Design Projects: Making Memorable Business Cards
Business cards are such a de facto part of the business world that people frequently overlook them as being an aspect of their marketing strategy. After all, most people see business cards as contact information for a client or potential client. However, with a little forethought, you can avoid the routine and make your cards different, as well as more useful to your clients.
By adding pertinent information on the flip side of the card, or by using a unique format like our tri-fold card shown in figure 1, you can add value to your business cards that makes them worth holding on to. In the case of our tri-fold card, the brochure-style format allows for a fairly comprehensive list of services and prices that's easily kept by the client. In this article, we'll show you a few design techniques you can use in PageMaker that will make your business cards more unique and possibly even useful for your clients.
Figure 1: By creating a tri-fold business card, Trella's clients not only have her contact information but also a handy list of her spa's services.
Not your Standard Cards
There are a number of design strategies you can use to encourage a client to hold on to your business card. Most of these ideas center on providing additional information that the client might find useful in combination with your contact information.
To demonstrate these ideas, we'll first go over some of the design possibilities you can use to create unique business cards, such as punch cards and marketing cards. Then we'll show you the thought process that went into creating the tri-fold card shown in figure 1, including using a template and working with graphics and text. Finally, we'll give you some tips for preparing business cards for print, whether you choose to print them yourself or to send them to a printer.
Punch cards. Restaurants, hair salons, and other service industry professions can benefit from using their business card as a punch card, especially if they rely on repeat business. Not only does your client retain your information, but she also has a hook that keeps her coming back to your business.
To transform your business card into a punch card, you can simply add punch markers and an explanation of the benefit on the front or back of the card, as shown in figure 2. In this case, we added punch icons on the back of the card. For positioning the punch icons, we made sure that punches wouldn't strike out the information on the front of the card. If you follow this same train of thought, you'll see that converting a standard business card into a ticket or coupon is also easy.
Another idea for service-oriented businesses is to make the back of the card a calendar that lists typical upcoming events. For example, a coffee house could promote events such as live bands, poetry readings, open mike nights, etc.
Figure 2: Turning a business card into a punch card is especially easy and useful for service provider businesses.
Promotional cards. Business cards don't have to be just for your specific contact information. You can also use them for promotional purposes. If you have a Web site, hotline, or other method of providing service, don't forget that you can use business cards as a means of marketing a service you provide. Figure 3 shows a business card released by the U.S. Postal Service that directs people to their hotline, where they can get more detailed information about postal rates and various services available from the post office.
Figure 3: You can use business cards as promotional tools for various services.
Brochure-style cards, You can maintain the compact format of a standard business card while including more information if you make folded business cards. This allows you to create mini-brochures of your products or services. In figure 4, you can see our layout for the tri-fold card shown in figure 1. This format gives us six panels to provide information to our clients. This is a great way to showcase lists of services or even pictures of various products your company might carry. We'll go over the thought process behind setting up this type of card for print.
Figure 4: The interior panel of a brochure card needs to be slightly smaller than the other panels.
Figuring Out the Dimensions
Business cards don't have to be the standard size of 2 x 3.5 inches. The dimensions of our tri-fold card will be 5.938 x 3.5 inches when trimmed. Why not an even 6 inches so that each panel is the standard 2 inches? For a tri-fold card, the section that's folding to the inside should be slightly smaller than the top and middle sections of the card. This way the two folds don't interfere with each other. This is more of an issue for odd numbered panels than if you were using an even number.
Using a template. Whether you're making cards that are more traditional or folding cards, you'll want to start with a template. You can either make one yourself with the help of guides and the Document Setup dialog box, or you can use one of PageMaker's business card templates. This and other business card templates are located in the Templates folder on your PageMaker application CD. (If you use the Windows version of PageMaker, you can access templates through the Template palette -- Window > Plug-in Palettes > Show Template Palette.)
Figure 5: PageMaker templates are set up for easy self-printing.
