Business card translation, typesetting and printing for Asia.
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international-business-card-design-tips

Your business card is your brand. It’s a simple, yet effective tool for networking. These days, this simple tool is being used internationally more and more to build client contacts in a variety of countries. With so many style choices out there, it’s easy to overlook some basic rules when designing international business cards.

First and foremost, when creating business cards to use both here and abroad, it’s important to keep it simple. Understand that many people who may be viewing your business card may not be fluent in English, and/or use English as a second language. Thus, the most effective message is one that actually reaches its target. Keep this in mind and avoid these top five mistakes when designing your international business card.

1. Your Company Logo

Ensure that your company logo is clear and well displayed on your business card layout. This seems like it goes without saying, but we often see many logos that are too small, low quality, or not included at all on cards created for the overseas market.

We often get asked if the colors red and/or gold should be used for Chinese business cards, and whether a company logo should be altered to include red or gold colors. The short answer is: No. Your company logo is your brand. For branding purposes alone, your company logo should be left as-is. In most cases, any text found within this logo should also be left as-is. There are certain literal tag lines such as “Since 1925″ that can be translated, but in most cases, it’s best to leave your logo exactly as-is, even on translated business cards.

2. Select a Clean Font

This could be the most important tip of this list. Again, when using business cards overseas, many of the recipients may use English as a second language. Thus, your business card is not the area to display your key contact information in a highly stylistic or unusual font. This is the time to select a clean, clear, legible serif or sans-serif font, and suppress the feeling of mixing too many different typefaces on the same card. In fact, the most effective international business cards are those which use a single font family, with a variety of weights. For example, in the sample image with this article, the font here is simply Myriad. However, the same font is used here with varying weights for style. (“John Smith” is in Myriad bold, where as the content is in Myriad light, etc.) This still provides enough variety and options to keep things creative, but reduces the clashing of typefaces that may not work together or be difficult to read for your international audience.

Font sizing is also extremely important. For example, when creating business cards for Asia, Asian fonts will be matched in size accordingly. Thus, for style, if one creates a business card that is to small to be read in English, it will be doubly difficult to read complex strokes and characters in Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Therefore, a general rule is that it’s best to avoid font sizing below 6pt for all content, with the ideal size being 8pt or above.

3. ‘USA’ and the ‘+1′ Telephone Country Code

For your mailing address, when using business cards internationally, it looks sloppy to not include your country or telephone country code on your business card. The addition of “USA” is simple, but often overlooked. For any telephone number within the USA, the proper way to add a country code is “+1″ and then the standard number. Often times we see the incorrect usage of “001″ or other variants along these lines, but these are not ideal. The unformed global standard is simply “+1″.

4. Don’t Forget the Negative Space

When creating business cards for international use, many clients try to cram as much information on a single side of the card as possible. This not only makes the card difficult to read, it often results in font sizes being too small, and/or text being too condensed to be read (see #2 above.)

Think of your business card as a small advertisement for your company. You want this “ad” to have enough information for someone to keep your card, but you don’t want it to be too busy and quickly discarded. Balance in design is the key, and it all begins with the negative space.

Another reason that negative space is highly important in international business card design, is that when translating your business card, you can use this negative space to accommodate any potential “translation expansion.” What is translation expansion? That’s the length of text that expands when your English message is translated into a variety of languages. Some target languages are about the same length as English, but other lines of text will need more space on your card for the exact same meaning. For example, Spanish or Russian text often runs 20-30% longer than the equivalent text in English. Thus, when creating the English version of your business card, if your cram in the text and barely make it fit into the standard sized business card, this will be a problem when you ultimately translate your business card. Be sure to keep an adequate amount of negative space (or “whitespace”) on your card. Balance is the key.

5. Professionally Translate & Typeset your Business Card on the Back

Why waste an entire back side of your business card by leaving it blank? For international use, it’s an enormous benefit to your message to have your business card professionally translated and typeset into the target language for the country you are visiting. Especially in Asia, business cards are a representation of the person. Translating your business card into Japanese for example, can have a huge impact on the success of your first impression at your business meeting.

