Michael Collins has been called “the loneliest man in the universe”, a reference to the time he spent orbiting the moon while the other two crew members of the mission spent time on the lunar surface. As Collins craft went around the far side of the moon, he was further away from any other human being than any human had ever been.
When it comes to the comparatively boring subject of photo ID, we discover a (slight) similarity: the printed elements have lots of company on one side of the card, while the back remains an unoccupied, empty area full of potential. Each plastic ID card has a fixed area of real estate of 54 x 86 millimeters on each side of the card, but often only 50% of the available area is actually used.
What kind of valuable information can be displayed on the back side of the card?
Although you may be tempted to write “If lost, please return to….”, don’t.
You should say “If found, please return to…”. Lost cards can’t be returned anywhere since they are... lost.
You may also want to include some contact information. Loyalty and Membership cards sometimes have phone numbers or websites that direct cardholders to additional helpful information.
You can also put something generic such as “To verify the cardholders identity, please call 1-800-xxx-xxxx and provide the Card Number.”
Sometimes there is just not enough room on the front of the card to display all the necessary information. As a general rule, only put information on the card that can be verified visually, and only put information on the back of the card if it is of secondary importance.
It may be worth speaking with a major advertiser in your area to see if they want to “buy” the real estate on the back of the card. Charging $0.25 per card for advertising may pay for the cost of the card and take some pressure off your operating budget.
Remember, the plastic card you issue is the one piece of your organization that the cardholder takes with them everywhere, and they see your branding on it frequently. There’s a reason why financial institutions coined the term “top of wallet” in their attempts to be the most prominent and widely used card.
We never read them because they are too long. But what if you could condense the relevant terms to a couple of lines? The back of the card is great place to put T&C, and create awareness.
Magnetic stripes, barcodes and signature panels all belong on the back of the card. They take up a lot of space, and are best suited for those wide open areas. Often, card numbering is printed onto the back of the card along the bottom edge.
The purpose of a security feature (like a hologram, or colour shifting inks) is to make a card as forgery proof as possible. By moving the hologram to the back of the card, you can free up valuable space on the front where variable information needs to reside.