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The Great Two-Sided Business Card Debate


A business card is one of the most important marketing pieces that you'll develop for your company, since it is typically the first piece of your marketing materials that a new client will see.

One of the most debated points in business card design is whether to print information on just one side of the card or to use both sides. There are many views on this controversy, and here are some that we frequently hear.

The arguments for keeping the back of the card blank are that printing on both sides has the following disadvantages:

  • Not having a space to take notes while networking: Many business people use a system of writing notes on the backs of the business cards they receive while networking. They do this to remind themselves of the commitments they made or to later jog their memories about the conversation. Too much printing on the back can make this difficult or impossible. Glossy coatings on the backs of cards can also prevent note writing.
  • Rolodexes, business card filing systems, and card scanners: These are widely used in business today, and many models don't allow for the back of the card to be viewed. For this reason, you should not put vital information on the back, so that the card can still be functional when only one side is visible. Also, if your prospect uses a business card scanner to store business cards, they might not scan both sides.
  • Greater printing expense: Printers charge more to print a two-sided card, because of the additional work and ink involved.
  • Ink smearing: Some inks are more likely to smear or rub off on neighboring sheets of paper than others; for example, blue Pantone inks are especially prone to this effect. If you do choose a two-sided card with a field of color on the back, then it is best to also varnish or clear-coat the back of the card in order to seal the color in and prevent this. The varnish also adds drying time and expense to the project.

The arguments for putting information on both sides are that you can use the back to:

  • Add more information: If you have a lot of contact information, putting it all on to the front of the card will often make the font too small and the text too dense to read comfortably. Putting some of that information on the back will free up the front of the card and make it look better.
  • Make your business card more valuable: By including interesting information like a calendar of events, tip, or quote on the back, you can make your card more likely to be kept. Other things that you can put on the back include coupons, appointment information, or directions to your store or office.
  • Enhance your brand: The back of the card is often the perfect place for graphical treatments and pieces of your Visual Vocabulary.
  • Maximize your message: Use the back to add more information about your business. It might not be clear to everyone receiving your card what you offer, so you might try listing that on the back.

And it might not cost that much. Some printers will print a two-sided card for as little as $20 extra per 1000 cards. In that case, the low price for additional "real estate" really makes it worth the cost.

With all of these points in mind, the most effective card for small businesses is often a two-sided card. The next question to address is what to put on the back of the card. We recommend:

  • Not putting vital information on the back of the card: Since the back of the card might get hidden or ignored in a filing system, it's best to put all of the most important information—like your name, logo, phone number, email, and website—on the front of the card. If you have a physical office, you should also make sure that your address is on the front of your card.

    So what's left to put on the back? You could put your tagline, a couple of lines that explain your offerings, a list of your services, or a short testimonial. Or try one of the suggestions from "Make your business card more valuable," above.

  • Try graphics: You can print a field of color, small graphic, or a simple pattern on the back. A card with graphics on the back looks more sophisticated and high-end, and is more memorable as well. If you don't print in a color that is too dark and you use a solid color field, people will still be able to take notes on the back of the card. Just don't forget the varnish!

If you use these tips, you'll be able to maximize the effectiveness of your business card. Your card will go from being just a thing to hand out when you meet someone to being a strong marketing tool.

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About the Author

Erin Ferree is a branding coach, design genius and strategic thinker. She's been told that her right-brain, left-brain combination of creativity and logic is hard to come by... and that it's what small business owners need to be successful. She loves connecting the dots between passion and profit, mixing strategy and inspiration and shaking things up.

She deeply enjoys working with entrepreneurs who want to help more people and look good doing it. Who want all of their branding and marketing to make sense and speak to their ideal clients. And who want an open, honest, inviting brand with integrity - instead of using icky, pushy, sleazy marketing tactics and trickery.

She's branded over 450 small businesses in the last 10 years. She's been published in so many books and periodicals that she stopped counting. She's shared stages with some awesome people - like Michele PW, Linda Hollander, Lisa Cherney, Sheri McConnell and Kelly O'neil.

She also enjoys hugging her corgi-dog Stanley, cooking and throwing parties so her friends can enjoy them.

Small business branding, brand coaching and logo design articles at

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