Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

Graphic Design + Business Cards

How To Design
A Better Business Card

May 15, 2018 • 5 min read

Your logo may be the cornerstone of your brand identity, but your collateral materials are your chance to reinforce a positive opinion of your brand. Even in today’s digital world a well-designed business card can be indispensable for business development. Let’s look at some ways to create a business card that will make a positive first impression.

Don’t Get Cornered By Poor
Business Card Design

We will begin with a typical business card. Something like the one below. At first glance, this design might not seem all that bad. It’s clean, simple, and easily readable. But, from a design standpoint, there is a lot we can do to make it better.

This kind of layout tells me either the business owner created it themselves, or they used a rookie designer. Why is all of the information pushed to the corners of the card? Did they feel the need to use all of the space and make the corners full? Don’t be afraid of whitespace. Instead, use it as a part of the design.

Pulling It All Together

By putting all of the information in the corners you weaken the message. Let’s pull the information together and use alignment to make the message stronger. And we come up with something like this:

Great! That’s much better right? Well, not really. It’s still a pretty boring design. Center aligning everything may seem like the obvious way to avoid the corners but is often the weakest solution to many design problems.

Don’t Be Afraid To Mix Things Up A Bit

Let’s play with contrast and see if we can come up with something a little more exciting. There are several ways you can create contrast in a design. Size, color, and typefaces can all be varied to establish visual interest.

We will work with all three to add contrast, and interest, to our business card. We’ll adjust the size of the logo, give the text a left alignment, and vary the color. Even if you have a tight budget you can use tints to create the illusion of more than one color.

There. That’s much more attractive than the beginning design. It’s not only more interesting, it’s more functional.

Using contrast, we’ve created a hierarchy providing a flow that leads your eye from the business name through the contact information. Notice the difference in how you read this card compared to the first. Your eyes no longer bounce around with no clear path to follow.

Now, Let’s Turn Things Up (Or Over)

Landscape format is the most common orientation for business cards. It’s traditional, easy to read, and looks good in card holders.

Portrait format, or vertical, business cards have become more common but are still unique enough to catch attention. One disadvantage is that they can be hard to read once placed in a cardholder.

If your budget allows you can use color to add even more contrast and interest. And it is becoming more common to see cards that are printed on both sides.

You Don’t Have To Choose Sides

If you choose to go with a two-sided card you’ll want to give some thought to what you put on each side. Generally, on the front of the card you will place:

  • Logo
  • Business name
  • Your name and what you do
  • Contact Information (email and phone at a minimum)

If your budget allows you can use color to add even more contrast and interest. And it is becoming more common to see cards that are printed on both sides.

Hover over the image above to see the back of the card.


The back of the card is a place to let your branding shine. For less traditional businesses original art or photography guarantees a unique result. This is also a great way to reinforce your brand identity with a large version of your logo.

Can You Fit 1,000 Words On A Business Card?

Not really, but they do say that a picture is worth a 1,000 words. And adding beautiful full-color photography is certainly a way to add quality to your business card. It can also help you reinforce your brand.

If you choose to add photography to the front of your card you may want to have it fade out behind the text. Never sacrifice the readability of your card for the sake of a pretty photo. If the photo is too busy, consider adding a color block behind the text to improve readability.

What Impression Will You Make?

By using contrast in size, color, and font we added visual interest while drawing the viewer’s attention to the right places. Remember those guidelines and you’ll have a better business card.

We’ve kept things fairly basic—and created a great business card. There are many other possibilities available to help make your card stand out even more. If the type of your business and your budget allow you might consider:

  • Square or custom shapes
  • Special finishes
  • Cutouts or folded cards
  • Embossed or letterpress cards
  • Other materials such as wood, plastic, or metal

Don’t go overboard. The more elements you choose, the better your designer and more specialized your printer will need to be. Choose too many unique elements and you’ll just end up with an expensive and gaudy card that sends the wrong impression. ?


  1. Darrien Hansen

    I like that you explained how adding a picture to your business card can make it look higher-quality. My uncle is interested in opening a paper company and would like to give a business card to local law firms. Maybe getting a business card with a picture will help him make a good first impression.

    • Todd Hagler

      Thanks, Darrien. I’m glad you found the piece helpful. Business cards are often not given the attention they deserve. But even with all our social media and digital communications, they can be an important way to connect with first-time customers. I’ve been negligent with getting new articles posted, but I’m working on that. Check back for more articles aimed at helping business owners market for success. And best of luck to your uncle on his new endeavor. Cheers!


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