Almost every professional needs business cards. Cards are important not just for housing your information but also for networking and forging relationships with people. Even if you’re not engaging in any kind of business transaction, business cards can be effective ways to stay in contact with people you meet and create rapport with. And yet, like coffee, cereal, and most things in life, there’s a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to business cards. From the material of the card to the finish and the stock of the card, there are several different types. Finding which type is right for you is a big decision and takes some consideration. Here are some tips for sifting through all the different types of business cards and selecting the one that best suits your needs.
Different stocks for business cards
Likely one of the first things you will notice about different types of business cards is the ‘stock’ of the card. ‘Stock’ refers to the weight and thickness of the paper the card is printed on. For business cards, the thickness of a card is measured by ‘points’ with one ‘point’ being equal to one one-thousandth (0.001) of an inch. The most common business cards are typically printed with 11 point stock to 14 point stock.
Cards that are not made by professional printing companies are printed on 100 lb gloss. These are the most inexpensive cards to have printed, though they do tend to have the look and feel of being ‘cheap.’ The two most common prints you will encounter are 14 and 16 point stocks. Any company using specialized printing machines will have these available.
Thicker Card stocks
Beyond that, there are heavier weights available as well. Thicker stocks are more expensive to print, but they also are great for making a solid impression. For those who want to stand out in a field full of 14 point and 16 point cards, 32 point stock cards are also an option. These cards are much thicker and as such, can hold more elaborate designs better than thinner cards.
Since 32 point stock cards are thicker they’re also more durable than standard stocks. The last thing you want is to hand somebody a slightly damaged card. 100 lb gloss cards are affordable, but they tend to be on the flimsy side. A bold 32 point stock stands out and makes an immediate impression. Some printing companies offer even thicker options up to 48 point stock.
Different types of finishes
Once you have selected your stock and your design, the next thing to consider is what kind of finish you want. The two most common types of finishes are matte and gloss. The finish simply refers to the coating that your card is wrapped in to prevent the design from streaking.
A matte finish gives your card a non-reflective look that doesn’t shine when exposed to light. Matte finishes often appear to be more simple with more subtle coloring. Gloss finish on the other hand gives your card a reflective look that allows certain colors and designs to pop out more. Gloss finishes can enhance the way colors and designs look. Each have their benefits and ultimately it’s up to you to decide which look is best If your card emphasizes a particular design or color scheme, then having a gloss finish is a huge added bonus.
coated versus uncoated
For thicker stock cards such as 32 point and higher, the cards are not coated. The finish isn’t everything and as already noted, cards with thicker stock already stand out compared to thinner ones. One advantage to not having a coating on your card is that it allows you to play with different textures. Adding texture to your card is a great way to make your card stand out even more. A lot of design firms will sometimes elect to play with different textures on their cards. While a gloss finish can make a nice 16 point stock card stand out and highlight the bold colors within the design, a thicker, uncoated stock allows for using different textures that can make your card ‘pop’ just as well as the best gloss or matte finish can.
single of double sided coating
When coating your card you have the choice of doing a double sided or single sided coating. The difference is pretty straight forward. A ‘C2S’ card means it will be coated on both sides while a ‘C1S’ is only coated on one side. In most scenarios, double sided is the best option. Like with 100 lb stock, single sided cards have a cheap feel to them. Single sided is the cheaper option but double sided tends to be more standard.
Specialty papers for printing
Along with the stock and finish of your business card, you also sometimes have the option to select a specialty paper to print your cards on. Two the most common options you will see for this are soft-touch and plastic. Soft touch paper gives your card a more luxurious look to it, adding an almost velvet like feel. With soft-touch paper your images will look more silky and your colors will be softer in their appearance.
Plastic by contrast is for creating bold and vibrant business cards that pop out to whomever you hand them to. ‘Plastic’ print cards are made of PVC plastic and are considered the most durable of all options. Complete with a semi-gloss finish, these cards are highly resistant to water damage and general wear and tear.
Selecting the right one
When selecting the best type of business card there are number of factors to weigh. Everything from the weight/stock of the card to the finish and type of paper. Some options are less expensive though when it comes to business cards, you typically get what you pay for. The most standard option is double sided coating 14 or 16 point stock. From there, you can make any other decisions you like. It ultimately boils down to the style you are going for and what kind of impression you are trying to make. Some companies such as design firms may choose something different than a law firm. With some many different types of business cards so many different variables to consider, it can be a process picking the right one.