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25 Tips To Design Your Business Card And Make It Work For You

25 Tips To Design Your Business Card And Make It Work For You

Business cards are they key to presenting yourself in a good light, impressing important people and getting in contact with those who will further your career. If you think of designing your first business cards soon, or changing the design of those you already have, here are 25 tips to keep in mind.

1. Understand the purpose of the card

Whatever you do, the business card serves as a connection between your company and your customers. Anything beside that is an extra and should be approached as such. Make sure the main information is correct and well designed before jumping to colors and materials.

2. Clearly distinguish your personal taste from your brand

I may love pink flowers, but they have nothing to do with my writing style or consulting strategy. It might seem easy when you think about it, but you’d be surprised to see how much we lean towards what we naturally like and not what represents our company.

3. Do your research to avoid being the same as everyone in your field

Don’t be afraid of doing a little research before deciding on the design. Don’t think it will influence you to copy someone’s idea. You will be able to spot any trends going on in your field and this will prevent you from doing what everyone else is doing with their cards. Also, it might help you decide on things you want to include or elements that don’t fit into your vision.

4. Adjust the tone of the business card to the tone of your company

If what you do is funny or entertaining, then no one is expecting a boring card from you, unless you write on the back “This is so boring! Come see how we do fun!”. If you create things, then a handmade card would describe your work more than any words can. If professionalism is the core of you business, then go professional all the way.

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5. Put emphasis on the aspect you need the most currently

What is the most important thing regarding your business right now? Did you do a rebrand lately? Did you get upgraded from a specialist to CEO? Is there a new service you started to provide lately? Are there new branches added to the company or new shops opened? Maybe you changed your phone number or email. Or you really need to associate your name to the company. Think about what’s more important and make sure it’s reflected on the card.

6. Consider designing a series of cards

Think about muliple designs or colors, maybe a series with a story developing so they are collectable and exciting to receive. Pieces of a puzzle would also be a nice idea. For a more classic approach, treat the cards as your portable mini portfolio.

7. Don’t get quality and luxury mistaken

Quality is always luxury but luxury is not always quality. Think carefully when you go for fancy embosses or gold foils. If the company you run is about raw materials or living a meaningful life, then lean towards quality with minimal and clean cards. Unless you are 100% aware that everything in your card is in tune with your company’s policies and mission, don’t risk it.

8. Pay special attention to your logo

You can emphasize the company’s logo by placing it on the whole side of the card. This will help it being recognized and will serve as a cohesive visual for the business cards of other people working in your company. The more people see a logo, the faster they will recognize it (being designed well helps too).

9. Make sure to use the logo as the company name

If the logo of the company is the name of the company or includes it, make sure to use that and not the name in a random font. That way the connection to the brand is stronger. Imagine a Google card, with the name Google written in another font and in black. It would be harder (or maybe impossible) to connect it to the giant.

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10. Match the card to the company brand

If you are using colors, make sure they are the exact code of what is used in the rest of the branding material. Also, the overall style should reflect the same one used in every online presence of your company or work.

11. Test the printing quality

Before you invest in the final result, do a test to check the quality of the printing. Sometimes there’s too much black or dullness. You want to make sure things look sharp and clean. It’s a good time to double-check the colors too. Finally, test the ink to understand if it smudges easily or fades in sunlight, disappears under water or from rubbing.

12. Don’t use the same business card for multiple companies

It is very difficult to digest the information when two or more companies are in the same card, unless you want to show your relation to the companies. In such case, use only your name and an email or phone number, along with the companies’ logos. Spare further details to prevent the card from looking like a yellow page.

13. Use the back of the card

Even if you want a single side business card, you can take advantage of the back to put your signature or a handwritten note. A helpful idea is to encourage people to write something about you or how you met by having a couple of lines ready for them to fill in or a specific phrase like “How we met”.

14. Pick the right font

The font of your choice should be legible and neutral enough. Nothing sketchy or tacky should be in your card (unless that is your purpose). You can use 2-3 different sizes and strokes to create hierarchy in the text. Also make sure the numbers are not overlapping each other and are legible.

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15. Take advantage of the space

Don’t try to fill in the space, but see it as a tool to showcase the information. White serves as a great canvas, but any other solid color or subtle background can help enhance the text.

16. Choose materials wisely

Use the highest material and printing quality you can afford, but be aware of super bulky cards or ones that can easily be worn out. Use recycled paper if your company is well into the environmental industry. But don’t overdo it only to show that you are environment friendly or you’ll be mistaken for a recycling company. Same logic goes for wood, metal, glass, plastic or any other innovative material.

17. Consider the power of a hashtag

If you are on several social media, make sure to use the same hashtag on all of them. Including only one hashtag in the card will be much more effective and easier to remember than four different ones.

18. Use your work

If you do something innovative or a very specific service, you can incorporate a photography or illustration of what you do. Also, if your style is coherent and you’re famous for a specific thing, showcase that on all cards. Words can be used too, as long as you can express what you do in a couple of short sentences.

19. Use your own photo

There’s nothing wrong with putting your own photo on the card, as long as it brings something extra to the information and matches the theme of your work. It’s a good move particularly when you attend meetings and conferences or travel on a regular basis.

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20. Make it memorable

Whatever you do, you will want to make your business card memorable by including an extra something with it or telling a short significant story when you introduce your business. Stories and a nice attitude are much more likely to be remembered.

21. Don’t fall into the technology trap

Use technology only if it is accessible by your target audience. As a web design company you can use QR codes in your card, but as a florist you might not need it. The less you distance yourself from the audience, the more likely they will stick with you.

22. Approach your business from the future

What is one single thing you want people to immediately associate you with? Take a look at this meaningful poster of Michael Jackson. Use what you think is the most unique or strong feature of the company and highlight that. Just make sure it is something you already have and not what you think you do or wish to have some day.

23. Experiment with shape

Even if you belong to a non-creative industry, you might want to distance yourself from the competition by going with a non-classic shape. Squares, small rectangles and even circles are great to catch attention, but keep it small enough to fit into people’s pockets or cardholders. You might consider a foldable design too.

24. Choose objects that your company is directly connected to

Far away is the era of printing your logo on every commercial object available. Instead, choose a relevant everyday use object and transform it into your business card. Make sure the connection is direct and your company is specialized in that object/theme/industry.

25. Be creative all the way

If you want to be creative with your business card, make sure it’s so creative that everyone gets it and causes no confusion. Run a little test with people around you. Even if only one person doesn’t get it, you should not consider going with that idea, unless you’re aiming to reach a specific audience. Here’s a list of 30 creative business cards to understand what you have to compete with.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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