12 signs your business cards stink

Business cards are a massive part of businesses’ brand identity, but it’s amazing how many bad ones I run across. Of course, I’m probably a little biased since we design business cards, but many people have handed me their card, and then I immediately have to make my best effort to hide my horror at just how bad they are.

A bad business card will turn people off, which means you’ve wasted the money it took to print them. But, how can you tell if your business card is great or if it stinks?

Here are 12 signs your business card stinks.

1. They look like you printed them at home 

Remember those print-them-yourself business card sheets where you could print ten to a sheet, tear them apart at the perforations, then pass them out at a networking event? Then, you would see everyone else’s cards and go home embarrassed, vowing never to print your cards yourself again.

Well, that happened to Tim, and I’ve seen those cards. He was right to be embarrassed. Please don’t print your business cards at home on your own. It’s not the year 2000. There’s no reason to do that.

2. They look like you printed them at an office supply store

A slight step up but still lacking in professionalism is having your cards printed at an office supply store. I’m not going to point any fingers, but if you get your business cards from somewhere that’s a big national chain and the first part of the name is “Office,” then you deserve to be embarrassed.

Sure, you can still make fun of Tim or anyone else who printed their cards at home, but that’s it. Everyone else gets to make fun of you.

3. They’re flimsy feeling

In general, the thicker a business card is, the better. You can go to an extreme and even get one made of metal, and depending on your business, that can be pretty cool. But, don’t get a thin, flimsy card.

If I’ve blown my nose on tissue paper that was sturdier than your business card, your paper is too cheap, and I’m going to assume you don’t value quality, so I won’t want to do business with you.

4. They have too much information

Let’s switch to what’s actually on the card. If you’ve crammed too many pieces of information on your business card, I get turned off pretty quickly. Listen, I don’t need to know your fax number. In fact, I’m not even sure why you still have a fax number.

5. They don’t have enough information 

Ever been handed a business card, and the person’s email address wasn’t on it? Or maybe they didn’t even have their name on there because everyone at the business shared the same business card?

Listen, I know they’re called “business cards,” but they’re still for a person. You need basic contact information like name, title, phone number, email address, and your company’s name.

6. I can’t tell what you do

If I can’t tell what you do and what industry you’re in by looking at your business card, you’ve made a huge mistake. Hopefully, your business card reflects the awesome branding you’ve already invested in. It should be pretty obvious at a glance what you do.

7. There’s not enough white space

Time to start talking about design. Good design is a huge part of good business cards, and bad design makes for a bad business card.

Making good use of white space on your card makes it easier to read. If you try to cram too much on there or just crowd it too close together, it makes it more challenging to read, and people aren’t going to bother reading or keeping it.

8. They use hard-to-read fonts

The fonts you choose for your brand and specifically your business card make a huge difference! They need to be visually appealing, match the rest of your brand, and be easy to read at the smaller size usually printed on business cards. If your fonts are too hard to read, people aren’t going to keep your card.

9. They use a cluttered, eye-assaulting design 

With the tools available now, anyone can design business cards, but that doesn’t mean everyone should design business cards. If you’re not a professional, you may end up creating a cluttered design that makes people sad just by looking at it. Be cautious that you don’t create a chaotic business card that makes people want to set it on fire.

10. They use blue hyperlinks

Your business card isn’t the internet, people. Yes, links on websites are traditionally blue. That doesn’t mean they should be blue on your business card.

If your style guide has a specific color of blue and you want to use that for hyperlinks on your card, more power to you. However, if you don’t usually use blue as part of your brand, don’t try to force it on any website addresses and email addresses on your business card.

11. People don’t say, “I like your card!”

I’m not saying every single person should say, “I like your card!” but if nobody ever says it, that’s a bad thing. You should occasionally—or even frequently—hear people compliment your business card.

12. People give you looks of pity or horror

Even worse, if you hand people your business card only to have them give you a look of either pity or horror, and maybe even hand your card back, it’s time to get new business cards.

Great-looking business cards are essential for every organization and professional. A well-designed, professional business card will reflect well on you, and one that stinks will reflect poorly. If you’re worried that your business card stinks, we’d be happy to see if we can help!

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