In an age of Google business listings and LinkedIn profiles, how relevant is the humble business card?
They are still relevant, but their function has changed; in place of primarily being a directory, they are an important device for cultivating first impressions.
Almost every brand we’ve worked on over our 4 years in business has required us to design a set of business cards. The reason? An effective card is one of the easiest ways to establish a strong first impression.
I think I’ve printed over 25,000 cards in my career. You’re welcome Mother Earth…
Fear not. A good portion of those were printed on recycled stock.
But that is a heap of first impressions, and I’m confident most of them were pretty positive.
When you hand over that card, it manages the impression you leave on that person. It can either enhance or taint their perception of your business. Case-in-point are the new business cards for one of our clients, Guy Vedelago of Cubo Constructions. People don’t expect a laid-back warehouse builder to have such polished cards.
Guy was at a business lunch recently and was met with a surprised but impressed response from the architects and fellow builders who marvelled at his new cards. The great thing about a card is that you have the chance to leave a lasting physical impression on a person. It holds a spot in their memory, and in their wallet.
The front of the Cubo Constructions business cards. Featuring a raised print on the logo and tagline.
What would you think if the person claiming to be a CEO handed over a tattered, crumpled or flimsy Vista print card?
Most of us have seen the iconic business card scene from American Psycho, where Christian Bale is murderous with envy over the paper stock and emboss on the cards of one of his rivals. If you haven’t, I’ve generously included it below. You’re welcome 🙂
His obsession on paper stock is a bridge too far for me, but there’s something different between a card designed with intelligent purpose and care, and something that looks like it’s been slapped together in Microsoft Paint and printed at Officeworks.
For many of our customers, a set of cards represents confidence. They understand why their brand exists, and their cards reflect that. Like a well-fitted suit of armour, effective branding gives the card wielder confidence to proudly represent their business.
This is why it’s such a thrill for us when people love their business cards; it’s a direct and physical reflection of our ‘business why’ in inspiring people to love what their work represents.
I believe the business card is much more important for smaller, relatively unknown businesses compared to those at larger, established firms, where the reputation of the company precedes the first interaction of the card.
The card ceremony
Apart from the actual design and production of the business card, there’s actually quite a formality around how to hand out and receive business cards, as I was reminded by a friend at a recent networking event. He discussed how the correct way to accept someone’s card is holding it in two hands, holding it out on front deliberately and reading the information, then flipping over to read the back before putting it away carefully in your jacket or cardholder. It sounds a bit formal, however these interactions impact (either for good or bad) first impressions.
The importance of a card continues in its impact for staff. It gives them a sense of belonging and company identity, formalises their role in an organisation. I remember the immense sense of pride felt when I took delivery of my first set of business cards in my first role out of school.
My business cards over my career.
With the help of our expert designers I’ve compiled the 6 most common mistakes we see with business cards:
Let the information breath. Space everything out and use margins. White space can be effective if people want to write something on the card.
- Cheap stock/paper.
I’ve been handed cards printed on office paper. No joke. Say goodbye to conveying any sense of professionalism with cheap paper!
- Over printing.
Will you really go through more than 250 cards?
I have had to recycle hundreds of outdated business cards. One set is 250 – outside of real estate and sales – I can’t see people going through that many cards each year.
- Information overload.
Do people really need your office fax number?
- Too expensive
Titanium black business cards definitely send a statement, but is it the statement you’re going for?
- Wrong size
The traditional business card is 90x55mm, this unfortunately won’t fit into most wallets, especially those new ultra-minimal fancy ones. We recommend slightly smaller, 88x53mm.
Having designed thousands, people often ask what the best cards we’ve made are?
Firstly, that’s like asking us to choose our favourite child.
But these cards did win design awards, so according to some advertising and design judges, they’re pretty good.
These cards for Snacks for Life were awarded a Gold Medal for Brand Identity, Single Element, at the 2018 BADC Awards.
These cards for Babel Creative were awarded a Bronze Medal for Brand Identity, Single Element, at the 2019 BADC Awards.
Next time you’re on the hunt for business cards, avoid these common pitfalls and consider what kind of first impression you’re hoping to make.
Since it’s almost the Silly Season, here’s another one of my favourite YouTube clips on business cards. I don’t like his card, but his delivery is exceptional 😉