Another alternative is to obtain a template from your printer. (You can follow the template for a standard business card provided by www.printingforless.com. Templates from printers are generally more desirable because they contain information about bleeds and other printer specific conditions. It's a good idea to discuss the project thoroughly with your printer before using their template or creating one of your own.
No matter what you do, a template is just a starting point. For our brochure template, we used PageMaker's guides to set up our edges, bleeds and borders. For a folding card, be sure to leave a safe gutter on either side of the fold so that no text inadvertently gets caught up there. The machines that score and trim cards aren't perfect, so you don't want to create designs that have to be spot-on-perfect in order to look good.
Working with graphics. Since PageMaker isn't designed for graphic creation, you'll have to import any design elements that you've created in other applications like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. For our tri-fold card, we created the illustrations shown in figure 4 in Illustrator and then imported them into PageMaker. Because our graphics form the entire background of the card, we took the measurements from our PageMaker template and used them to create a precise graphic in Illustrator that drops perfectly into our PageMaker template. We also made sure that the bottom panel would be 1/16th of an inch thinner than the other two panels. Also, we only used CMYK colors in our design. In fact, this card only uses two colors: magenta and black.
Working with type. All the typographic aspects of card design can be done within PageMaker. The amount of content you put on a card is a challenge because it's a small space. Too much information in a small space tends to look cramped. Be sure that your content is truly relevant and not causing clutter. Because of the small space, it's also better to stay with a clean layout design and not try anything too avant-garde.
When choosing fonts, be careful not to use too many different faces on one project, as the design gets confusing. Also, it's important not to add color to small type as slight differences in the CMYK plates can result in misregistration and unreadable text. Make sure your text is a single color like black. However, rich black is also inappropriate for small type.
Tabs and leaders. The primary way to set type is to establish tabs and indents so that everything stays neatly lined up. In our case, we want to make a list of the spa's services. The best way to do this is with the Indents/Tabs dialog box. To set up tabs, choose Type > Indents/Tabs to open the Indents/Tabs dialog box. The indents immediately align with the width of your text box and you can move them inward as desired, as shown in figure 6.
Figure 6: Keep your layout simple when working in small spaces and make use of leaders to guide the eye.
For tabs, you simply click on the ruler to position a tab at a desired location. For the monetary amounts, we used right-align tabs -- we used left-align tabs to indicate positions where leaders should start. Because the list of services is so small, leaders guide the eye from the service to the correct price. Once you establish a tab stop, you can easily specify a leader by choosing the dot leader option from the Leader pop-up menu. It's important to use leaders instead of periods because lines of periods won't line up correctly if started from different starting points. (For more information on indents and tabs, see the article "Improving text positioning with the Indents/Tabs command" in this issue.)
Preparing your Cards for Print
Once you've finished your business card, be sure to print out a test and cut it out to see how it looks folded, if necessary, and to make sure there are no typos. If you don't find any problems, then you're ready to print your business cards. You can do this either in-house or at a printer.
If you send your cards to a printer, the steps for getting them ready vary depending on the printer you choose. They'll probably have a specific set of instructions for you to follow. However, there are several topics that are important for you to discuss with your printer. One of these is imposition. Imposition is the arrangement of pages or cards that will give you the most cards per page with the least paper waste. The PageMaker template shown in figure 5 is basically what an imposed page for an 8.5 x 11-inch document would look like. Some printers may give you imposition instructions while others will perform the imposition themselves.
You should also find out about trim and score marks and how your printer would like you to create them. You'll also want to ask your printer if they have your font or if you need to send it with your document. Most printers prefer PostScript fonts.
Drumming Up Business
Business cards can do more than just provide your contact information. You can also use them as marketing materials to help bring in more business. PageMaker has all you need to make this transition a success. In this article, we've given you an overview of some strategies you can use to make your cards unique and useful, and some tips to make card production go smoothly.
This story is taken from "Inside PageMaker" (Element K Journals).