What about Google Translate? Well, if you have a single literal word, google translate can a great tool. But even then, how do you get that printed properly without Asian font issues, etc? How do you know it’s correct? Can you match the font and typeset your card so it keeps the same consistent look and design as your English original? This is where the professionals come in.

Stick with a company that specializes in not only business card translation, but one that has the fonts and typeface capabilities for non-latin characters needed for Japanese business cards, Chinese business cards and Korean business cards. These languages use character sets unlike English, and require font and typesetting professionals that need to apply unique rules for each target language. Insist that the company you select only uses professional native-language speaking translators to translate all material on your next set of international business cards.

mississippi

A recent article from the Clarion Ledger helps to show just how important Japanese business cards are to expanding any global business presence.

After lawmakers in Mississippi passed an economic incentives package to lure the Yokohama Tire company to expand its production facility to their state, the last step of the plan was to beat out 3,000 other sites for the plant. Thus, economic advisors and top government officials focused on Japanese business culture—namely the exchange of gifts, cultural sensitivity in business meetings, and of course Japanese business cards.

Japanese business culture is very formal and intricate, Bryant and Christensen said, and after years of dealing with Nissan and Toyota, Mississippi leaders have learned many lessons. Such as how to handle a business card. “When you exchange Japanese business cards, it should be handed so your name is facing them,” Bryant said. “And you never take their business card and just stick it in your pocket. At the meeting, the cards are arranged on the table, in order of people’s authority, the individuals at the table.”

Acknowledging the importance of Japanese business card translation helped Mississippi attract new jobs and business to their state. In this global economy, small but key gestures like business card translation are crucial when attempting to expand your global business reach to countries like Japan, China and Korea.

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When planning a business trip overseas, the most basic and essential tool in your arsenal is your business card. In preparation for your trip, it’s a good idea to have your business card professionally translated and printed in the specific target language of the region you are visiting. Ideally, one should have English on one side, and the translated target language on the other.

However, we often get asked about international business card sizing. Will a standard (2” x 3.5”) US-sized business card work overseas? Will sizing be different? What are the typical sizes (and aspect ratios) for international business cards? Well, hopefully this blog post will assist you.

Q: Will a standard (2” x 3.5”) US-sized business card work overseas?

A: Certainly. Even though business cards are a slightly different size in foreign countries, many are very close to US-sizing. US-sized business cards will work just fine overseas.

Q: Will sizing be different?

A: Yes, but only slightly. Each country has different standard sizing for business cards. Some countries have sizing that is literally different by only one millimeter. Thus, feel confident that your US-sized business cards will be fine for use in international markets. One does not need to custom print business cards in foreign size specifications for use overseas.

Q: What are the typical sizes (and aspect ratios) for international business cards?

A: Since we specialize in Asian business cards, here is a list of the standard business card sizing and aspect ratios for countries in Asia:

Chinese business cards:

Size: 3.543” × 2.125” (90mm × 54mm); Aspect Ratio: 1.667

(This applies to China, Hong Kong, Singapore)

Japanese business cards:

Size: 3.54” × 2.165” (90mm × 55mm); Aspect Ratio: 1.636

Korean business cards:

Size: 3.54” × 2.165” (90mm × 55mm); Aspect Ratio: 1.636

USA Business Cards:

Size: 3.5” × 2” (88.9mm × 50.8mm); Aspect Ratio: 1.75

In summary, you will be perfectly fine bringing your US-sized business cards overseas to China, Japan or Korea. There are subtle differences in business card sizing by comparison, but these differences will not convey any negative connotations when exchanging business cards in Asia.

Fred Bennett, the owner of Nelson’s Brewers bar and restaurant in New Zealand, launched his restaurant and soon started serving Thai food to cater to the Thai community in his area.

