Business Management

Great Ideas for Designing Better Business Cards

Business cards offer more than just your phone number; they tell your clients who you are as much as where you are.

Think of your business card as a tiny billboard. It attracts attention and sells you and your services to potential clients everyday. To do these things well, it needs to be carefully designed and made, but should also stay within your budget.


All business cards need to include your name, the salon name, the complete address, and the phone number with the correct area code. It’s important to include the area code and state because you never know where your card will end up.

If you work in Los Angeles or New York City, you can get away with leaving out the state; most people will know where you mean. But if your business is in Lebanon, Kan., Hollywood, Fla., or Black Earth, Wis., the state is a vital part of the address.

Beware of too much information, however. If you list every service you offer, your card will become crowded and hard to read. Leave space around information so that it stands out and organize it neatly so it’s easy to read and understand. Keep your name near the name of the business, so that clients associate one with the other. If you’re the owner or manager, say so. Otherwise, you may want to use words like “nail technician” or pedicurist” to let clients know what you do. If you want to include more information, have it printed on the back or use a folded card format, which gives you four times as much room. These options are more expensive than single-sided cards, but they allow you space to list information without clutter. Services, business hours, maps, and appointment reminders are all useful information that you can put in this extra space.


The design of your business card should reflect the feel of your workplace. Like an ad in the newspaper or the yellow pages, your business card should appeal to the people you want to sell your services to, so you need to think about what they want to see. For instance, young urban career women will not be interested in the same thing that attracts wealthy matrons or businessmen. Tailor your business card the same way you would tailor your salon decor. The design of the card, including the color, typeface, graphics, and layout will get your message across.

A good business card design must have quality artwork or photography and high-quality typesetting without broken lines or letters. Misspellings and typographical errors must be avoided. The completed card should be unique to you in style or design, while being simple enough to read easily.

Information such as addresses and phone numbers should be arranged consistently. If you are aligning all the type on the left, flush with that edge, too. If you choose to center some information blocks, the rest should be centered as well. Don’t mix a lot of type styles or sizes: Two styles in no more than three sizes is usually the limit for read ability. Remember that these are only guidelines. If you discover a design that works better by breaking rules, go ahead. Successful designs evoke a feeling, and feelings cannot be strictly contained by rules.

Color is very important because it makes your card stand out. You can add color with graphic elements or colored paper, as well as with colored type. One color ink, other than black, on a colored paper can look very striking, while keeping your cost down. A small splash of color on an otherwise plain card, like a color graphic with black print, is a low-cost alternative for high-impact cards. Black and white can also be dramatic when used properly, but you need to think in terms of simple high contrast when you design in black and white. If a black and white design is too delicate or complicated, it can be boring or hard to look at.

If you have trouble designing a card, get a little help from the print shop. Instant printers have design books from vendors that include sample cards as well as stock graphics, borders, ink colors, and type styles. Cindy Williams, customer service consultant at Postal Instant Press (PIP) in Hermosa Beach, Calif., suggests looking over the samples until you find something you like, then discussing changes to personalize it. You can look at business cards from clients, co-workers, and friends for ideas, also.

Come up with something unique. An elegant hand may be the first thing you think of putting on your card, but a lot of other nail technicians have thought of that, too. An artist’s palette or a bottle of nail polish might be more eye catching and informative. Even if you use stock art, do something with it that makes it your own.

Art and design students at local colleges and design schools are often willing to do illustrations and help with design for a very low fees. If you’re having trouble getting just what you want, try this alternative. Have a good idea of the concept you want to convey and the information you need to showcase when you discuss art with a freelance artist.

If you are creating a business card as part of a total image package, you may wish to hire a graphic designer to carry the theme through your other stationery, logos, etc. These professionals know what images appeal to which groups and how to design for maximum impact. They can be expensive, but you usually get two or three design choices tailored especially for you.

Glen Michele, owner of Image communication in Torrance, Calif., says you should be able to get a basic two-design package for about $300. Producing the camera-ready artwork (the original material that will be photographed to make the printing plate) will cost another $150, and high-quality printing should cost around $100 for 1,000 cards.

