Vertical or Horizontal: Does Business Card Orientation Impact Customer Impressions?

January 28, 2015

Business card art by Dennis McGregor and design by Ideas to Inks’ Sally Sundsten for Heartwood Forest Contracting; Back of business card design by AccessoryMU for Schubros Brewery

Business cards are more than simple information pieces; they can be powerful branding and marketing tools when your design differentiates you from the competition and lends an impression of quality. When I recently designed new personal business cards for 2015, I wondered whether business card orientation impacts customer impressions. Do horizontal business cards designs influence customers to call, or do vertical business cards hold more sway? Is there even a difference? To my disappointment, diligent Google searches yielded no usable data – I’m a bit surprised no one has published research seeking to measure the impact of horizontal versus vertical layouts in business card design. In fact, I found very little research comparing horizontal versus vertical design at all, save from many opinions on webpage layouts. I was left with little recourse but to make assumptions concerning the pros and cons of horizontal versus vertical business card design. Here are the assumptions I made:

Pros of horizontal business card design

  • Horizontal design is more conventional – it’s what people are used to, so they can digest information at a glance
  • Horizontal business cards display well in business card organizers and Rolodexes
  • Horizontal business cards won’t be questioned – that is to say, your company won’t seem gimmicky to potential customers

Cons of horizontal business card design

  • Horizontal business card designs have to work harder to stand out from competitors – they’re not inherently different

Pros of vertical business card design

  • Vertical design can differentiate you from competitors with horizontal business cards
  • Vertical business cards can enhance your branding by symbolizing your unique position in the marketplace
  • Vertical business card can attract customers seeking something new and unique

Cons of vertical business card design

  • Vertical designs can be seen as gimmicky by some customers who expect traditional layouts
  • Vertical business cards typically lay sideways in business card organizers and Rolodexes

So, which is better: horizontal or vertical business card design? Unfortunately, I have no idea; though I suspect the answer ultimately depends on your field, your brand, and your audience. Still, I haven’t found any research to suggest that one orientation actually yields better results than the other, no matter the field or audience. Ultimately it’s up to you to determine which design orientation best fits your brand – or, you might even choose one orientation for the front of your business card and another for the back. For my part, I chose a vertical orientation for my business card’s latest incarnation. Are your business cards vertical or horizontal? Why did you choose that orientation? Let us know in the comments!

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

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The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.