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The Art of Saying Hello – Good Business Card Design

ngd Agency Business Cards

ngd Agency Letterpress Business Cards With Edge Painting

First Impressions count, you may not like it but it’s a fact.

We’ve all been to business networking meetings and received a shocking business card. Maybe the type is to small to read, maybe it doesn’t tell you what they do so you have to write all over it to complete their job. Worst of all, maybe it’s printed on stock so thin you could swear you can see through it!

That is my bugbear. The man or woman at this point is pretty much going to have to say they’ve got Nobel Prizes in all six categories to salvage the first impression…

The simple fact is if they don’t value their company and it’s products, why should I? 

I would always recommend having your card printed on good quality card. You never know how many people it may get passed to in a large organisation. There is nothing worse than a dog-eared mangled card (apart from thin stock) again, what does that say about your business?

If their business card feels like it’s printed on toilet paper, unless they sell toilet paper, hot curries or an associated business it just gives off the wrong message.

Of late we like many other agencies have had clients wishing to trim budgets in these tough economic times. Some think compromising on stock is a good way of saving money.. it’s not! You can spend thousands of pounds with us designing your logo/branding/stationary (please form an orderly queue, details on my business card above) but to a certain extent it’s all wasted if it’s then printed on substandard stock. I can’t emphasise this enough. Luckily we were able to prove the benefits to these clients and all in hindsight have thanked us for pushing them on this issue.

Nowadays with face-to-face marketing becoming more important, the business card, your business card has to inform and standout among the many that’ll be picked up.

So below I’ve written about a few key elements for a good business card design. At the end of the day it’s information design, it’s guiding the eye through the hierarchy of details so the recipient can absorb the bit of information they want quickly.

So what makes a good business card.

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A good business card contains all the necessary information and is easy to read.

Over the years we’ve adapted our cards as times have changed, from obvious things like dropping our ISDN and FAX details to putting our social media information on the cards and QR codes.

We started off with a very designery (sic) minimal card, which just had our logo, name and telephone number on it. It looked great, it said we’re designers, it also demonstrated our craft but we soon had to start adding things. I think minimal cards are great or personal cards but if you’re a business it should offer the complete solution and reflect your business ideals/values, your brand at the same time.

With so many points of contact you could just have a single link on your card, forwarding recipients to a vCard single page site like my one here, but why make the recipient jump through hoops, just give them the information. Yes it means the Zen like white space we designers crave for is all but gone but it saves a load of emails and phone calls explaining your Twitter account and blog details, I can tell you!

We’ve also noticed over the years that if you become known for doing brochures or websites by a particular client more and more they just think thats all you do. More than once we’ve missed the opportunity to cross sell to clients as for some reason they didn’t think we designed leaflets as well as Newsletters or some such…  Again just give them the information. To quote Travis Dane in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory  Assumption is the mother of all F*CK UPS!

A good business card stands out from the others in the stack.

This is so true with networking meetings, just make sure whatever device you use it’s on-brand and not gimmicky. Ours are edge painted in fluorescent red for exactly this reason, even in a pack of business cards, ours can be found quickly. We stand out.

A good business card should reflect or demonstrate the business or individual.

Our key benefit is that we make our clients stand out from the competition. As a recipient of one of our cards said so eloquently:

“it explains exactly what you do and demonstrates it at the same time, what a great marketing tool”

A good business card gets a response.

See above. We’ve had client’s ask if they can take multiples, to show others. One said it was like receiving a little gift in comparison to other cards! I’ll take that everytime…

A good business card should be an extension of your brand

It should fit in with all your other marketing material. If you covered a table with all your leaflets, business cards and brochures along with those of other companies a client should be able to pick out all your material without reading a word, just by colour and design.

Again if that isn’t the case with your material, we should chat.

ngd Agency Business Cards

ngd Agency Letterpress Printed Business Cards

A good business card is well designed.

This is obvious but we still sees many out there that look like they’ve been printed from one of those vending machines you see in shopping mauls! If that’s you, you need help, we can help you, call us!

A good business card is well printed.

Again this is not an area to try to save money, all the money you’ve spent on design and stock is potentially wasted if you make the wrong choices here. We work with lots of printers for different requirements. Call us if you’d like us to control your print?