After hiring a Thai chef, his chef suggested a new name for his restaurant in Thai that translated to “Welcome and see you again” in English. Bennett liked the idea, had a new sign crafted with the Thai translation he was provided, and all was well…or so he thought.

After a few months, he wondered why there were no members of the Thai community dining at his restaurant. Well, his questions were soon answered when his Thai chef was replaced by a new one. The new Thai chef pointed out that his sign (written only in Thai) did not say “Welcome and see you again” at all in English. The direct English translation was “Go Away and Don’t Come Back.”

This is why no matter how big or small the project, one must always use a professional translation agency. Even a project that appears small, such as dual-sided bilingual business cards, a translation blunder like this can obliterate any chance for a successful first impression in business.

Bennett has since changed the name of his restaurant to “Victory Thai” in hopes of reestablishing his roots in the Thai community. However, the damage has already been done. Bennett went on to say, “That’s why it pays to do research” and we couldn’t agree more.

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PHOTO: Fred Bennett stands outside his Thai restaurant formerly known as ‘Go Away and Don’t Come Back’

wagaya

Business cards are an inexpensive and highly effective marketing tool. However, as quickly as business cards can be used to assist in networking, they can also be just as quickly discarded if the card lacks any reason to get the individual noticed. There are many ideas such as unique colors, business card translation, or creative designs that can really make a positive impression. Thus, we’ve created some simple tips and ideas to bring your business card to the next level.

Use Appropriate Graphics For your Industry

It’s important for your business card to be creative, however, know your industry. A whimsical or playful business card design may not appeal to those in the banking industry. Thus, one should play to the strengths of their business. For more reserved businesses, apply clean but creative uses of typography or upgraded card stocks instead of zany colors. For more creative businesses like web design, the sky’s the limit. Use designs that offer an impact, or even die cuts and/or plastic materials that will really make the very shape and texture of your card stand out.

Don’t Waste The Back of Your Business Card

Instead of leaving the back of your business card blank, utilize that space! An impressive way to get noticed and potentially draw in more business is you have your business card translated. Even if you do not speak a foreign language, you may serve a community that does. For example, a retail establishment near Japan Town could benefit from having Japanese business cards translated and printed on the back. The same could hold true for Chinese translated business cards serving the Chinese community, and so on. This gives you the option to present your card with the translated side up, simply to get people talking. It also gives your business a professional global feel to leave a positive impression on your potential clients.

Sometimes Less Is More

Since business card real estate is limited, many people try to cram as much information as they can onto the face of the card, thinking they are doing themselves a favor. Rethink this. If your office has two locations, and you want to include both full mailing addresses, along with your cell, fax, main, direct, BB, skype, web site, company name, tag line and logo, you’re going to have an incredible amount of information to fit in a small space. What does that mean? Usually this will translate to font sizes so small that they are nearly illegible. In most cases, try to avoid font sizes below 7pt in size. Also, negative space around your logo is important as well. It assists for branding to make your company image clear and clean. Thus, don’t have text running too close to your logo, and edit down personal information so that all text is clear and concise.

ExchangeVidCap

Once you create translated business cards for Japan, it’s important to know the cultural rituals that the Japanese admire when exchanging business cards. We have multiple articles on our web site to assist you, such as our Japanese Business Card Translation and Exchange Etiquette Guide. This is an excellent cheat sheet with tips that will no doubt impress your Japanese clients.

However, no matter how many articles we write on the proper etiquette and exchange of Japanese business cards, sometimes it just helps to have a video showing the exact and proper way to exchange business cards in Japan.

The YouTube video above gives shows examples of proper etiquette, along with some tips that will likely assist you.

