In the world of branded business items, nothing is more basic than the business card. In fact, many entrepreneurs believe their company is not legit until a business card has been created. Another fundamental – though often neglected – branding opportunity is the email signature, a sort of electronic business card, if you think about it.

Let’s get started. Follow these steps to create your masterpieces:

Business Cards

  • Decide what info must be included. Resist the urge to put too much on there, or readability will be compromised. You need your name, your position, your contact information (office phone, mobile phone, email) and the physical address of your office.
  • Chose a photo. If you will have a photo of yourself on the card, make it memorable by using a circle frame or alternate format. Many people skip the personal photo and use the company logo instead.
  • Consider the flipside. Do you want to include information on the back side? Lots of business professionals like to leave it blank so notes can be written there. Others choose to include an appointment form or other functional feature.
  • Think about weight and shape. Square cards and those with unusual features are cool and memorable. However, they usually don’t fit in standard wallet pockets or business card holders. You don’t want people to throw the card away because they have no convenient place to put it. Having the cards printed on the heaviest stock you can afford will set it apart from other cards in a memorable way that doesn’t annoy people.
  • Consider design. You want the overall feel of the card to match the rest of your branded collateral. The logo, color scheme and general theme should be consistent with your company identity. The text should be in a readable typeface and size. Resist the urge to use flowy or stylized text; it could work against you.

Email Signatures

  • Decide what info must be included. Try to limit the number of lines to five, and don’t include the email address. Obviously, if you are sending an email and using the signature, the address is included. You could use name, title, office address, website URL and phone number.
  • Include a photo or logo. People like to put a face with a name, and because email is less personal than an in-person meeting, the signature is an ideal place to include a photo of you. At the very least, you should have your company logo there.
  • Consider the typeface. Just like with business cards, you want the text to be readable. You might choose to include color, but skip the flowy fonts.
  • Include links. Make sure the line that lists your company website includes a hyperlink. People may want to familiarize themselves with your business after receiving correspondence from you, so make it easy for them to get to your site.

Business cards and email signatures are two fundamental opportunities for you to make statements about your company. Professionally designed collateral will make a lasting impression on those who receive it, so take the time to plan it carefully.