The Right Business Card Colors for You or Your Company

Choosing the right business card colors involves much more than simply picking out your favorite color. Because these little pieces of card stock carry such potential for creating a powerful and lasting impression, you will want to think carefully about three separate factors that need to influence your final choice:

  • The effects of different color on the human psyche.
  • The message you want communicated about you, your product or service.
  • The audience you are trying to attract.

As far back as the 1400s, men such as Goethe began to understand that different colors create predictable human responses within the human community. Understanding the history, science and evolution of color preferences can help you make wise choices, even for your business cards. Some colors raise our blood pressure (red); some calm it down (blue). Some stir our appetites (orange); some relax us (green). Colors can also be intimidating (black), empowering (also black), stabilizing (brown) or inspiring (magenta). While cultural norms also play a part in the subliminal interpretation of color, the fact remains, color usually creates the first impression and must be handled carefully to promote yourself, your message and/or your business, even on something as small as a business card.

Choosing the right color to represent your business is not limited to just one of the usual 15 standard choices. While two-color cards are the most popular right now, thoughtful combination is a great way to communicate more of what you want your business to represent. The most simple, no-nonsense and easy-to-read card is a basic black on white or light cream. It is utilitarian and concise, but will not stand out in crowd. More eye-catching versions are created by putting a light color or white on the front and a dark color on the back. Generally, the lighter the card or the more varieties of added colors, the less serious the card appears. Conversely, darker backgrounds with one additional well chosen color are perceived as more serious. The particular colors you choose will support the values you wish to communicate.

Your audience must also be considered in your choice, especially if you are appealing internationally, to a specific gender or to an age demographic. For example, white might be great for wedding supplies in the United States or Canada, but in eastern countries it symbolizes death. The majority of children love purple above all other colors; teens are attracted to the mystery behind black; the wealthy prefer deep green; and blue is a universally accepted business color because it indicates loyalty, integrity and trustworthiness. Women find pinks more appealing than men, who tend to prefer blues.

The following colors have been identified as good choices for certain industries:

  • Fashion—pink, blue-green, turquoise, royal blue, silver.
  • Healthcare—dark blue, light blue, green, white, turquoise.
  • Trade industries—medium blue, royal blue, white, green, orange.
  • Business—black on white board, dark blue, dark red, dark green, white.

Gray and white are safe neutral business card colors that make good backgrounds for lettering in a more vibrant color that represents your business. In fact, careful combinations can make a powerful impact on your business card, one that will encourage the recipient to file it in the rolodex instead of throwing it in the circular file. The color you choose becomes a kind of “silent salesperson” for you and/or your business. Not only will it attract the eye and subliminally convey your message, but it can strengthen your brand identity and help make the sale. That may be a lot to ask from a little business card, but your careful planning can make even it a powerful advertising asset.

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