The image below summarizes various business card sizes from around the world. This quick business card etiquette guide also includes some general hand placement tips for various countries when exchanging Japanese business cards, Chinese business cards, and Korean business cards. The subtle size differences between various international business cards are clearly marked in the graphic. Hand placement also differs greatly depending upon the country and general business card etiquette for each country.

international-business-card-size-and-aspect-ratios

Fred Bennett, the owner of Nelson’s Brewers bar and restaurant in New Zealand, launched his restaurant and soon started serving Thai food to cater to the Thai community in his area.

After hiring a Thai chef, his chef suggested a new name for his restaurant in Thai that translated to “Welcome and see you again” in English. Bennett liked the idea, had a new sign crafted with the Thai translation he was provided, and all was well…or so he thought.

After a few months, he wondered why there were no members of the Thai community dining at his restaurant. Well, his questions were soon answered when his Thai chef was replaced by a new one. The new Thai chef pointed out that his sign (written only in Thai) did not say “Welcome and see you again” at all in English. The direct English translation was “Go Away and Don’t Come Back.”

This is why no matter how big or small the project, one must always use a professional translation agency. Even a project that appears small, such as dual-sided bilingual business cards, a translation blunder like this can obliterate any chance for a successful first impression in business.

Bennett has since changed the name of his restaurant to “Victory Thai” in hopes of reestablishing his roots in the Thai community. However, the damage has already been done. Bennett went on to say, “That’s why it pays to do research” and we couldn’t agree more.

nz

PHOTO: Fred Bennett stands outside his Thai restaurant formerly known as ‘Go Away and Don’t Come Back’

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Business cards are part of your brand. They serve both as an inexpensive marketing tool and a way for you to provide your contact information to potential clients. When doing business overseas, this can be an opportunity to revamp your existing English business card into a new design that serves both your brand and your needs in China, Japan, Korea, etc. When having your business cards translated for Asia, there are additional items to consider which may or may not be unique to bilingual business cards.

Below is a list of tips to guide you when having your business cards translated:

1. Shape – For Asia, avoid using modern or highly unusual die cut business cards. It’s best to stick to the traditional rectangle shape and size.

2. Never hand write anything on your business card. All information should be printed, clean and legible.

3. Keep all information, (address, city, state) current and up to date on your business card.

4. For international use, do not forget to include the country on your mailing address. For example, always include “USA” at the end of your mailing address if you are located in the states, etc.

5. Always have your business cards professionally printed. Never print them at home, and never use pre-perforated business card templates. They are unprofessional.

6. You can lower your per-card costs by ordering large quantities of translated business cards at the time of printing.

7. Always have your business cards professionally translated. (Never use someone in the office who “knows a little Chinese” for example.) The translation is just one part of the process. A crucial, and often overlooked portion of the process, is professional typesetting.

8. For branding, stick with a clean and professional logo for your company. Never use unprofessional clip art.

9. Consider adding a QR code that links back to your company website. This is especially helpful to use on Japanese business cards.

10. For business card translation, it’s ideal to use two-sided business cards with English on one side and your target language on the back. Trying to add too much information on one side will be busy and/or make font sizes too small to be read.

11. Avoid trying to add multiple target languages on the same card. For example, if you’re traveling to Asia on business and will be heading to China and Japan, it’s not wise to include Japanese and Chinese on the same business card. Create separate translated business cards for each region you are visiting.

12. Glossy or UV coated cards can make a good impression based on certain card layouts.

13. For Chinese business cards, know your target language. If you are visiting China, you will want to use Simplified Chinese. If you are visiting Taiwan, you will want Traditional Chinese. Each are different for their particular regions. If you are visiting a region overseas and you are unsure of the correct target language, ask your professional translation agency doing your cards. They can assist you.

14. For Chinese business cards, you cannot use Mandarin or Cantonese for printing. These are the spoken versions of Chinese, not the written. See Tip #13 for more information.

15. Never fold or crease your business cards when distributing them in Asia. Ensure your cards are clean, crisp and professional, never folded.

