15 Business Card Sins Lawyers Commit
by Trey Ryder
Sin #1: Your type is too small. Few things provoke as many negative comments
as type that’s too small to read. In an effort to achieve a corporate or high-end
look, artists often choose fonts that are painfully small. Don’t. Make sure
your prospects can easily read the words on your card.
Sin #2: Your fonts are hard to read. To achieve a high-end look, many lawyers
turn to scripts and even Old English typefaces. Unfortunately, they’re nearly
impossible to decode. How often have you looked at a business card and then
rolled your eyes because you didn’t have a clue what it said? A business card
that people can’t read is worthless.
Sin #3: You print on top of a photograph or illustration. Some lawyers put
an image or photo on their card and then print words across it, called overprinting.
Don’t do it. Overprinting makes the illustration hard to see and the words hard
Sin #4: Your letters are spaced too far apart. Several years ago, artists
started putting a lot of space between letters within the same word to gain
a sophisticated look. They could take a five-letter word and make it as wide
as a ten- or twenty-letter word. Few things look as artificial or amateurish
as letters that are pulled apart in an effort to create a highbrow effect. If
you’re sophisticated, people know it. If not, they know that, too.
Sin #5: Your fonts create the wrong image. Fonts are not just a matter of
personal preference. Their lines, curves and serifs create a certain look. Formal
or casual. Contemporary or traditional. Elegant or comic. Lawyers often choose
a font they like without realizing that the font doesn’t convey the image they
want to communicate.
Sin #6: You use too much foil. Foil stamping can look professional when
used with discretion. But commercial printers get excited when they buy a new
foil stamping machine. For the next few months, everybody who walks out of their
shop has foil-covered business cards that look like an explosion in a paint
Sin #7: Your information is hard to find. When someone looks at your card,
they want some piece of information. Often, it’s your phone number or e-mail
address because they want to contact you. Make sure you put information where
prospects can find it quickly and easily. Otherwise, you’ll end up frustrating
the same people you want to attract.
Sin #8: Your card stock is flimsy. People see your card’s colors and fonts
immediately. But many lawyers don’t realize that people also draw conclusions
based on how your card feels. Rough or smooth. Heavy or light. Firm or limp.
Make sure your card’s feel is consistent with the image you want to project.
Sin #9: You use cheap, raised, plastic lettering. It’s called thermography
and people like it because they can feel the letters as they rise off the card.
The fact that lettering stands up to coffee stains is hardly a reason to buy
it. It’s fine for a plumber or car mechanic, but thermography falls short if
you’re looking to convey an upscale image.
Sin #10: Your information is out of date. Some people think they can’t order
new cards until they use up all their old cards. They may even cross out the
old phone number and write the new number above it. Spend the money. Order new
Sin #11: Your card is more like an ad. Lawyers sometimes design their business
cards so they look like small display ads. More often than not, this is a mistake.
Prospects do need a fair amount of information before they decide to hire you,
but on your business card is not the place to put it.
Sin #12: Your odd-size card doesn’t fit into business card holders. In an
effort to stand out from the crowd, some lawyers use cards of unusual sizes.
True, this makes you different, but not always in a positive way.
Sin #13: You give your toll-free number to everyone. When you print your
toll free number on your card, you’re inviting the world to use it. Consider
printing only your local phone numbers on your business card. Then, when you
want someone to have your toll-free number, write it on the back. The person
receiving it will think he’s special -- and you have much tighter control over
who uses your toll-free line.
Sin #14: You put too little information on your business card. Prospects
and clients may prefer to reach you in different ways. One may like e-mail;
another may want to send a fax. When you give prospects and clients different
ways of contacting you, you’re more likely to offer a method that’s within your
prospect’s comfort zone.
Sin #15: Overall, your card is too much. For a dignified, professional image,
aim for a card that is quiet and understated. When a client hands your card
to a prospect, in one second your prospect draws conclusions based on what he
sees. That small piece of card stock projects the image, substance and depth
of your entire firm. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good business card.
When you want a new image for your law firm, make sure you hire a competent
commercial artist or designer. What your card says -- and how your card looks
and feels -- are too important for a do-it-yourself job.
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