Your business card is an advertising 'foot soldier' - long after you leave, your company logo and (more importantly) your contact information make you available to potential clients, customers and networking opportunities. Unfortunately, a large percentage of business cards end up in trash cans – everyone gets a card, but only a small percentage keep it. This wasted potential can be attributed to the logo design, the card design or the way the card was delivered.
I can't help anyone with handing out their print materials, but I do help with the design aspects that make your business card stand out. This starts with a logo that pops and copy that makes sense in a small space. Now to the details...
While the traditional idea of a business card is a horizontal layout, a vertical aspect ratio can be just as effective, in most cases. Vertical layouts are generally not practical for information-heavy cards – company name and contact information is about all that can fit. A vertical layout business cards showcases your logo nicely at the top or middle, making for a quite artistic looking card. Many people overlook the back of their cards, which is perfect for a bit more info or some tastefully designed graphics.
Unlike larger print items, the cost of printing both sides of a business is nominal. Most print shops can produce a run as a 'working turn' - technique where a printed side is set up as a combination of back and front, and the sheet is flipped over once that run is complete.
Horizontal is the 'gold standard' business card layout because more information can fit inside these margins. A typical design is the logo on the left with contact info on the right side.
When it comes to placing information, many clients want as much as humanly possible in a tiny space. These card designs have a higher discard rate simply because the design looks too busy. I always suggest keeping content to a minimum - too much information means a very small font size, which translates into difficult-to-read.
While I'm mentioning information on the card, best practice is to always include a Website address and e-mail address. Personal accounts, such as gmail, yahoo, comcast, etc. should never be used on a business card as they scream "I use a free e-mail service because I'm not legit (licensed/certified)." Some clients ask me to use their 'free' e-mail address to avoid spammers. Well, most e-mail addresses are scraped by bots from 'live' links placed on Websites, not from foraging through trash cans for business cards.
If your logo is a full color design, often required for illustrative logo treatments – you may be tempted to 'go to town' on your business card design. "I have to pay for full-color printing, so I should take advantage of this opportunity!' Makes sense in an accounting department but can cause your business card design to suffer drastically. Your business card is supposed to accent your logo, not overwhelm it, so let your logo 'do the talking.'