Discovered in Germany, the first business card in history dates back to 1786. However, people have been using this useful item (or its prototype, to be exact) in the Ancient China as early as the 3rd century BC. Yes, a business card is a very old invention!
Over the time, a business card has become a vital element of corporate culture, standing for important ethical rules and traditions. For example, in some countries, a business card of the wrong size may be viewed as disrespectful and put a sudden end to an emerging partnership. With that said, before giving your card to a foreigner, make sure it’s designed properly.
- Tell me the size of your business card, and I’ll tell you where you’re from
- Conventional vs Creative
- How to make the right choice?
- A little creativity never hurt nobody
Tell me the size of your business card, and I’ll tell you where you’re from
When asking your print shop to make “standard” business cards, prepare that you might get not what you’ve expected. Business card dimensions vary from country to country. For better or worse, there is no one globally recognized format. It’s a good thing that you came across this article before getting a nasty surprise like the one in the image below. Continue reading to find out all the secrets of those tricky corporate designs!
Business card sizes and corporate culture
- The USA and Canada have similar approaches to etiquette. In these countries, business cards are usually 8.56 х 5.39 cm (3.5 x 2 inches). Unlike the Japanese, the Americans appreciate and encourage creativity in all its forms.
- In Europe, the standard business card size is 85 х 55 mm. While some European countries welcome variations in terms of size, others (Germany, for one) don’t tolerate any deviations.
- Japanese business cards are called “meishi” and have the dimensions of 91 х 55 mm. For the Japanese people, exchanging business contacts is a full-blown ritual, so be sure to stick to the local rules and avoid improvising.
- In Russia, as well as other CIS countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, etc.), you’ll mostly come across 90 х 50 mm business cards. Such dimensions allow to minimize the production costs.
When creating a business card, it’s important to pay attention to the following parameters:
- To look good in print, your design should have the minimum resolution of 300 DPI/PPI.
- If you’re working in a graphics editor (e.g., Photoshop), use a special calculator to determine the dots-per-inch/pixels-per-inch for the given width and height in cm or mm.
- Don’t forget about the bleed area. It’s an extra space that goes beyond the finished edges of your card and will be trimmed off during printing. The width of the bleeds can vary from 3 to 5 mm.
Conventional vs Creative
Standard business card
The internationally accepted size of a business card is 85.6 х 53.98 mm (or 85 х 55 mm). Like bank cards, such business cards fit perfectly into most wallets and business card holders.
Big-size business card
Big-size (89 x 64 mm) business cards are getting increasingly popular as they provide more space for information and creative graphic solutions. A large design gives you more freedom in arranging the information the way you want. Plus, it stands out among its classic counterparts.
How to make the right choice?
If you’ve been taken by the idea of creating an unconventional business card, don’t be too impatient to put your plans into life. Take the time to weigh all the pros and cons of this step because it will have a significant effect on your entire branding.
- The main thing to understand is that creating a big-size business card is rather risky. If your business card fails to fit in the recipient’s wallet or special holder, this may cause confusion or even indignation (and justly so). It will be a shame to start an acquaintance on the wrong note.
- A standard-size business card is easier to hold and store.
- Most print shops only make cards of commonly used sizes. You’ll have trouble finding a printer who will agree to make custom-size business cards for your needs.
- Custom-size business cards will cost you more. If you’re on a tight budget, this may become a serious obstacle on your way to crafting a non-typical design.
If you’re adamant about having business cards that would have an unconventional form, size or material, making a small batch of those is a great trade-off. You can use such custom cards on special occasions, when you’re sure that your partners or customers will appreciate the gesture. However, in everyday life, we recommend that you stick with standard designs. It’s a low-cost and versatile solution for every situation.
A little creativity never hurt nobody
Now let’s get practical. How do you make your business card stand out? You’re probably struggling for ideas. Honestly, we don’t blame you: crafting a truly memorable card is tough!
