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The Basics of Business Card Design

21st December 2018

In the famous scene from American Psycho, Patrick Bateman places all his faith in a business card’s capacity to impress. Sitting opposite his great rival, Van Patten, the 1980s money man and secret serial killer passes over his latest card. “That’s bone,” he explains of its tasteful colouring. “And the lettering is something called Silian Rail.”

Van Patten, of course, has an answer. He passes around his own card. The crowd of men around them gasp. “Eggshell with Romalian type,” he gloats. Bateman is pushed one step closer to psychosis.

The scene, of course, is a satire – and we wouldn’t not contend, dear reader, that business card design is anywhere near as important, or that it should be as linked to your self-esteem, as the employees of Pierce & Pierce might believe.

On the other hand, satire works its magic only because it is related to reality … and the subtleties that make such a difference in that scene between one card and another can indeed matter.

Your business card is often the first impression a person will have of you and your business – and it’s pretty small. That means that the little things matter a great deal, so think carefully about how you go about designing that little rectangle of card.


  1. Choose Your Concept. This is critical. There isn’t a standard size for business cards – and the more creative your design, the more memorable you will be – but by the same token you need to avoid awkward orientations or shapes.
  2. Consider Paper Quality. Your business card is nothing if not a tactile object. By activating these senses, your card can provide a lasting impression. Think about embossing or watermarking – how can you give the card a physical identity?
  3. Pick a Colour Scheme. Colour is essential when it comes to design. You want to select hues which fit your brand identity. Of course, colour can convey feeling, too, so think about the mood you want to evoke before picking a pigment.
  4. Save Space. The legibility of a business card design is paramount. Keep all its elements short, concise and powerful. People need to be able to read your information at a glance.
  5. Don’t Neglect Content. Content is still king, even on business cards. However small its size, the card should deliver a message that sticks in the mind. Some business cards even have QR codes that send people directly to your website.


Just remember Bateman’s response to Van Patten: “Impressive. Very nice.” Now that’s a killer card.


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