Business Card Crit

cslem1's picture

I am applying for an internship at my school designing misc. signage (for the most part). I am going in for an interview sometime this week, and they want to see a business card designed in their style. They sent me a a couple posters for examples of their style.

Poster 1

Poster 2

My Business Cards

I am just looking for any suggestions for improvements. I am looking for things such as:

Does the style match the posters?
Is the imformation easily readable?

Please feel free to be picky, I can take criticism. Constructive Criticism.

Sebastian Nagel's picture

"mirroring" seems to be some "common line" in their style.
you could try to integrate that more in your cards.

And: they never have information side by side, always top to bottom and hierarchically structured (the more to the bottom, the less important).

Considered to create a card in portrait orientation?

Try to explain your analysis and thoughts when presenting them. Say what you saw, and explain how this results in your cards. It's at least as important to show your ideas and thoughts as the cards themselves.

robbiefa's picture

A business card isn't a poster! It's really important to remember that when you want to design something that works. Remember to communicate the information first and foremost.

Most important… Keep it simple! Trying to cram images on doesn't work. I would suggest name (logo) on one side and details on the other. If you insist on putting an image on it, try keep it only on one side maybe with the logo.

Mirroring on a business card? It probably won't come out! As a good friend once said to me. Lets not jump up on the apple band wagon!!

David Ford's picture

I would go in there and tell them that their visual identity is hopelessly confused and dreary. They yearn to appear credible and authoritative but at the same time approachable and modern. The cliches have been chucked together with no real or deep thought as to what an identity is. This kind of thing depresses me.

having said that, your cards are neither here nor there. If you are attempting to replicate their style you should center the logo. You should use the correct colours. Use a gradient rather than flat. look at the space you have created - the middle one is crammed in the left and empty in the right. The vertical spacing on the other two needs a lot of work - the name on the third one is in danger of being guillotined and the first isn't much better. And I agree with the others about the use of imagery.

If you are trying to show them something new, well, you should depart much much further from where you are at the moment.

I don't want to sound like an arsehole but they need a lot of work - Learn to use white space, love white space, have white space's babies and breast-feed them till they're 17.

Chris Keegan's picture

Although what they have is pretty bad, going in there and telling them so won't score you any points. I would take the best element from that poster, which IMO is the blue bar with the type, and use only that on the cards. Drop the clip art people and skyline photo. Keep the information clean and easy to read. Also, whatever you show them, make sure the colors match what they have now. You might also try using that blue all over the card as another option, and reverse the type. I would also suggest you take a look at some good business card designs to get an idea of layout and arrangement of type. Good luck.

aluminum's picture

I'm not sure how much effort you want to put into pursuing an internship with a department that lacks style and asks interns to do spec work to get hired.

cslem1's picture

Thank you all for your advice! And yes, I agree with all of you that say this isn't exactly design agency professional work. BUT this is sadly the design style that curses many business' based in Microsoft word. Everyone has their own style. At the end of the day...the client is always right...what they like is what they want you to do...unless they ask for something different.

In this case, they specifically picked out 2 files to send me to show me their style. I could only imagine that they are not looking to change, and that they are happy.

Chris Keegan: Thanks a lot for your critique. I agree fully. That's the direction I was originally going to go...getting rid of the all the "graphics" and just use the logo and gradient reverse. I think they graphics are awful...but I was looking around campus, and at least these graphics are consistent, so they do serve as a sort of identity...sadly. I am a born minimalist...If I could get away with telling an entire story with 3 words...I would :D

Aluminum: I don't need this internship to learn about design, I've been an ad designer for over 2 years now. To me, it's more for the experience to work in different places doing different things before I graduate in December. As for the business card...I don't think they are actually going to use it. I don't think they can. I think they have to use the "UMBC BUSINESS CARD" and just have their department name on a specific part. So that's what leads me to believe this is more about seeing if they can find someone to match their card being the smallest, but most powerful way to see that, considering that it shows how you organize your information and how well you do with matching fonts/styles/colors.

