Autograph and business cards are the memories that your fans, the producer, the label or radio and television presenters take away from you. They don’t just serve as “mementoes” but can also be collector’s items. Therefore it is all the more important to pay special attention to the design.
A few considerations to the design criteria are listed here:
1) The format
Autograph and business cards are often seen in standard formats. Autograph cards often have DIN A7 format (high), business cards usually come in 85 x 55 mm format (landscape or portrait). Many online printing services offer these cards in the usual way. The advantage of such standard formats is that they can be inserted seamlessly into larger collections, fit into standard cases and are therefore available when required. The disadvantage, however, is that this does not create a unique selling point. If you want to attract attention, you have to stand out. This is also and especially true for your cards. Of course not only the size can be varied, but also the form. A square business card already catches the eye through its shape … A round autograph card all the more. Technically this is no problem – the catch is rather the increased production costs (special formats) – and here a round format is again clearly more cost-intensive than any rectangular format. On the other hand, not every format that stands out is equally useful. A jagged star certainly catches the eye and is something special, but it is put into your pocket twice, the corners are bent or torn off and the “signboard” for you has become a battered shred paper. That can’t be in your interest. In this respect, formats with pointy and narrow corners are not recommended.
2) Printed on one or both sides?
The front side of your cards should be clear and concise. So if you absolutely want to store a lot of information, the back is suitable for this. It should be borne in mind that double-sided printing increases costs. In addition, many people like to use an empty back on business cards to make notes about the other person or the conversation, in order to be able to assign the card later better. One has no chance to do so if it’s printed.
3) The material
Besides the optical impression, the material of your card plays an important role in the first impression you make. A thin paper under 200g/qm is perceived as cheap or of little value. And impression one will transfer to your image. Common business cards range from 300g/sqm to 350g/sqm. Heavy papers are haptically pleasing, but are more difficult to transport in large quantities (you don’t get 10 of them in your wallet). In addition, the production costs for heavier paper also increases. Besides the paper thickness, many business card manufacturers also offer different types of paper. Thus, a structured paper or a bamboo paper naturally leaves a different impression than a simple coated paper (thus with a usual smooth surface). If you want it very special, you can also ask for possibilities to use completely different materials (plastic/fabric/metallic materials). Other materials but also special papers cannot always be printed with digital printing methods (see next paragraph). This in turn drives up costs.
When it comes to printing, the choice of colours plays a costly role. Simple SW printing is much more cost-effective than complex multicolor printing. The printing process is also essential. Digital printing is the cheaper choice for small and medium runs. Classical offset printing is better in terms of quality. It also offers the option of using spot colours that are not available in the digital printing process (e.g. Pantone colours). Furthermore, many manufacturers now offer the use of coatings for surface finishing or design. Thus one can design very beautiful formative effects with the use of partial clear varnish. Metallic ink, (foil) embossing and UV varnishing are further means of finishing. These additional features naturally increase the attention paid to a business card (something special is rarely thrown away) – but they are always associated with additional costs. However, it is worth clarifying this in advance, as some exciting features, such as clear varnish, hardly carry any additional financial weight.
Important note for autograph cards (but also business cards): You want to sign your cards or write a short text on them. Therefore make sure that the card is not painted all over. You can only write on a varnished surface with special pens, which you usually don’t have at hand. This also prevents the radio presenter or the representative of a label you met shortly after the performance from quickly taking some personal notes on your business card – very bad 😉
5) The content
Often one is inclined to place as much information as possible on the card. There is beside the own logo, the band name, your own name or if necessary even the names of all band members. Then you want to have an address, phone number, a link to your homepage and an email address on it. Facebook, Spotify, Youtube and Instagram are mentioned. And suddenly you don’t know where to put all the information. There you are quickly inclined to print the backside for reasons of clarity. However, we advise against it. As so often, the rule “KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid) applies here as well. Less is more. So think carefully what really has to be on the card. The front should contain the duty – the back may show the freestyle. Our minimum recommendation is:
for business cards: band name, logo, website, email address and phone number – back side photos/graphics/free space for notes
for autograph card: official photo/logo, artist, band name, website – back blank/photo(s)/tour dates/postcards layout
6) The design
A few general design rules should be observed.
For an autograph card the photo of the artist or the logo is in the foreground. This should be professional and of high quality. Also a good picture of a concert can be used here. With a band you should make sure that all members of the band are recognizable. In case the photo was taken with a black or dark background, you have to make sure that there is a bright (uncoated) area for signatures. If you don’t use special pens, you won’t be able to recognize the signatures. If this is not possible on the front side, an appropriately prepared reverse side is also possible – but this should be avoided, as this separates the image from the signature. A logo can be placed as an overlay over the front image or photo to increase the degree of identification.
With a business card, the use of a good logo is often completely sufficient. If a logo already exists, the design of the card should underline the style of the logo. The same applies to typography and colour selection. Daisies on pink background paper with digital typo are probably perceived as less suitable ideas for a grindcore band.
For most designs, less is more. Whoever gets his hands on your cards should immediately recognize who you are and also recognize all important information immediately. Your cards are your figurehead. Here saving makes little sense.
If you have any further questions or need advice on this topic, the Sound Marketing Team will be happy to assist you at any time.