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How to design the perfect business card

As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. In a business setting, a business card is part of that first impression, so you have to make sure your business card is up to the task. At Instant Print, we go through thousands of business cards every week, so we’ve got a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. When you’re designing your next business card, follow these tips to make sure it gets noticed for the right reasons.

 

Get the size right

business cardIn the UK, business cards are typically around 85mm wide and 55mm high, intended to mimic the size of a credit or debit card. This is so that they can be easily popped into a wallet or purse after they’ve been handed out, making it easy for your new contacts to keep them safe. Your business may prefer to do things differently, but it’s best to stick to the standard on this one.

 

Be aware of design best practice

business cardYou could have a great design in theory, but if you don’t follow best practice, you could end up red faced when it doesn’t quite go to plan. Learn about print bleed, and incorporate it into your design so that the printers don’t cut off any necessary sections. You can learn more about bleed here. On top of this, basic design necessities such as using a grid on your design will help make your design as good as it can possibly be.

 

Keep it informative

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Most times you’ll be giving out your business card because you think the recipient could be a worthwhile contact for the future. You need to ensure that when they dig your card out to get in touch, it has as many points of contact as possible. Phone nunber, email address, and professional social media links (such as LinkedIn or Twitter) are typically included as standard. The important thing to remember though is to include modes of communication you actually use.

 

Pick a fitting colour scheme

business card 

In any branding exercise, you’ll have to decide what kind of colour scheme suits your business. If you’re a creative business, something bright and playful will be suitable, while a cleaner, more conservative design will suit a more traditional business. Neither approach is wrong, but just make sure you pick the one that suits your business. If in doubt, follow the colour scheme that your business uses in the rest of its branding.

 

Consider paper thickness

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A thicker paper will make your business cards more robust and professional-looking, while a thin business card will not only fold and crease more easily, but will also look and feel less professional. It will cost more, but it’s worth splashing out for thicker paper. Also, if you go for a thick paper, you can choose to emboss words on the card, which will make it look even more professional.

 

Don’t overcomplicate it

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When designing a business card, the temptation can be to cram as much information and design into the space as possible. This is especially tempting as the space you’re working with is so small. On the contrary, you should ensure that some white space is left. Not only does this leave room for the designs to ‘breathe,’ but it also ensures that anyone you hand out your card to has space to write extra details on it. They may, for example, wish to write down the reason they’d like to contact you in future.

 

INSTANT PRINT W1 ARE BASED IN FITZROVIA, AT THE HEART OF LONDON. GET IN TOUCH WITH US HERE TO GET A QUOTE.

How to pick colour schemes like a designer

How to pick colour schemes like a designer

If you run – or work for – a small business, purse strings can be tight, so bringing in a designer can be an unattainable luxury. Sometimes, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves, learn the tricks of the trade, and do it yourself. We have previously written a guide to picking fonts, and in this week’s blog we’re going to teach you how to pick colour schemes. This is an aspect of design that can be catastrophic if done wrong, but thankfully there’s one very simple tool you can use to help you; the ...

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How to pick your font like a designer

How to pick your font like a designer

  Any designer knows that font choice can make or break a design. Font choice is a bit like body language and voice tone when you’re talking to someone; it’s not just about the words that you use, but how those words are presented. Most people by now will know that you should never, ever use comic sans (and if you don’t know why, please click this link and read up on comic sans immediately) but what fonts should you use and when? Read on for a basic guide to the world of fonts. Learn your ...

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Five videos that teach you everything you need to know about printing

If you work for a business that commissions printing jobs, you may be interested to find out how certain types of printing are done. Here are five video clips that show you how five popular kinds of printing are carried out.

 

Gutenburg printing

 

If you want to learn about printing, the first step should be the Gutenberg printing press. Essentially, this was the world’s first printer, and it helped ideas spread throughout Europe in the 15th Century. Here’s a video showing how the press works. Give it a watch and see how it all began!

 

 

 

 

Business cards

 

This is one of the most common requests we get in, and it’s easy to see why. Every business needs business cards, and a good business card can really help to cement a good first impression. But how are they made? And how do they end up so perfectly cut? Watch on to find out.

