How to Choose Photos, Logos and Graphics for Your Business Cards
by Diana Ratliff
One of the most critical decisions you'll make as you design your card is whether or not to add non-text elements such as a photo, your logo or additional clipart or graphics. How do you decide whether words or pictures are more effective use of the limited space on a business card?
The first step is to decide how your business cards will be used
On the other hand, if you're designing business cards that will primarily be given to existing customers or to colleagues, you don't need to waste precious space telling them what you do. They already know. Instead, they're probably more interested in expanded contact information (maybe after-hours customer support), additional store locations or complementary products.
So - photos, logos and graphics need to be chosen according to the response you want from the typical person who'll receive your card. Does the photo, logo or graphic you have in mind help or hinder the purpose of your card? Will it be worth the space that it consumes on the card?
Here are some factors to consider about photos, logos, clipart and colorful backgrounds in general.
The Advantages of Photos:
1) Build trust
Photos ("headshots") are typically included on business cards in "relationship" businesses such as real estate, counseling and public speaking. They give prospects a non-threatening way to begin getting acquainted with you, which is especially helpful if you're in a business that requires a great deal of trust or confidentiality.
2) Name/Face recognition
Additionally, a business card with your photo on it will help a new contact find you in a meeting. If you often make initial contact with someone on the phone or via email, sending them a card with your photo on it before you meet in person is a thoughtful gesture. A business card with a photo is also helpful if you have a unisex name (such as "Pat" or "Chris") or a name that would be completely unfamiliar to the recipient.
3) Add color and interest to an otherwise boring card.
And don't forget that a photo can be more than a headshot; you can show how your product/service works, or give a "before-and-after" illustration.
The Disadvantages of Photos:
1) It's human nature to pre-judge
Unfortunately, people make judgments based on the way we look. Your race, gender, age, attire and even the expression on your face may influence someone's choice to contact you. Perhaps negatively. It's human nature to judge other people, be it consciously or subconsciously.
2) Your photo "dates" you
Your hairdo, your clothing, those doggoned wrinkles (or lack thereof) ... If you don't make new cards often, with updated photos, you can actually hurt your business.
Old photo = Cards not given out very often = Not much demand for your business = Maybe they ought to go elsewhere.
3) Photography is expensive
If you plan to include your picture, don't skimp on this one. The quality of the photograph can make or break your design no matter how trustworthy or attractive you look. Check your local yellow pages for professional photography services and determine which offers the best value.
Logos and Other Graphics
A professionally designed logo adds distinction, eye appeal, and can effectively "make" or "break" an otherwise ho-hum business card. A good logo helps a customer both relate to your business and to build trust. Generic clipart may actually hurt your business. Prospects might wonder why you can't afford quality artwork and may question if you're in business for the long haul.
Meaningless graphics (such as monogrammed initials) may add distinction to your card, but they don't convey information or give prospects a reason to call you. Which would be more important to you -- fluff or valuable information?
Colorful Backgrounds and Business Card Templates
With the advent of online business card design services that allow you to create business cards from brilliant full-color templates, some of the factors discussed above are certainly relevant. Adding color is probably the single most effective way to add appeal to your card, but you don't want the text and the background to compete with each other. Learn more about how colors affect human emotions
Balance is the key. Choose a template with a smaller or less complex image when you have a lot of words to include on your card. When you can safely use a larger or more colorful image without reducing legibility, do that instead.
By following these guidelines you will be well on your way to creating a business card that not only looks good, but fullfills it's purpose of effectively advertising your company.
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