But enough talk, I will be going back to my computer tonight to rethink this. haha. I should be going in for the interview sometime this week, so we'll see.

Thanks again!

cslem1's picture

Here are three versions. I used the the same type of information layout in the three.

The first vertical: I think this one mimics their style more so...but it's my least favorite of the three.

The second vertical: A bit more playful. Out of all of them, this would be my favorite. It sort of takes their style and uses it in a bit more elegant way, rather than making it look like it was done in Word.

The horizontal: The safest. It gets the job done, it get across the information and uses their "logo". Next to the posters, you'd be able to tell they are related. But it's too safe for my taste...almost too obvious of a solution. But who know, this might be the best out of them all.

I'd love to hear everyone's critiques on these cards. Suggestions are always welcome as well. Please constructive criticism.


robbiefa's picture

The client is always right I'm sorry but this is one thing I hate to hear. The client isn't always right! It is your job as a designer to show them that they are going in the wrong direction.

The best designers know how to communicate. They are willing to tell the client that they are wrong every so often. If the client doesn't want to listen it's their problem but at least voice your honest opinion; if you have one.

As for the business cards they are not the worst I have ever seen. Are they only going to be one sided?

I don't think you'll have any problem getting the job. The cards match the style exactly! Good luck!

cslem1's picture

"The cards match the style exactly!" not sure if that's an insult, haha. I'm just kidding, thank you, that's what I was going for, matching their style. And yes they are going to be one sided.


robbiefa's picture

I'm not sure if that was a insult myself… haha! :)

bobbybobo's picture

I agree with Robert.
Sure, the client pays the bills.
But there must be a reason they ask any of us to do the job:
because they think we can do better than they can!

I think your last posts are an improvement.

Perhaps you could finalize those and design some other more freely and tell them why.
The why is so important.

A good concept does half the job.

Good luck!

penn's picture

I like the second one the best of these second drafts. It has a nice stable flow of information and the graphic sits well at the bottom.

I can't stand clip art (in most forms) so number 1 is definitely out for me. Number 3 isn't bad, but as you say, it's rather an easy solution.

I like Bobby's idea of doing a couple "their" way and then maybe doing one or two other variations how you would do it. After all, I think that's what they want to get out of this anyway (your design sense).


aluminum's picture

"Aluminum: I don’t need this internship to learn about design, I’ve been an ad designer for over 2 years now. To me, it’s more for the experience to work in different places doing different things before I graduate in December."

I understand. I worked in-house design at college too. Wasn't the greatest for the portfolio, but was a fun gig and certainly gave me a lot of production experience.

I guess I'm saying that if you're fine with this, go for it, but if there are other intern options, I might put a bit more effort into getting the others instead. ;0)

Lantz's picture

My first freelance job was redesigning a cookie label on cellophane for a Turkish importer (to the US) of food products. The company that makes the cookies attempted to make the label in English too, but It was a lot like reading the packaging at a Chinese grocery store in the US. ("Horse Bean Snack Keep You Joyful Best!") His idea was that it needed to be "really classy".

For a hundred dollars, I probably spent 6 weeks going back and forth debating on what the cookie label should look like. In the end it was probably a lot better than if he had simply said "perfect" from the start.

If it is an internship, while you shouldn't fight your way around, they clearly aren't buying your silence. If they want unpaid help from someone who is studying design, they should be willing to hear your ideas in between runs for coffee at the good coffee place.

The new ideas are better... but what happened to the navy?

cslem1's picture

Just wanted to update. I got the job! They are indeed trying to renew their identity, which is a big sigh of relief. So I will indeed be helping with that. I will also be designing an identity for some organization outside of the university, which is always good. And I will be designing all the materials for special events on campus. Oh and post-it notes, they specifically said they wanted post-it notes. haha. So the job seems to be coming with a lot more perks than I originally thought. Thanks a lot to everyone here.


robbiefa's picture

Hey Courtney, congrats on the job and best of luck! :)

bobbybobo's picture

Courtney, congratulations!

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