All camera-ready art should be designed to look good whether it is reproduced in color or black and white, and you should have a chance to make small changes before you accept delivery.

Business cards also are available through mail-order companies for very low prices, but your design choices may be limited and used by a lot of other people. If you order enough cards, you can get a similar price break yourself from any reputable printer.

Artists, designers, and printers can provide samples and preliminary sketches or mock-ups of your card. Once you have samples or design mock-ups, you’ll have a chance to test market designs by showing them to clients and friends for their reaction. The design they prefer, even if it’s not your favorite, should receive your strongest consideration. What your present clients like, future clients wil like, too.


Mail order printing companies can offer low prices because they print master runs, which allows you to set up a card that will be printed and reprinted many times with a few variations. If your business is large enough for the price to be worthwhile, you might consider having a master run printed, with just the name, address, phone number, or other information changed, while the basic design remains the same. This type of service usually starts at $10,000, and the printer will keep your master plate for future printings. After the initial run, you will pay a low fee for each subsequent printing.

If you don’t have $10,000, instant printers, like PIP, Minuteman Press, and Kinko’s Copy Centers, offer card printing services starting as low as $25 for 500 cards. Graphics, additional text, special effects, and colored inks all cost extra.

When dealing with an instant printer, you order a la carte. Each little extra costs extra. A corporate printer will charge you a flat fee based on the camera-ready art, you will have to show it to obtain a quote from each printer you talk to.

At PIP and other instant printers, prices are based on card stock (the paper), number of colors, and number of cards to be printed. The basic card with black ink starts around $25 for 500. With colored ink in only one shade, the same 500 cards cost about $30. One color plus black ink is $50, and two different colored inks start at about $60. An additional or custom color, including metallics, costs $60 with a 500 card minimum.

Some extras are very pricey, while others are amazingly cheap and can make your card look terrific. Having your card printed vertically carries a one-time charge of $10. Adding art, borders, and extra lines of text starts at a flat fee of $2. For stock special effects like shadowed, blocked, curved, and three dimensional text, add $30. Undersized, oversized, and unusually shaped cards will cost an additional $25, but it makes your card stand out in a whole new way.

Die-embossing is a very elegant, sculptured effect with raised letters or logos. It is an expensive technique, starting around $75, depending on the area to be embossed, and it requires a special plate to raise the surface of the card stock and mold it into the desired shape. Other embossing techniques also are available, such as foil embossing where type or graphic elements are raised slightly and overprinted in a special metallic finish. Foil embossing prices usually start around $110 for 500 cards in basic black. Embossed cards also can include flat printing and second colors as well, for a mix of textures.

Paper comes in varying textures, colors, and thicknesses that can enhance the impact of your card without breaking your budget. Basic card stock paper is smooth, white, and a little helftier than a standard index card. The thickness of the paper is referred to as its weight and is measured in pounds. Standard card stock is 60 to 80 lbs. At many instant printshops, heavier paper in a variety of colors and textures is available for only a few dollars difference in price for the same number of cards. Extra heavy stock will stand up to more abuse than lighter stock.

If you choose to use something other than the basic bargain white card stock, you usually have a choice of colors for no additional cost. Be careful that the paper you choose doesn’t overpower your design; a delicate design should not be printed on a heavily textured paper and ink should be complemented, not drowned, by the color of the card stock.

As an alternative to paper stock, you may want to use plastic, magnets, or even nail files as the base for your business card. All of these options require going to a specialty printer for a quote. You will have to provide all your own camera-ready art with a text. You’ll also need to be aware of any drawbacks such as glare on plastics, limited space, readability, and print quality before you submit a design.

Once you’ve made your decision, shop around for the best price. Costs can vary widely with different printers and you may be able to find special offers, like a certain color of ink or paper at a reduced price on specified days of the week. After you place your order, you can expect to see the first card in two to seven days.

The more complicated your business card is, the more likely it is that something may go wrong during the printing process. To avoid unpleasant surprises, you can request a sample of the card before the entire order is printed. This will add a few days to the process and will cost about $10, but it will be worth it if you can fix a flaw before you pay for 500 copies of it.

With your new business cards in hand, you’re ready to put your private billboard into purses and pockets all over town---or even all over the world.

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