We all like to cut financial corners sometimes, especially in tight economic times. However, at what point does it start to work against you or even damage your brand image or business? I will use a company’s business card as an example to tackle this question. What is a cheap business card? Well, if you are only spending $20 (where there has been little, if any, thought put into the design), then you can consider this cheap.

First impressions are critical. You want it to be a good one. Ever receive a flimsy handshake? Not good, right? Ever had a bad first date or met the parents-in-law for the first time, and you called them by the wrong name? First impressions last, sometimes forever.

As a business owner, you want the person receiving your business card to have a particular impression of your company. Design, paper choice, and the type of printing all add to this feeling. For example, if the paper is too thin, it can communicate that you “cheaped-out” are inexperienced or unprofessional. If you are a public company or government agency, you will not want to give the impression that you are spending all the investor’s money on “fancy” stationery and design. Therefore, you may want to avoid using a thick paper for your business cards.

Getting your cards to deliver the desired experience is a delicate balance. It is in your best interest to hire a certified trained professional to bring their years of experience to solving your communication and design problems. A trained graphic designer will understand your required needs and will know how to express them in a way that resonates with your target audience.

Where and how you have your card printed also leaves an impression. The worst thing you can do as a business owner is to print your business cards on your office printer. It communicates that you are not going to make that extra effort to ensure a good client/customer experience and that you “cheaped-out.” I strongly recommend that at the bare minimum, you use a company like Clubcard or Jukebox Printing where you can get good quality cards for a reasonable price. Ideally, hire a printer (or have your graphic designer co-ordinate this on your behalf) where you have total control over all specs such as colour, paper choice, and an array of finishes (like rounded corners, embossing, different varnishes, this list goes on).

To answer the initial question, “does a cheap business card cheapen your brand?” I would, very loudly, say, “YES.” As a person’s experience of your company is essentially your brand, if you economize too much on your business card (or any other area of your business) then, yes, it will cheapen your brand. Since one of your potential customers’ first impressions of your company will be your business card, MAKE SURE it’s a good one.