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Choosing the right kind of Business Card for your Business

It used to be the case that a business card was a simple affair: a piece of white card with the pertinent details printed in simple typography. They were functional, rather than intrinsically beautiful - although some of the letterpress effects are highly sought after to this day; check out our section on Letterpress business cards below! Mostly, it didn’t matter whether you were an accountant or a gardener – your business card would look the same.

Fast forward to the modern era and we’re in an entirely different place. With a whole world of paper stock choices, print finish options, coatings and dies available, it can be totally overwhelming trying to find the right kind of card that will represent your business to customers, and convey the impression you’d like them to take away.

Of course, one of the primary considerations is often cost, and you may find that your budget dictates the options available to you, but even with tight constraints in the spend, there are still a range of choices. It can be overwhelming, and difficult to know where to start!

Don’t worry, as there’s a good way to approach choosing the right card for your business. Check out our list below where we’ve gathered together five different types of card and finish to illustrate how different approaches suit different types of business.

18pt Brown kraft business cards

Brown Kraft Business Cards

  • Characteristics: Recycled paper stock appearance, with a dull, matt finish. 15-18pt thickness
  • Cost range: $
  • Ideal for: Small businesses, arts + crafts, students

These cards are rustic and feel like an ecologically sound choice in the hand. They convey a sense of respect for the environment, and while low-cost, they don’t feel cheap thanks to the generous thickness. They’re not a premium choice, but for small businesses that have an artisanal focus, gardeners, students and arts + crafts based artists, they’re a lovely choice that will add an air of authenticity and dependability. One of the core characteristics of this kind of card is that it only works really well with black ink, but this restriction can help focus the design and ensure the core details are conveyed.

Premium blck business card with gold foil

Premium Black Business Cards

  • Characteristics: From uncoated, to a smooth, suede-like rich feel. 16-28pt thickness
  • Cost range: $$$
  • Ideal for: Larger businesses, sophisticated individuals and consultants, high-end designers and luxury brands

These cards are akin to a premium sports car: you know instantly that you hold one, you’ve got a high-quality, thick-and-sturdy, high-end product. As a result, you’ll find them popular with higher-end designers and luxury brands, but they also work equally well for bespoke business, sophisticated consultants (think in terms of your favorite personal shopper), art dealer or consultant. They also work well for larger businesses that have a luxury brand, especially as these cards are the best choice for foil printing.

One color letterpress business card

Letterpress Business Cards

  • Characteristics: Soft and thick, wonderfully tactile with visible impressions that catch light and cast shadows. 20-40pt thickness
  • Cost range: $$$
  • Ideal for: Boutique stores, artists and graphic designers

Letterpress has come right back into vogue in the past ten years or so. Why? Because letterpress produces such a tactile result that feels gorgeous in the hand, bringing an element of three dimensionality to the print that you can’t easily achieve in other ways. The key to a good letterpress card is the choice of card stock to be used; generally a nice thick card will produce the best results. Because it has an element of arts + crafts feel about it, these kind of cards are perfect for businesses that provide a more personal, individual service that’s bespoke. Think in terms of boutique stores, artists and graphic designers. In fact, designers love letterpress cards because they open up such a range of creative options – they’re an especially good choice for foil printing, and pantone spot color work.

Silk matte business card

Silk Business Cards

  • Characteristics: Strong, sturdy with a silky smooth finish reminiscent of Apple’s packaging. 16pt thickness
  • Cost range: $$
  • Ideal for: Designers, small and large businesses, students

Silk business cards are the modern equivalent of the catch-all standard card. A great all-purpose card, you can’t go far wrong by opting for these sturdy card that have a silky smooth finish. Because they’re so versatile, you’ll find them in use across almost every kind of business, whether large or small, boutique or mass-market. As the workhorse of the business card world, silk cards are a good choice for both special effects such as foil printing, and regular process full color print. It’s worth saying that just because they’re a standard card, that doesn’t mean the creativity is limited. It’s perfectly possible to make a memorable impression while basing your design around this standard.

Duplex business cards with wood and white backing

Duplex Business Cards

  • Characteristics: Extremely rigid, formed from two pieces of stock bonded together. 28-38pt thickness
  • Cost range: $$$$
  • Ideal for: Creative industries, artists, investment firms, high-end technology-based businesses

Extremely popular in Europe, these cards convey the ultimate in high-end luxury as they’re built up from two pieces of card stock bonded together. This creates a card that can be almost 40pt thick, and has instant gravitas. Hand out some of these and your customers will know you mean business! A wonderful characteristic of duplex cards is that the two faces don’t have to be the same color, allowing the designer to exercise some serious creative muscle in producing two distinct sides. Equally at home in high-worth investment firms and across the creative industries, if you’ve got a business that wants to portray quality, sturdiness and reliability, this is a fantastic choice!

About the Author
Sam Hampton-Smith image

Sam is a designer who lives and works in Scotland. He’s worked in the field for twenty years, producing everything from business cards to magazines, books and websites. When he isn’t designing, Sam writes regularly for a range of magazines, and writes the occasional book, as well as contributing to other publications. You can follow Sam on twitter at @samhs.