Wednesday, 10 April 2013

How to differentiate quality businesses cards from bad business cards

Business cards are often the first means in which you judge a business. Have you ever received a card you automatically recoiled from, coming to the instant conclusion you would never do business with that organisation? Let’s make sure the same thing never happens to you. Here are the main differences between high quality and poor quality business cards:

Thickness: This is an instant tell tale about the quality of a business. Thin and flimsy business cards show you a business either didn’t have the money for good cards, or didn’t have the proper sense to get cards that look professional. In Australia, the standard thickness of a good business card is 310gsm. This card feels pretty thick in your hands. A4 photocopy paper is usually around 80gsm, so a 310gsm business card is pretty sturdy in comparison. It’s not easy to crease, tear, or bend. The next standard level up in thickness is 420gsm. This type of business card is very solid. You can get a range of different thicknesses in between these two sizes.

A business card's thickness shows people you care about quality.

Lamination: If you prefer a laminated card, matt or satin/silk lamination strengthens the card further and gives it a smooth feel to your fingers. It can also add a layer of prestige to your identity, but it does depend on your specific industry. You can even get glossy lamination if it’s the style you’d like to project. How do you tell if a business card has been laminated? Tear it! It’s so much harder to rip – you can see the extra layer of plastic holding its grip. Double laminated (front and back sides) is even stronger!

Recycled Paper: You wouldn’t laminate recycled paper business cards, as the feel is what is most important. Using recycled paper is an automatic sign of quality. It has a nice texture – it’s not too smooth, and the texture itself is a symbol of quality. In a world of smooth technologically advanced devices, having some texture on your business card can create a great first impression for your brand.

A business card made of recycled paper saves the trees you love.

Printing: Laser printing has duller colours when compared to offset printing because the ink doesn’t sink into the paper. You can easily tell printing from an old laser-printing machine just by touching the printed words – they stick out from the paper. Offset printed cards feel smooth to the touch, and their images have sharper, more vibrant colours. However, brand new state-of-the-art laser printers, like Forest Print’s new Fuji machines (much better than their less expensive Canon counterparts), can produce results very similar in quality to offset.

Having a double-sided business card shows people you are willing to invest more money in your business’s brand and image. They are often seen as being more professional, and provide more space to discuss your services, or insert additional information.

Within Offset printing there exists many different levels of quality. Some printing companies like Forest Print calibrate the colours on their offset machines on a daily basis, while others simply do not. The result is some will be able to give you the exact same colours you ordered, while others will fail. Consumers using a lower quality printing service will often experience the problem of ordering a second batch of business cards only to find the colours they receive on the new cards are different from those on the original batch!

Offset can produce the sharpest images available in printing. Only the latest offset technologies such as those used at Forest Print can produce ultra sharp images where there is minimal risk of ever seeing pixels.

Types of Paper: Business cards printed on 310gsm art board are a very good option, as their colours truly stand out. This is usually the standard thickness for offset art board printing in Australia. Digital or laser printing cannot use art board, as it won’t fit into the printing machine.

Most recycled paper is imported from Europe (Germany), Japan, Taiwan, and the USA. There are many different types of recycled paper to choose from, some of which have very interesting textures. Just by looking at them a person can instantly tell they are recycled. This is because of the pattern in the paper, as well as the colour, which is not as white as brand new paper.

Embossing: If you want your business card to leave an even greater imprint on people’s minds, embossing makes the letters in your printed words physically stand out from the card. People can feel the quality, literally, and this leaves a lasting impression. In Japan, where business cards are an extremely important part of the culture, the more your embossing stands out on your card, the higher status you’re seen as being!

Embossing can add a whole new dimension to your business card.

Finishes: Final touches such as UV spotting to make your printed words shinier, or gold/silver gilding for that added sign of class, can be added for an enhanced business card style.

Custom Shapes: A great way to stand out from the crowd is to have a business card with a customised shape. Make sure your card isn’t too short in length though, as you don’t want them to become permanently buried in the recesses of people’s wallets! A common custom shape for business cards is to have rounded corners. These are great because they stop a card’s corners from being bent after being quickly jammed into a wallet or pocket. You can also get plastic business cards, but we at Forest Print don’t feel they meld with our environmental friendly policy.

By Gavin Wang

*Thanks to Rob Slaven Photography for use of the first photo, Scott Roberts for the second photo, and Grace Smith for the third image, all used via Creative Commons licenses.

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