Let’s take a look at some worthy ideas that have gained the trust of companies and entrepreneurs. There is nothing bad or shameful about learning from others. On the contrary, it’s a good way to create your own masterpiece that someday may inspire someone else!
What materials to use?
Plastic business cards have been around for a while. Compared to their paper counterparts, plastic cards retain colors better and serve longer. Also, a plastic business card looks stylish and edgy. Depending on your preferences, you can choose between a matt and glossy surface. If plastic goes well with your brand personality, why not use it?
Wood is a very particular material with its specific connotations, which makes it suitable for a limited number of companies. For example, wooden designs are good at emphasizing the eco quality of food and beverages, elegance of male beauty salons or authenticity of hand-made furniture.
Just like wood, metal is a “picky” material that refuses to serve just any company or brand. Metallic business cards are viewed as bold, virile, and strong. Industries where this kind of business cards will look appropriate include technology, electronics, sports, military, and the like.
While those were the top popular materials used for business cards, some companies have the audacity to go even further. So don’t get wide-eyed if someone gives you a business card made of rubber, fabric or stone. You probably won’t believe it but edible cards also exist!
What shape to choose?
The best thing about geometry-shaped business cards is variety. You can choose from multiple geometric figures, including a rectangle, square, circle, diamond, triangle, polygon, etc. Naturally, the first two are the top popular shapes used by companies. Most square-shaped business cards have the dimensions of 2.5” x 2.5”. If you think that a square and rectangle design is too boring, you can distinguish yours by rounding its corners. Anyway, before making the final choice, take the time to read about the psychological connotations of each geometric figure. This will help make the right impression on your partners and clients.
Your business card can have the form of any object that has a symbolic meaning for your company or is directly related to what you do. It can be literally anything: a flower, hand, letter, book, candle, etc. If your design features small protruding details, be sure to use durable materials to prevent any parts of your artwork from tearing off.
Have you ever been given a business card that can be assembled into a car, plane, piano, tree or any other object? It’s a small gift that is impossible to forget! Urging another person to interact with your card is a playful and unobtrusive way to distinguish your brand and make a lasting impression.
If you’re unsure about experimenting with unusual forms and shapes but still aim for a “wow” effect, consider creating an embossed business card. You can add a 3D feel to your logo, company name, corporate pattern, or any other part of your design. Embossing can be made on any material, whether it’s paper, plastic or metal. Embossing will become a striking addition to your design, making it look sophisticated (not to forget about the incredible tactile experience!).
More exciting features
- Motivation business cards
Motivation business cards are a great choice for fitness instructors, nutritionists, hair stylists, plastic surgeons, and other specialists committed to helping people become healthier and more attractive. By interacting with such a card, a person sees a wonderful transformation. Such a trick can have a stunning effect on how your potential clients perceive you as a professional, encouraging them to trust your expertise.
- Entertaining business cards
Along with introducing your project, this type of a business card aims to entertain the person and make them smile. Feel free to use funny images, masks, word play, detachable parts, and the like. The main thing is to evoke positive emotions and make the person show your card to others (hello free advertising!).
- Practical business cards
Our list would be incomplete without practical business cards. In addition to its informative function, such a card can also perform some useful function. Just look at the amazing tiny grate in the image above! There are other clever designs that can be used as calendars, pen holders, etc. It’s a great way to showcase to your potential partners and clients that your brand can make their lives easier!
In pursuit of uniqueness and creativity, one thing to remember is that your business card is not a souvenir or toy, but a carrier of important information about you and your company. With that said, make sure your business card provides all the necessary information that is readable and easy-to-perceive. From there, you can start building up your design with interesting features.
In addition to being a vital part of your corporate branding, a business card is also an important communication bridge in the business world. Having a smart business card that meets the international standards and goes in line with your industry is an invaluable asset. It characterizes you as a reliable and competent professional that knows how to handle a company or project. Now that you realize the true power of this small slip of paper, we hope that you’ll approach the creation of your business card with the appropriate diligence and responsibility.