Jason on the business of business cards

Having recently gone through the somewhat painful experience of getting business cards printed for Whitespace (Whitespace being my web design agency that I’ve started with Adrian and Paul), I thought I’d share some advice on this whole business card printing industry.

First up though are our Whitespace business cards, litho printed on 400gsm Magno Matt with spot gloss varnish on the red paper planes.

Whitespace Business Card
There are a couple of secrets and surprises hidden in the doodles
Whitespace Business Card 2
Spot the iPhone wallpaper?

When we started this whole process, we went through the whole “we want the most unique, kick-ass, out of this world, you want to lick them” business cards. We went through a number of blog posts showcasing amazing business cards and used those for inspiration. Here is just a couple we went through.

There really are some awesome business cards that people have designed and created. There are cards designed from plastics, business cards in cut out envelopes, fold out cards, metal cards, embroidered material cards, cut out puzzles, tear off strips, the list goes on.

We wanted to go with a card that slid into a small envelope that had cut out sections. The effect we wanted to create was as you slid the card in and out of the envelope, it looked as if our plane was taking off. We then wanted to print the card on a really unique stock and chose the 250gsm Antalis Rives Design Bright White. See the image below to get a feel for what it looked like.

Antalis Rives Design Bright White
Amazing stock, but a bit flimsy at business card sizes

As Adrian was cracking on the actual designs of the cards, I started getting quotes for our “little” idea. I had an idea of around R3 per card (its only 90mm x 50mm) and the envelope maybe another R3? So ±R6 per card. Forget it. Think more around the R15 mark per card for our “little” idea. You see, when you move away from the standard stock and try and add something unique like a cut out envelope, you easily can end up paying R20 000 for 1000 business cards.

We scraped the envelope idea, but stuck with the unique stock for the cards. After doing a couple of digital print mockups at our printers, we started to get really worried about the stock. Firstly the stock felt flimsy when you held it and secondly, but more importantly, we couldn’t guarantee that our cloud doodles on the back of our cards would come out perfectly crisp. If that happened, the entire effect of those doodles would be ruined.

We sat at the printers thinking how we had come full circle. From an elaborate cut out envelope hiding a flying paper plane, to something very plain and simple. The thing is, we were so happy with the plain and simple because it showed off the amazing design Adrian had created on the card. Our cards worked out to around R6 a card as we went with a thicker stock, but you realise quickly that you pay for quality in the business card game.

So, here is my advice on getting business cards printed. Pour all your energy into designing an amazing business card and get that printed on stock that you know will show off the design the best. Possibly add a spot gloss varnish or emboss the card to add some effects, but stick to what works and your printers are 100% comfortable with. Lastly, make sure you business cards are litho printed. Don’t even waste your time going digital. You can just as well print your business cards at home!

So if you aiming for the most unique, kick-ass, out of this world, you want to lick them business cards and you haven’t got a problem handing out a R20 note to everyone you meet, go for it!

We had our cards printed at Deep Design in Woodstock, Cape Town. They come recommended.

6 thoughts on “Jason on the business of business cards”

  1. Shot for mentioning Deep Design in the post, I’ve been wanting to get some cards printed just so I had something to hand out that wasn’t strictly a business card per say and have had a lot of problems with fonts looking odd, not knowing what paper to get printed onto and so forth. I have a better idea on the paper now and gloss, still struggling to understand the design side unfortunately.

    1. Hey Chris, go in and chat to the guys at Deep Design. They have tons of business cards you can take a look at and they have a team of designers to help you create whatever you looking for. They are really helpful.

  2. Ye, I actually have a design already, so I’m thinking that I’ll go in and show them, even if it means them recreating it to be business card ready.

    I initially went to Paper Jet Print, and they were decent, but I didn’t really get great service.

    1. Oh ok, well in that case, take it in with you. I know the design needs to be in a specific format and if you do go in, they can help you select the exact CMYK swatch colours too.

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