Give your business cards a makeover

Patti Murphy

Small, white and uninspired, business cards are hardly treasures worthy of safekeeping. As a result, they are often lost or relegated to car floors and coat pockets, where they are quickly forgotten.

A sad fate, but not an inescapable one.

“There are a lot of ideas out there on how to set yourself and your business apart (using business cards),” said Ashley Killpack of Ashley’s Custom Stationery and More, 22 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills.

Businessmen who hand out a card with every handshake should avoid unique cards, as a box of 100 can run $75 to $130.

“But if you are a small-business owner and you want to be remembered, you need a card that sticks out,” Killpack said.

Robin Lee of Hinsdale wanted her invention, the Zippity — a zippered garment that may be worn as a skirt, dress or cover-up — remembered. Employing Killpack’s services, Lee created a business card on which a letter press was used to create subtle indentations on the paper. 

“Since I’m in a textural business, I wanted a card that you’d run your fingers across, like you would with fabric,” Lee said. “I think of business cards as little gifts, as mementos. A business card expresses and represents the uniqueness of your product.”

Part from the norm to create a business card people will keep at their finger tips by considering the following:

- Size

The rectangle is pretty much non-negotiable. “You definitely want something that will fit in a wallet,” Killpack said. Cards that are a little bit bigger or smaller than the standard, however, are distinctive.

- Black and white = boring

Ninety percent of the business cards Killpack sees are white. A colorful or patterned card is one of the easiest ways to give your enterprise personality. “I encourage people to use colors that go along with their business,” the stationer said. “My business card is yellow with navy ink because those are my colors. My logo is done in those colors and I have a navy and yellow striped awning over my door.”

- Straight up

Nearly all cards that are white are also horizontal. Words running down the vertical length of the card gives pieces an edge.  

- With ‘align’ like that

Printing text on the right or left side of the card as opposed to the center can create a fresh look. “The card needs to be balanced,” Killpack said. “If you put something in the top left quarter you need something in the bottom left quarter.” Killpack advises minimal copy. A card should feature little more than the business’s name, services provided, a phone number and an e-mail.

- Now featuring

Small graphics, known as design features in the paper biz, add dimension. These visual elements, which break up information on the card, can be as simple as a scroll, a row of dots or a line. Logos are also a good way to liven up material, though Killpack cautions against any art that overpowers the card’s message.

Contact Patti Murphy at


What are the top things to consider before ordering business cards?  Ashley Killpack of Ashley’s Custom Stationery and More says:

1. Color: It should be neutral, bold or pastel. Color says a lot about image.

2. Font: Typefaces may take on a whimsical style or thick, block letters. Make sure your font accurately represents your business.

3. Layout: The design of a card can distinguish a business from others that offer the same product or service. Be original.