Gift Card Design Recommendations

This article is intended primarily for those who first make a gift card layout. In it, we will talk about the technical intricacies that the designer has to look back on in this case, as well as what consumers expect from gift cards.

Consumer expectations

Before you design a gift card, it’s helpful to think about who will buy it and why. A study conducted in 2009 in Moscow (“Boom Gift Cards: Examining Sales Channels and Consumer Preferences”) shows that in our country they are purchased mainly for colleagues and business partners. For this reason, people usually expect from cards of a solemn and solid look, and playful motifs in the design are considered inappropriate. The only exception to this rule cards for things that are not customary to give to colleagues, such as underwear or children’s toys.

The same requirements are added to the packaging design for gift cards plus one more requirement – convenience. “Convenient” in this case means “something that fits easily into a handbag, but will not get lost in it.” The study to which we referred above, the most appropriate packaging for a gift card is a postcard.

The last requirement for a gift card design is the last one in order, but not in order of importance – it should be informative. The buyer wants the design of the gift card to immediately understand what and where it can be exchanged. The simplest way to tell him about it is to indicate directly on the map the addresses of the stores where they accept it. This method, however, is not suitable for multi-brand cards, as well as for large retail chains: there is not enough space on the card for a variety of addresses and logos. In such cases, it is better to write about the shops on the package or attach a booklet with the rules of use to the gift card.

Production features

Now, having decided on the concept, we will proceed to the design of the gift card itself. In developing it, you also have to take into account a lot of subtleties – this time technical.

So, the same requirements apply to the design of the gift card as to the design of calendars or business cards. It should be presented as a vector format file, in the CMYK color model, with all the labels converted into curves. The representation of the image in raster form is permissible, but its resolution must be at least 300 dpi.

The error when cutting the gift card is about 2 mm. Such inaccuracy is imperceptible in itself but distorts the printed image, so it has to be taken into account in the design. The design layout should be made larger than the size of the proposed map (the generally accepted format is 90 × 57 mm), leaving the background and other elements beyond its borders uncircumcised. In addition, it is better to abandon frames, strips and other straight lines located close to the edge: they emphasize the error of cutting.

Features of use

The last thing that limits the designer when designing gift cards is the peculiarities of their use. These cards are designed to work at the checkout, so they always have something that is read automatically – a bar code, magnetic tape or embossed inscriptions in the embossing technique. In order for these elements to work properly, they must be placed according to certain standards.

First of all, you need to consider that the size of the gift card is standardized. It should be a rectangular plate with sides of 85 × 55 mm and a thickness of not more than 0.76 mm. Cards of a different format are simply inconvenient, and sometimes impossible to use at the box office.

The magnetic stripe should be placed along the long side of the gift card (at the top or bottom – it does not matter) at a distance of 4 mm from the edge. The height of the strip itself is also standard – 12.7 mm. The image or text must be at least 2 mm away.

Embossing also can not touch the magnetic strip. When designing a gift card, it is best to place it at the bottom of the gift card, at a distance of 3-5 mm from the edge. In this case, the relief inscription cannot be superimposed on the image or text.

The bar code is well read only when it is located on a contrasting light background. Under it, you will have to leave a white window if the design of the gift card provides for a dark or very bright background. The width of such a window should be 3–4 mm greater than the width of the bar code itself, and the height should be 1–2 mm.