Business cards are often the first impression on prospects. Like any first impression, a business card should stand out and differentiate your firm from competition.

An interesting business card shows a potential client that you pay attention to detail, have a creative eye and produce high-quality work—all the way down to your business cards. An eye-catching design that saliently communicates your brand and necessary contact information, paired with high-quality stock and interesting texture, can make all the difference in the world between a brand-new client or hire and radio silence.

Here are some creative ways to make your business cards stand out from the crowd.

1. Use a unique material

There are a million different types of paper out there, and yet most business cards use your standard white card stock. Try looking at heavier weights of paper that will make your card feel more stable (these are also easier to slide into a wallet and less likely to bend).

Consider textured papers as well. If your brand already leverages unique textures, bringing in these textures on one or both faces of your card is an excellent way to catch your audience’s attention.

Business cards have come a long way in recent years, and there are opportunities to go beyond paper, to plastic, cotton, wood, leather and even metal! Although a stretch for some, these alternative choices get noticed and remembered when they’re meaningful. For example, an alternative material card could make sense for a construction company that builds with the very material that’s chosen.

2. Add some color

Look at different colors, too! White isn’t the only option. Papers come in a variety of colors, and a subtle brand pattern can be just the trick to elevate your card to the next level.

Another idea is to sandwich two or three different colored papers together. You can create a heavier weight card with a different colored front and back, or even create a border with an accent-colored paper in the middle of two non-accent colors.

3. Create texture through technique

Humans are tactile creatures, so adding texture to your business card with unique papers (#1) or through printing techniques can really elevate the design.

Embossing your company logo on the back of the card or using letterpress engraving are great ways to make your card feel different in the hands of a prospect and stand out against smoother cards. You can literally add another dimension to your cards through 3D design with elements such as subtle 3D texture, raised logos or text, or even a card that folds. Test these new techniques on a smaller batch of cards first before mass printing to ensure the new texture is what you intended.

4. Try a different shape or dimension

All business cards don’t have to be the standard 3.5” x 2” rectangle. Add a rounded edge, experiment with a square card, or create a completely custom shape. The shape could be a cutout or punched out to give it a textured edge. Bonus points if you can incorporate the shape of the company’s logo or an element of the brand.

Stay on brand

Whichever route you go, unique elements should be purposeful and connect to elements of your brand and/or your industry. Your cards should come across as well thought out, professional and clever, as opposed to confusing or excessive. Being creatively on-brand in order to make the right impact will justify a higher-priced card and will ultimately pay off.

Keep in mind that your business card needs to serve the purpose of clearly providing contact information. Legible typography with a clear color and hierarchy of content should be a given, and any creative touches should support this content instead of distract. With the right touches to your business card that are clean, creative, and convey your brand will leave a lasting impression on those prospective clients and employees that receive it.