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If you've been searching around for business cards that will best represent the image you want to portray for your business, then you've no doubt encountered many options. The Big Two, as I like to think of them, are "Raised Letter" and "Full Color."
What are the differences in raised letter and full color business cards? What are the price differences? What looks best for how I want to represent my business? These are all questions I hear on a daily basis.
1. The difference between Raised Letter and Full Color printing is in how the ink is applied to the card stock. Thermography is the type of printing that produces ink that stands up off the page slightly. When you run your fingers across the surface, you can feel the printing on the stock. Each color that is printed has a separate plate, and the cards have to be run through the press for each color chosen. These types of cards have a very elegant and refined look about them, especially if the colors and stocks chosen are complimentary. There are hundreds of varieties of stocks and inks to choose from.
Full Color printing is much like printing from your ink jet printer at home. All the inks are printed on the page at the same time, and combined to create hues, shades--photo images. So, one run through and the cards are printed. These cards have been traditionally used by real estate agents, insurance agents and the like. But now, with this type of printing becoming more affordable and available, anyone can choose this option. These designs most of the time seem jazzier, sharper, more upbeat.
2. The cost difference is an oddity. Spot printing (the process of laying the colors on one at a time, as in Raised Letter cards), can be much cheaper--if only one color or black is chosen. White plate (65 lb stocks) will be cheaper than a cordwain or linen. But, if you start adding more colors (equals more time through the press) then you'll start racking up the cost. If your colors touch each other (called registration--the printer must make sure the cards run through correctly) then you'll tack on some extra expense there.
If you have a full color logo, the least expensive way to go would be with full color (process printing). But, you generally have to get a minimum of 1000. You can get 250 from some places, but you'll pay about the same price. It's the setup fee from the printer that is the biggest expense. Printing them is the cheap part, which is why the more you get, the better the price.
3. To choose the look that's right for you, I would think first about the image you are projecting for your company. Are you a doctor? You probably would rather have a classier linen stock with black and gold inks. Same for lawyers and other professionals. A handsome bordeaux (burgundy) on grey fiber stock would speak volumes about your professionalism. The raised letter would add to the expensive feel. There is really no need to add more than 1 color and black in printing raised letter cards. If that's the way you're heading, then you probably have a flashier business image and would need full color cards. A doctor or lawyer is usually using cards to provide clients with contact information, not get more business.
Full color is proven to get a 30% better response rate than regular printing, but this is only a bonus if your business aims to use the business cards to get more business. If you sell a product, using full color cards would be a brilliant idea--you can have a photo of it right on the cards. If you're in a service industry like real estate, you'll want your prospects to remember your face. Add your professionally taken photo to your cards. If you're trying to express a concept of what you can do for customers, then finding the right stock photo image can speak thousands of words with just one image!
In reality, cost usually dictates the biggest part of your decision making process. However, I would caution you to consider your IMAGE first. You might find that if you choose the card that has the best representation of your image, the cost ends up being less than if you choose the wrong one.
About The Author
Business card designer, Mitoné Cooke, specializes in full color business card designs at her website http://drbusinesscards.com. You can also give her a call at 1-800-431-3407 to order raised letter cards! Mitoné can be reached by email at email@example.com. Sign up for the free e-newsletter about Business Card Marketing by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.