Creating a captivating brand is essential for any business, whether you are a new startup or an established company working on modernizing your style. As your business grows, so should your brand. And an eye-catching business card is the cornerstone of any successful branding venture.
However, if you think of a business card design as just the text and graphics, you could be missing an opportunity to elevate your style and impress your customers. You may also want to consider the importance of the physical production of your business cards. Where will they be printed? What kind of paper will you use? What method of printing will be used to create them? These factors can be just as important as the graphic design itself. That’s why we have identified these 10 techniques to help inspire your thinking about your new cards.
Letterpress printing is truly done on a “press,” meaning it uses pressure to push ink on to the paper. You can use this to your advantage by cranking up the pressure to press deeply into the paper, creating the deep impression look that signifies a true letterpress print.
Why use ink at all? When combined with soft, textured paper like 100% Cotton Crane’s Lettra, a blind deboss can add a subtle touch of texture that looks great, especially when combined with a bold splash of color. One important tip is to only use blind deboss for design elements – important details should always be printed with adequate contrast for easy visibility. This example shows a blind debossed logo on 100% Cotton paper.
We are fortunate to live in a universe with three dimensions. You can use this to add a new dimension to your business card design, too. The thick paper we use for letterpress printing edge painting gives you a new surface to customize with an exciting splash color. Go subtle with a soft subtle hue that’s close to the paper color, or go big with a neon fluorescent color. It’s up to you! Fourth dimensional edge painting coming soon, pending results of tests at the Large Hadron Collider.
This example shows neon red edge painting on 220lb (600gsm) Crane’s Lettra paper.
Duplexing is the name for mounting two thicknesses of paper together to create a double-thick sheet. There are many interesting ways to use duplexing in your design.
Many designs call for a solid color on one side of the sheet. Instead of printing the color, you can achieve a deep, brilliant shade by using paper that is dyed in the papermaking process. A great example of this are some of the bright shades from French Paper Co. They are made with bright, intense colors that would be difficult to achieve with printing ink alone. But what happens if the back of the sheet needs to be white? That’s where duplexing shines. You can easily mount and red sheet to a white sheet to create a custom paper stock that’s unique for your design.
Another use for duplexing is when you would like to achieve a deep letterpress impression on both sides of a business card. With a deep impression, bruising on the back of the sheet can be unavoidable. Instead, you can print the fronts and backs on separate sheets, and mount them together after printing. The bruising is concealed between the two sheets.
The duplexing process is can be done precisely, but we do not recommend using on designs with a border on both sides of the paper unless absolutely necessary. Some customers have expressed concern that the glue may come apart, or may not line up exactly with the front of the card. The glue we use is specifically designed for this process, so it will not come apart in normal use. And the gluing is done before the cards are trimmed. After trimming, the glue line is barely noticeable.
This example shows 110lb (3oogsm) Crane’s Lettra mounted to 30pt Kraft Chipboard for a unique combination of paper color, texture and thickness.
Duplexing has a stylish cousin, Triplexing. This is where we mount two similar sheets to a center sheet to create a triple-thick piece of paper. You can use it with brightly colored paper to create a stripe of color similar to edge painting. Or you can just use it to make a very thick card. This example shows two thicknesses of 110lb Crane’s Lettra triplexed to a center sheet of gray paper. It’s finished with a silver-tone eyelet for use as a hang tag.
Don’t be a square, or a rectangle for that matter. Die cutting can help you add a unique shape to your business cards. With die cutting, a custom cutting die is made from sharp steel rule that is precisely bent and mounted in a wooden base. It’s locked into the press just like a printing plate, but instead of printing, it uses the pressure of the press to punch the cards out precisely in the shape of your design. To design a die-cut card, start with vector die lines. A die maker can usually use a PDF file. The process is a fairly precise and will allow your printed artwork to align cleanly with the cut edges.
The paper itself could play an important part of your design. In this example, the business card is letterpres printed on plantable seed paper. It’s die cut, too, so you can plant the base of the card in the ground and leave the top sticking out of the dirt for an instant “plant” while you wait for the real seeds to germinate. Your brand could use a signature color, texture or finish to create an iconic look. A paper company that offers many unique textures is Gmund. You can explore the many colors and textures they offer at gmund.com.
Foil stamping is very similar to letterpress, and it is done on the same type of equipment. The difference is that it uses a film of metallized foil instead of ink. The press is equipped with a special electric heating attachment that heats a metal die between 200-300F. The heated die, combined with the impression, transfers the foil in the shape of the design. In this example, we used bronze and black metallic foil on black French Poptone Black Licorice paper to create a striking appearance. And it’s not just gold and silver foil stamping. There are many colors available in both metallic and pigment shades.
Foil stamping doesn’t have to be a metallic color. We often use white pigment foil stamping to print business cards that print white on dark black paper. There are also clear foils, and pearlized tint foils.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you must. There are many possibilities with letterpress printing, but in the end, ink on paper is the classic. Don’t be afraid to create a simple design that embraces the elegance of fine typography, beautiful paper and and generous white space. After all, this has been the tradition for 500 years.