Dwyer says smaller runs almost always entail greater involvement by his company in card designs. “That’s because most design agencies aren’t as well versed in what works with card design, both aesthetically and functionally.”
He recalls a bank customer that wanted a four-color vignette on the back of a card that would have called for such close registry and color consistency that it would have been very expensive across the run. “We persuaded the client that a simple, one-color grey scale would work just as well in terms of visual appeal.”
A common mistake is placing too many branding elements on a gift card, Dwyer adds. “Cards are a small medium, and it takes a good eye for design to know how much visual information they can contain without getting cluttered and losing effect.”
Good design also closely ties in with card security. For example, CPI recently developed a four-color card for Visa with an intricate, 3D aspect area.
“It’s very distinctive and adds a unique identifier that enhances security because it’s hard to duplicate or counterfeit,” Dwyer says, adding that security features should be relatively overt. “Keep in mind that the last ‘head of security’ you have is the retail clerk who’ll be looking at the holograms or ultraviolet coatings and markings you’ve put on.”
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 has also affected design—sometimes in surprising ways. “It used to be that cards would expire after two or three years,” says Falk. “Now, under the CARD Act, it’s five. But we changed our program to seven years. Because of that, we’ve been able to take advantage of provisions in the CARD Act that allow for certain disclosures to not have to be made on the front end of the card. This allows us to avoid what we see as a disruption of the actual card design.”
The Members Group used this opportunity to change its card design completely and introduce a design that’s new to the market: a vertically oriented card front (at left), as opposed to horizontal or landscape style.
“Consumers see the design as unique and different,” Falk says, “which inspires them to buy it. It makes for good show-and-tell afterwards.”
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