 

 

 

T-Shirts

 

Businesses might want printed T-Shirts for a variety of reasons. If your business is particularly casual, staff uniforms may include a T-Shirt, with the company logo printed on it. Companies may also wish to have T-Shirts printed if they’re doing a team run, or some sort of external team marketing activity. Here’s how the process of printing T-Shirts works.

 

 

 

 

Mugs

 

It’s a proud day for many fledgling businesses when they get their first set of branded mugs. For a business owner, the first sip of that morning coffee tastes all the sweeter when it’s from a mug with the company name on it! Here’s how mug printing works.

 

 

 

Vinyl printing

 

You may be interested in vinyl printing if you’re looking for a banner, to promote your company at a conference or event. To all intents and purposes, a vinyl printer looks like a regular printer. The key difference is the vinyl printing material that is used instead of paper.

 

 

INSTANT PRINT W1 ARE BASED IN FITZROVIA, AT THE HEART OF LONDON. GET IN TOUCH WITH US HERE TO GET A QUOTE.

 

 

 

Guide to design for businesses that can’t afford designers

Good design is absolutely vital for any business; whether you need a new website, a neat new stack of business cards, or an advert. Top designers are expensive, however, and small businesses don’t always have the capital at their disposal to hire or commission them. Because of this, small business owners may have to get creative and do the design work themselves. The benefit of this approach is that it cuts out the financial cost of hiring a top designer, but the major downside is that designs put together by people who are not design-minded can turn out pretty poorly. Here are a few tips you can apply to your designs that will help even the worst designers create killer designs.

 

Use grids

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If you just take one thing from this article, make sure it’s this. Grids can make the difference between a good designer and a great one, or a bad designer and a passable one. Most good design and photo manipulation software will allow you to place a grid over your design, which will allow you to ensure that everything is in line properly. Nothing will give the game away that you don’t know what you’re doing quite like a design that doesn’t line up.

 

 

Utilise space

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If you’re not particularly design-minded, the temptation can be to fill all possible white space on your design with pictures and words. This is actually the opposite of what you should do; when utilised effectively, white space can really help a design stand out.

Filling all possible white space will make your design look cluttered, and people looking at it won’t know where to start. The whole point of design is to display information in an aesthetically pleasing and simple way. Filling all possible white space is – if anything – just providing the viewer with information overload. Embrace the white space, and you’ll be surprised how much cleaner and more professional your designs look.

 

Choose the right fonts

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We all know that Comic Sans is to be avoided at all costs (and if you don’t, you can brush up here), and this just highlights the importance of selecting the right fonts. Every font has its own unique character and ideal usage, and will look out of place if you use it incorrectly. The correct font to use all depends on what kind of business you run. Fun, playful fonts can look great, but if you run a law firm you’re not giving off the right impression. On the reverse, if you run a hip creative agency, you shouldn’t use a serious, business-like font.

It may seem like a small detail, but you should really agonise over which font you choose. The words you use on your design will lose all their impact if they’re presented in the wrong way.

 

Maintain brand consistency

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Your company branding is important, as it helps create a cohesive identity. Your brand identity must run through everything that you do like a stick of rock, and that goes for every piece of design you do. It’s best practice to have a universal company colour scheme, logo, and possibly even a company font.

 

If all else fails… use a template

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Design isn’t for everyone, and if you’re banging your head on your keyboard trying to make your original design look even halfway passable, it may be worth using a template. Whether you’re designing a poster, business card, flyer, or something else, there are many templates online that you can tweak to make your own. Just be sure that you add enough of your own flair to it that it doesn’t look like the original template.

 

What you should do here is directly crib the layout, but change the colour scheme, fonts, and pictures. That way all you have to do is drop in your copy, images, and company colours, and you’re away! Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone.

INSTANT PRINT W1 ARE BASED IN FITZROVIA, AT THE HEART OF LONDON. GET IN TOUCH WITH US HERE TO GET A QUOTE.

What is print bleed? A definitive guide

If you’re sending a print job to a printing company, chances are you’ll be asked to leave some space on the design for bleed. But what is print bleed, and how can you avoid getting caught out? Read on for our definitive guide to print bleed, and how to ensure it never becomes an issue.

 

Print bleed explained

Put simply, bleed can be defined as ‘excess’. It is the area on a design that can be trimmed off after printing without negatively impacting the design by cutting bits of it short. No printers have the capability to print right to the edge of the page, so the print design must specify three zones.

