There’s been a steady trend toward creating business cards that are designed to get you noticed but ultimately don’t do a thing for you. Let’s step back for a second and remind ourselves the purpose of a business card – they’re simply meant to help your customers find your quickly at a later date. If don’t you make keeping the business card around for future reference the goal, you make the entire card obsolete.

For example, if you’ve ever gotten a crazy business card from someone, do you remember who it was? Can you find that card right now? Is it stored with the rest of your business cards? In most cases the answers to the above are no, no, no, and no.

A few rules that can ensure your information is available when your customers need it include:

  • Standard size: there’s a reason why business card printing companies always make 3.5″x2″ the standard size
  • Avoid gimmicks like odd folds – they make it tough for your customers to store your card in card holders or a Rolodex (yes, these are still very much in use).
  • Keep your contact information on the front so customers can quickly find your info

So here are a few business cards that are definitely interesting, intriquing, and exciting, but fail to make it easy for the customer to keep your card available. Use these examples to inspire you to creativity but know what NOT to do if you want your card to be one that contacts can easily store for future reference.

Self Dialing Business Card

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This may be as extreme as it gets – the card will actually dial your number on a standard land line. While this is a very cool, very techy card design, it’s completely impractical for your clients to store. From the fragile design (that this card designer says should be embedded into a card), to the risk of needing a client to actually use a land line, this just doesn’t do you much good.

Balloon Business Cards

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Once again, we have a really innovative, fun idea with this balloon business card, but is this practical? I say no. Would you want your clients to have to store this balloon in their desks, have to inflate it, read your info, and then deflate it? I wouldn’t! Also, considering this particular example is for an asthma doctor, I think they have the idea backward – you don’t want asthma patients to have to depend on blowing up a balloon to find you!

Oddly Shaped Cards

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This card design is all over the Internet and it’s a wonderful design concept – that doesn’t work in context. These cards won’t fit into a standard business card holder due to the odd dimensions. A little bit smaller and the design works. Make sure to keep the dimensions within the 3.5″x2″ range.

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The same goes for this type of design. This is impossible for clients to store in a standard business card holder – add to the fact that it’s metal, so can’t be forced or folded into a card holder. No, your clients are NOT going to add your business card to their keychains…

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I love this leaf design – if it were a flyer or a brochure, but not as your primary business card. Again, the dimensions are all off. You can’t store this design anywhere you might normally have business cards sitting around. While it’s a cool first impression, it’s not going to last.

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In this last example of oddly shaped cards, I want to use this really nice design of a cupcake business card. The design is so on point, but the card just won’t get kept. Not without folding it or cutting it, at least. Don’t make your cards get man-handled so they can be stored. 9 times out of 10, clients just won’t keep them.

Business Cards Made with Odd Materials

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These matchbox cards are very cool and even include a sample of food. But, based upon our earlier point about practical business card design, do we really think the client will keep this for future reference? It’s very unlikely.

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This is a very cool and very expensive business card design. The details are amazing and the metal materials are very memorable. But I’d be more likely to use this as a weapon than to keep it in my business card folder. Another concern is the small parts on the neck of the violin – they’re going to be prone to breaking off which could cause all kinds of problems from injury at the worst to a mishapen design at the best.

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This is an interesting concept, but clearly falls into the impractical materials category. Customers are MUCH more likely to discard this design – or accidentally use it as a tissue! I like the texture and design, but the materials are all wrong for something you want your customers to keep around.

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Unless your customers are HUGE fans, they’re not likely to decorate their bodies or other things with your business cards. These rubber band business cards are not going to pass our test of storability or practical use. While I love the idea, it’s not going to be around next week, much less two months from now.

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And last, I couldn’t resist poking some fun at this business card on a rock. My theory about this design is that you can get a lot of long-term leverage by throwing this through a client’s office window so that it becomes part of the evidence against you, getting you long-term storage in the local police department. Otherwise, avoid this design – and using a Hotmail email address on your card, if at all possible.

About the author: has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers booklet printing, business cards, flyers, posters, postcards, brochures, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.