Business cards are (literally) our professional calling cards. They provide the information we want to give to potential clients and customers so that they can contact us for future business.
But more importantly, they make an impression. They let someone know who we are and what our “brand” is… are we a creative type, more traditional and professional, or big and bold? Our business cards can convey this to someone who doesn’t know us, which means that they are a huge part of making a lasting impression on a potential business contact.
Business cards come in many different styles, but one of the more important questions people ask us is “should I go with a glossy card finish?”
Here, we’ll go over some of the reasons you would want (or not want) a glossy finish on your business cards.
What is the Difference between Matte and Glossy?
When designing your cards—either through a professional printer or through an online provider—you will usually get the option of having a “matte” or “glossy” finish on your card. The finish of the card provides a coating that protects the text on the card from streaking while enhancing the look of the card in specific ways.
A matte finish is a dull and non-reflective coating over the card that doesn’t shine under direct lighting. Cards with matte finishes typically look flatter and simpler, with more subtle coloring and shading.
Glossy finish, on the other hand, makes certain colors and images “pop” under direct light. They reflect direct light and enhance the overall viewing of the card much more than matter.
When to Choose a Glossy Business Card
From the description above, you might be led to think that glossy is far superior to matte. This isn’t the case.
The thing about a glossy finish is that, if the underlying design isn’t tastefully done the images can look too sharp, cartoonish, or garish. Likewise, a glossy card can, if not designed well, look cheap. The benefits of matte treatments are that they don’t highlight everything and can (with the right approach) promote a sharp and professional look without the flash.
That being said, gloss treatment works great in a few specific scenarios.
When you have a beautiful, well-designed card with a lot of colors. If you work in a design field and you want to show off your sense of color and brightness, then a glossy finish could work.
If your card uses a headshot, then glossy is a great option. It will enhance the photo and make your picture look that much better.
If you value the look of the card of some functionality. Cards with a glossy finish don’t lend themselves well to being written on like matte cards do, so if you plan on handing out cards that will be written on, then glossy may not be the way to go.
So, if you use a colorful card, use a card with bright and distinct colors, or if you include a headshot, then a glossy card cold work great.