The simple design below illustrates how to best set up your bleed on a design.

 

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An example of print bleed

The Safe Zone

Firstly, you need to have a line surrounding the ‘safe zone’. On the above design, this is the red line. This line is the innermost cut that the printer could make.  This should be placed around all the important information and imagery on your design that you absolutely cannot have removed. So, for example, the safe zone would have to surround all of the holder’s information on a business card.

The Cut Line

Secondly, you need a cut line, the line where you’d like the cut to be. On the design  It is best practice to allow for 3mm either way, so this should be 3mm away from the safe zone.

The Bleed Zone

The third, and final, zone is the bleed zone. This is between the edge of the design – shown here in black - and the cut line. This needs to be two things. Firstly, it needs to be expendable, containing no important detail or information. Secondly, it needs to contain colour and design, so that if the cut occurs in the bleed zone, then you are not left with white space surrounding your design.

 

Potential pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

To print industry folk, bleed is a fairly simple concept, though it can be confusing to those outside the industry, and people will frequently make mistakes. Here’s a few potential print bleed pitfalls to avoid.

 

Important information outside the safe zone

If you place important design flourishes or information outside of the safe zone, they could get axed. Even if you place them inside the cut line, you could still end up with important parts of your design being cut. Best practice is to draw your safe zone line around all of the vital information, and place your cut line 3mm outside it.

 

Bleed zone differs to the rest of your design

Some people choose to mark out their bleed zone by leaving it white, or filling it in with a colour. This is a bad idea, as the bleed zone is there to provide a bit of extra design, as the cut can occur within this area. Take a look at our example design above. If we were to fill the bleed zone with block yellow colour, we could end up with a yellow border around the final printed design. Not a great look.

 

No bleed zone or safe zone specified 

Warning, you’re playing with fire if you do this. If you’re leaving it to the printer to decide where to cut off, don’t be surprised if the final result doesn’t look exactly how you’d hoped it would.

 

Instant Print W1 are based in Fitzrovia, at the heart of London. Get in touch with us here to get a quote.

 

6 Common Business Card Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Even in today’s world of instant communication, where social media, email, and - of course - a phone are all available on a device in your pocket, there’s an enduring appeal to the business card.  And for good reason. A quality business card can turn a person you meet at a networking event into a client. Positive conversations into business. Passive interest into sales.

But - of course - you need to make sure your business card does two things. It needs to both look the part, and provide all the necessary information. Here are 6 common business card mistakes, and how you can avoid them.

Getting the style wrong

 

creative-business-cards-4-16-1

When designing your business card, it can be tempting to go for an imaginative design. If you get it right, it can really pay off. For example, see the pictured business card from a furniture company that folds into a chair. However, whether you’re thinking of going down the creative route, or just making a traditional, standard business card, you need to hit the right tone. Think about what customers expect of your company brand, and your industry. If your business card gives off the wrong impression, people are less likely to want to do business with you.

If you’re a designer, or a creative professional of some kind, it may pay off to get innovative with your business card. But if you’re a lawyer, something more traditional would be suitable. If in doubt, it’s probably safer to go for a nicely designed classic card. Aesthetically pleasing enough to appeal to design geeks, while professional enough to be suitable for more corporate types.

Picking the wrong dimensions

 

Amy Walsh, Caherdavin Limerick watch as Postmen Ciaran Collins and Kevin Kiely by the massive Christmas card they are delivering for the people of Limerick ahead of switching on of the city’s Christmas lights this Sunday. The card is to be opened at a special event that will see airborne Santa’s elves decorate the city’s Christmas Tree on Bedford Row at 4pm on Sunday 23rd November. Official news from the North Pole is just in. Limerick has come in top of class on the 'good' list! This year the council of nice is diverting funds to Limerick to spend on extra magic, extra joy and extra spirit. We don't know if it was the elves or the fairies, but somebody spilled the magic dust all over Limerick and the city is lighting up in all sorts of unexpected magical ways… and it all kicks off this Sunday when the people of Limerick are delivered a Christmas message like never before. Ahead of the much anticipated switching on of the Christmas in Limerick festive lights, a GIANT envelope (which is 2 meters tall!) has been delivered addressed to “The People of Limerick”… with a special note that it is not to be opened until Sunday 23 November at 4pm. Although the identity of the sender is still unconfirmed, we’ve a BIG hunch we know who it is from, so we’ve drafted in a very special translator to join us on Bedford Row this coming Sunday to help us open it… Pic Sean Curtin Photo.

