact Nyla if you'd like to discuss your next creative project. She can usually be bribed to a meeting with a cup of green tea and an oatmeal cookie.
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