16. If you desire specialized card stocks or inks, like linen stocks or raised ink, your professional translation agency translating and typesetting your business cards can often supply you with a press-ready PDF file of the Japanese, Chinese or Korean business card layout. Then you can submit this file to any specialized local printer.

17. For branding purposes, if your logo contains English text (for example, your company’s name) this text should not be translated. You can always add an additional line of text under the logo with the translated company name. But for branding, the logo should stay as-is.

18. Free email addresses should not be printed on your business card. It’s wise to invest in a professional web site and vanity URL for your business.

19. Always include your company’s web site URL on your business card. Email addresses and web site URLs are never “translated” they are listed as-is.

20. Any telephone numbers on your business card for Asia should be included as-is as Western numerals. For example, it’s not wise to “translate” telephone numbers into Chinese numerals or Japanese numerals. Always leave them as-is.

21. Keep fonts clear and concise to be read at smaller sizes.

22. Font selection is extremely important. The typography on your business card should match your business profession. If you are a graphic designer, then you are allowed some flexibility in using more whimsical fonts. However, if you are an attorney, your font selection should be a professional serif font choice, etc.

23. When translating business cards, a professional agency should match your fonts on the translated side of the card. For example, if fonts are bold on the English side, they should be bold on the Chinese side, and so on. This also applies to matching serifs and sans-serif fonts for the translated side of the card, etc.

24. Avoid using multiple fonts on your business card. For variations, it’s best to use multiple font weights within the same font family. For example, using Helvetica Light, Helvetica Bold, etc., is perfectly fine. However, it’s not wise to include multiple font families (different font names, etc.) on the same business card.

25. Double-check the spelling on your business card. A spelling mistake will be disastrous.

26. Always include social media links on your business card if you use them. This can be your company’s Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.

27. Don’t forget to add your Skype username on your business card if you need to connect with Asian clients overseas via Skype.

28. For international business cards, don’t forget to include the international country code in front of all telephone numbers. For example, (212) 555-1234 should read +1 (212) 555-1234 for a telephone number located in the USA. (The USA country code to add is always +1 in front of the area code.)

29. Decide whether you would like your company name translated at all on your card. For branding purposes, it’s often wise to leave this as-is in English. This is especially true for Chinese business cards which use characters that have both a phonetic and literal meaning.

30. Decide whether you would like your mailing address translated on your business cards. If you’re doing dual-sided Chinese business cards, for example, the translated mailing address on the Chinese side will allow your Chinese customers to quickly recognize the city/state in Chinese characters, and the English side can be used for actual mailing, etc.

Welsh_sign

Road Sign in Wales: English version is correct, but Welsh translates to “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.”

See anything odd about the sign above? Well, if you’re not a native Welsh speaker, you may not notice a thing. And, unfortunately for the transportation authority in Wales, they didn’t notice anything wrong either. All official road signs in Wales must be bilingual in both English and Welsh. So the local transportation authority would simply email their in-house speaker for any Welsh translations they needed. In this case, they simply needed the Welsh translation for “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only”, so they sent off an email to their in-house Welsh speaker. When they received the “translation” reply back via email, they simply went into production. No proofer, and not a single Welsh-speaker was asked to review the text before the sign went into production.

This is why it’s crucial to use a professional translation agency when translating documents into foreign languages. Many times, potential clients may mistakenly think that dual-sided bilingual business cards are small enough to where someone in the office “who knows a little Japanese or Chinese” can do the task. Ask yourself this: is it worth it? In the example above, cutting corners by not using a professional agency for translation and/or final proofing, not only cost the transportation authority in Wales quite a bit of embarrassment, it also cost them money. Now imagine if this is your first trip to China, Japan or Korea, and you think it will work to cut corners on translation costs for Japanese business cards, for example. Still think it’s worth it? The cost of an error on translated business cards, will far exceed the cost of creating translated business cards themselves. Thus, only select a company that used professional, native language-speaking translators on-staff, who can properly translate, typeset and proof your Japanese, Korean, or Chinese business cards, or business documents.