Conversely a poorly designed card well printed is still poorly designed.

Our cards were printed letterpress, a very old printing process which has remained more or less unchanged for centuries. The look and feel are unmistakable with the inked surface becoming debossed, giving the cards a real tactile quality.

They were printed on 700gsm stock by Glasgow Press and I thoroughly recommend them. Give Dan or Lorna a call (0141 237 3032) and feel the quality!

I hope you’ve found the information of use and would welcome any constructive comments or feedback.

I’ll end with a film clip that most designers know. It’s a very good adaptation from the passage in the book American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis where the traders compare business cards. Art imitating life….  …The tasteful thickness of it.


Filed under: Branding, Business Advice, Design, marketing, QR Codes, social media, Typography, , , , ,

The effect of quality design – A Client Testimonial

Andrew Plumb business cards by ngd Agency

Andrew Plumb – Elite Ski and Fitness. Business cards designed by ngd Agency


At ngd Agency we work with the whole range of companies, from multinationals to sole trader start-ups. A few months ago we were approached by Andrew who was starting his business and asked us to help form his vision.

Over a period of weeks we developed and refined the logo from 6 routes down to one. The final version was discussed in this earlier post because of it’s use of negative space.

After that we have produced his stationery and hope to produce further marketing material as his business expands.

A few weeks after he started using his business cards we received this lovely testimonial:

“The finished product has far exceeded my expectations. You took on board my brief and have created products that enhance my business image.

When people look at my new logo, they tend to start a conversation. The business cards are a show stopper! Even among a roomful of ‘professional networkers’ who see many new cards each week, my cards attract attention more than any other card in the room.

I cannot thank you enough.”

No, Thank you Andrew. In these busy times clients rarely put pen to paper to say thank you and so it means a lot when they do.

As designers we thrive on feedback, positive or negative. From such feedback we can push our clients forward maintaining their brand awareness etc.

So his testimonial pretty much describes what we do for businesses ‘we make them stand out from the crowd’. He’s picked up several new clients already and knows he has the quality of marketing material to match the quality of his service.

So do you know of any businesses that need a new image?

Please put then in touch with us and we’ll make them more money through intelligent design and marketing communication.

On another note, if you want to get fit for this winters skiing or  fit for a special occasion such as a wedding, you should contact Andrew on: 07939 972 365



Filed under: Branding, Design, marketing, QR Codes, Typography

Tesco Virtual Supermarket – Using QR Codes to completely change the market

Tesco homeplus's virtual grocery store in a south korea subway station

Tesco homeplus's virtual grocery store in a south korea subway station

This is a complete game changer. You have to understand that South Korea is ahead of Europe on take up of smartphones. The percentage of passengers with the right equipment and the understanding to use it correctly makes this workable. For this to work with the success experienced in South Korea it would take our mobile market to mature in my opinion.

image of a shoppers adding items to their online cart by taking a picture of the corresponding QR code

shoppers add items to their online cart by taking a picture of the corresponding QR code

The campaign was designed by the seoul branch of advertising agency cheil for tesco homeplus supermarket and created virtual grocery stores in south korean subway stations. Users shop by scanning QR codes on their smartphones. So no rent, you can open in new location with ease and even focus to your market, say putting baby supplies on a poster outside a nursery, or health foods outside a gym etc.
A large, wall-length billboard was installed in the station, designed to look like a series of supermarket shelves, displaying images, prices and a QR code. Purchasers scan the code of any product they would like, thereby adding it to their online shopping cart. after the web transaction is completed, the products are delivered to the user’s home within the day.

A shopper scanning a QR code

A shopper scanning a QR code

This convienience store (in every sense) makes productive use of commuters’ waiting time although in rush hour it could be an issue! It also saves them having to go to the supermarket. But most importantly for Tesco it’s a great way to convert customers from your competition. If they can use their waiting time to shop with you, they’re not shopping with your competition. The little film below explains the project. It’s a bit corporate but the key facts are impressive. Due to the lack of understanding of QR Codes within the UK’s general population, I feel it’s success would be limited but in the future I can see it having real benefits.

Would you use such a store? Would it be more convenient for you? Do you see the benefits or would it be too much hassle while waiting for a train? Let us know?

Filed under: Design, marketing, Posters, QR Codes, , ,

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