Portrait business cards, what do you think?

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logo and business card design

Portrait business cards are definitely less common (in my experience) than landscape cards, which in design is a good thing. After all, isn’t the idea to stand out from the crowd? But if this is the case why are there so few portrait cards?

Is it practicality? All rollerdex’s and business card folders are for landscape cards, is this why the majority of cards are landscape?

I’ve asked both colleagues out of curiosity and clients regarding their work in progress what their opinions on portrait cards are. The answer has always been somewhere between dislike and indifference. I’ve never had someone give portrait cards a solid thumbs up.

I’ve posted 20 or so portrait business cards here gathered from around the web, all of which are good designs, but why so few to choose from, what do you think?

logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design
logo and business card design

What are your thoughts?

Portrait business cards. Love em or hate em?


17 thoughtful comments on “Portrait business cards, what do you think?”

  1. Mathdelane says:

    Although these may look amazing and some are even stunning to some extent, I think business cards are somewhat expected to be minimalist in design and somewhat conservative looking.

    I can see that portrait cards standout from a deck of business cards, but it may look like an odd-one out. Don’t you think?

    If I had a card folder etc. and I saw one different, it might throw it away thinking that it was a badge detached from something I’d bought, unless the person who gave it was someone I knew well and it was easily recognisable.

    These are really great looking business cards though. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Andrew Keir says:

    Mathdelane,

    That’s the thing that’s always at the back of my mind also, 100 business cards in a folder with 1 odd portrait card.

  3. Melissa says:

    I’ve had a portrait style biz card for a few years and I always get great compliments on it. It’s also two sided, and people flip it right over, which I don’t remember people doing when I had a horizontal card…

  4. Great article Andrew.

    I do agree with all the comments left above, however I would say it is worth considering who the business card is for. It is important to not only have a business card which stands out, but also a business card which is appropriate.

    Portrait business cards are not for everyone and they do certainly stand out. Portrait cards should not simply be the same as landscape cards but in different dimensions, the different dimensions must be used more effectively to exploit the new layout.

    From what I have noticed in my experience and from your article, it does seem to me portrait cards are used by people in fields in or closely linked to marketing, communication and certainly design.

    Summing up, I like portrait business cards, I believe they are certainly more effective, but only if used effectively. It’s not just about turning the card around, but making use of the new layout.

    I have what is in my opinion a well designed and creative business card which does get a great response and if anything, the response is a bit too good as people sometimes find the creativity is too much and often I can lose simpler and easier marketing and creative opportunities.

    Kindest regards,

    Amar

  5. Andrew Keir says:

    Melissa,
    Flipping the card is an interesting observation.

    Amar,
    Thanks for your in depth reply, I’d be interested in seeing your business cards if you’d care to send me a picture.

  6. No problem, I’m expecting a new batch of cards to be delivered soon, where would you like me to send the card?

  7. Andrew Keir says:

    Amar,

    Sorry to take so long to reply. Busy moving house the last week. If you could send it to contact @ andrewkeir.com that would be fine, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  8. Andrew Keir says:

    business card design

    Thanks to Amar for taking the time to send me his business card, as shown above.

  9. Stuart says:

    I’m in the process of designing my card for letterpress production, at the last minute I realized that my card was portrait and that this cuts against the grain somewhat. I am an artist and not a graphic designer so that could explain my lack of attention to this detail!

    However the reason I was so blinkered in my use of a portrait layout, is that it’s relevant, even essential to the image (my logo). It also offers some consistency with regard to context as in my work I almost always work in this format.

    Thanks for the insight and confidence to go on and print in portrait!
    Stuart.

  10. Andrew Keir says:

    Stuart,
    Consistency is as good a reason as any to use a portrait card. Unity is an important factor in design and should compliment your work well.

    Feel free to send me your card If you’d like me to post it here.

  11. Gene says:

    Personally, I like portrait business cards and I don’t see why people wouldn’t want to go with them. Also these are really nice business cards, especially the Sakura Bloom one.

  12. Are they? I never really noticed, I just checked through my portfolio and quite a lot of mine are portrait actually.

    If they are less popular, the obvious reason is that it forces the designer to have the logo smaller within the design, in addition there can be space issues if the client has a long domain name – which then makes contact details ‘wide’.

    When I see a long domain name I feel sad inside, lol :)

  13. Andrew Keir says:

    Amanda,

    In my experience portrait cards are certainly less common. I’ve also found when presenting portrait business card designs to clients that they’re less popular than landscape orientation cards.

    Speaking of long domain names, do you think thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com gets much type-in-traffic? Ha.

  14. Rob says:

    I really like portrait business cards, our last cards were portrait and they were great… I think it really depends on what the information and probably more important the logo that will be used is all about… Some logos and chunks of copy just aren’t meant pt be portrait…

  15. Rachel says:

    Portrait cards can get a second glance – everything helps! – Portrait is nicer for space and in our case easier to read – I wonder though, can card readers recognise the data on a portrait card?

  16. Elissa says:

    I realise this is an old thread, but it especially caught my interest. I’ve always had landscape cards for my face painting business and just recently rebranded and and printed some new cards. My new cards are portrait/landscape – so the best of both worlds. I have had so many positive comments about my business cards like never before.

    Why did I design this way? The ‘front’ is portrait. The image of a painted face fills the entire area. Its main function is to look pretty and just show off some pretty face painting. It is clearly having the desired effect because whenever I hand them out I get “wow, what beautiful cards”. The only type on this side is the website which fits nicely at the bottom of the card.

    When you flip it over the full logo and details are arranged landscape. A little unconventional, I know, but it seems to be working. The extra twist of the card some may see as ‘too-much-effort’ but I like to think of it as ‘engaging’. At least it seems to be for me anyway.

    Landscape was a MUST for the back details. The logotype would look and feel ‘cramped’ if laid out in portrait and there is also a space for staff (contracted painters) to write their name when giving out cards, so they hand out my cards but get more business when a client requests them for a job (Less poaching of my clients that way). Not everyone has neat, small writing, so I figured giving them max real estate was essential.

    So, I guess in all that my point was – why just portrait or landscape – why not both?!

  17. Andrew Keir says:

    Comments are still always welcome on older posts, Elisa.

    You make all valid points in your comment. Handing over the card with the portrait photo is obviously a good tactic for you.

    I’d be happy to post a picture of your cards here if you’d care to photograph and email me a few pictures?


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