It’s not just style you need to think about, size matters too. As a rule of thumb, if your business card is bigger than a credit card you need to reassess. Typically people will store business cards they have collected in the credit card section of their wallet, or a business card holder. If it doesn’t fit, your new contact will probably shove the card in their pocket, making it more likely that it’ll end up crumpled and forgotten, or going through the washing machine by accident. Your company may think out of the box, but when it comes to business card size, it’s best to follow the herd.

Not being social

 

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You spend hours keeping your personal and business social media accounts in tip top shape. Or you pay a lot of money so that somebody can keep them running smoothly on your behalf. Yet, in many instances, people don’t include their social media details on their business cards.

Think of it this way. People you meet are far more likely to give you a Twitter follow, or connect with you on LinkedIn, than call you up to become a customer right off the bat. Even if they don’t properly get in touch, you’ll still have a chance to wow them on social media, making them more likely to pick up the phone in future.

Not enough details

 

Watching something on a cellphone

The definition of a schoolboy error. At an absolute minimum, a business card should contain: your name, the company you work for, your job title, your email address, your phone number, and a website. Don’t expect someone to remember your job title after a 3 minute conversation at a networking event. Equally, don’t leave your phone number as the only point of contact. Leave people the option to get in touch over a number of different mediums. If you don’t like email (and you wouldn’t be the only one) leave your LinkedIn or Twitter details on there instead.

A business card should show who you are, and how you can be contacted. No excuses!

No breathing space

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You need to avoid the opposite problem too - a cluttered design with information overload. A business card where the content has no room to ‘breathe’ is bad for two reasons.

Firstly, a cluttered design will confuse whoever you give it to, and may result with them dropping it in the bin when you’re out of view. Secondly, a design with lots of white space not only looks great, but allows the recipient to write a few details from your conversation on it. Let’s say you talk through a service your company offers with a  potential client, and then pass them your card. Even if that particular service isn’t mentioned on your card, the potential customer can add it themselves.

This is the golden rule of business card design. Less is more.

Muddled branding

 

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Picture the scene. You’re at a networking event, and you’ve met a potential new client. You hand over your brilliantly designed, contemporary, professional-looking business card. Your new contact taps the website into their phone, and the colour scheme, fonts, and even logos are completely different to those on your card. In this situation, it will seem like either your website or your business cards are out of date. Not a good look.

As a general rule, it’s important to ensure that your branding is consistent across your company, and your business cards are no exception. The most visible aspect of your company to non-customers is your website, so your business cards need to share common branding signifiers with it - such as colours, logos, and fonts.

Instant Print W1 are based in central London, and print professional, top quality business cards for you and your employees. Get in touch with us here to get a quote.

HOW TO PUT ON A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS CONFERENCE

If you work in the B2B sector, its likely that your company will be putting on a business conference at some point to meet potential and current clients. Business events are the perfect way to share your knowledge and expertise and encourage attendees to learn more about your business offering. From providing promotional merchandise to creating a hashtag for attendees to live tweet, check out the Instant Print W1 guide to the perfect conference.

IPW1 conference graphic

The right printing methods for your business

The right printing methods for your business

If like most businesses your objective is to grow brand awareness and increase sales, then an effective marketing strategy that combines both online and offline tactics is ideal. For small or local businesses, direct marketing and printed merchandise gives customers something tangible that they couldn’t otherwise access online. If you plan to invest in some marketing collateral like posters and banners for your store, menus and loyalty cards for your coffee shop or stationary and roller banners ...

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Marketing ideas to celebrate The Queen’s birthday

Marketing ideas to celebrate The Queen’s birthday

With The Queen celebrating her birthday in a matter of weeks, there’s never been a better time for small businesses and retailers to start creating a buzz about the big day ahead of her official birthday in June. As an SME or local business, there are plenty of exciting marketing ideas to maximise on the festivities by using promotional materials from Instant Print W1. Start building excitement around The Queen’s highly anticipated birthday today and take advantage of the fantastic products Inst...

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