I know something about you without ever meeting you. You get excited when you get a new business card. Admit it, I’m right. We all do it, nothing to be ashamed about.
I guess it’s all linked to why we are getting new business cards in the first place. It usually means a new job, or promotion, a brand redesign or something else exciting. So we must have a psychological connection between new cards and a big and exciting change.
But, in this day and age, are they still relevant? Well yes of course, but they are not the only way to accomplish the job. There are some choices that you might want to think about, if you want to stand out from everyone else.
So. Many. Options.
There are hundreds of places on the internet now that will print cards for you, and each place seems to have its own set of unique options and variations on the idea of a business card. But let’s start simple. If you love business cards, and you want to keep it classic, what are your options for jazzing it up?
ur and the Shape
A standard business card in the UK is 85mm by 55mm (or roughly 3.5 by 2 inches) That has been the same for years. It varies a bit from country to country, but I’m in the UK so that’s what I work with most often. So, when you go networking, you get a stack of cards that are all the same size that ends up in a neat little pile on your desk. Literally, NONE of them stand out.
Many printers have realised this and now offer different sizes to help differentiate your card from the pack. Some popular options are square cards, slim cards (they look like those old cigarette cards you use to collect as a kid if you are old enough to remember. If not, don’t smoke kids!) and folded cards. They tend to cost a bit more, as do most of the ideas on this list, but what’re a few pennies to stand out from the rabble? There are also a few places that will offer the option of rounding off the corners of your card. I’m a big fan of this option, especially on thicker card stock. Both Moo.com and Printed.com offer this, with Printed allowing you to choose which corners are round and which sharp, for extra customisation.
Living In A Material World
White card is boring. Do you remember that scene in American Psycho where Christian Bale and his colleagues compare business cards? They obsess over the exact details of cards that are effective all the same. White card, black lettering. And while, as a graphic designer, I can relate to that level of scrutiny to minor details, let’s face it, they are kind of dull. But it was the 80’s that how it was.
Today, we have so many options when it comes to materials. Silk, matt or gloss finished. Various shades of white, off-white or cream. Or why not a totally different colour altogether? What about thickness, is 310gsm enough, or do you want to run it all the way up to 800? That could really impress! You could even get a coloured core to your card, so it will draw the eye in a pile of other, plain looking business cards. What about using a recycled or kraft brown card, and using specialist white ink? That could look extra special.
There really is a lot to think about, and it can be overwhelming, but when you hand a card over to a new business acquaintance, you need to remember they are FEELING the card as well as seeing it, and the texture and weight could be the difference between being remembered or not.
How Does It Feel?
Talking of texture, there are other adds on that will raise your card game above the others. You can add metallic foiling to enhance your logo or a glossy area to make it stand out. Embossing and raised type, to add a touchy feeling element, or a high texture finish.
But why stop at card? There are places that will make your business card out of plastic, cotton, even wood! Imagine if a carpenter gave you a card made of wood, you are definitely going to remember that guy right?
And that’s not all. If you want you can add a NFC chip to a card, that will allow people to simply tap with their phone and be taken to you site, or app, or anything that you want to share with them (we are living in the future).
It Doesn't Have To Be This Way
Wait, what? Not a business card, what am I talking about?
All you are doing is handing out information so that people can contact you at a later date, there is no rule that it has to be a small, pocket-sized card. Obviously, business cards are easy to carry around and that is why they are ubiquitous, but what about using a postcard? Bigger is better, right? And you can get a lot more info across on an a6 postcard than a business card. This works especially well for creatives, who need to show off their talent, as they can have a mini example or portfolio on a postcard. I know some photographers and designers who only used postcards and don’t bother with business cards anymore. People will put them on the fridge or mantelpiece as a work of art, which means they will see it a whole lot more than a card, stuck in a drawer.
Talking of fridges (it must be lunchtime…) there are also options to have business card sized magnets printed. This serves the same purpose of getting your information in someone’s line of sight every time the go for milk or make a sandwich. Imagine how many times your magnet will be seen a day if it is stuck on the fridge in an office. Hundreds, that’s how many.
Similarly, stickers can work well too. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I personally love stickers to slap on a notebook of the back of my laptop, but it needs to match your brand to seem authentic, And it needs to be well designed and eye-catching or people will not take a second look.
Have a think about what fits in with your business. If you are a publisher, maybe a bookmark can act as a business card, or if you install a log burning fires, how about a box of matches with your details on?
I have seen a gardener who had little envelopes printed with their info on and put in some seeds. Brilliant. I also saw a guy online making business cards out of beef jerky, which was frankly, kind of gross, so maybe not that.
There are also material free options. In these days of conspicuous consumption, global warming and the war on plastic, why use card or any other material. You already have a phone in your pocket, so why not use that?
There are services, like Haystack, SnapDat and CamCard, that will allow you to make and distribute ‘digital business cards’ to people you meet. They will also add contact details to your address book and allow you to scan physical cards, and take the information off them too.
These are great solutions for people working in tech and creative industries, as they show that you are out there on the bleeding edge, up to date with the latest trends and looking after the environment at the same time. They can however be daunting to non tech savvy types and, lets face it, it’s another thing to go wrong, another piece of technology that has the potential to fail you. But it could be the reason someone remembers you a few months down the line.
Business cards are great, but they are a little long in the tooth now. Like with everything, times move on and it’s important to keep up. Just because it has always been done that way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.
So maybe its time to take a look and see if you can make something a bit more memorable to hand out at your next networking event. It might just be the thing that gets you your next big piece of work.
I’m Alex Dyett
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer, and Flickering Light Studio is my company. I live in York, UK, with my wife and daughter.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some inspiration to go out and tell your businesses story with great design and eye-catching images. Take a look at the other blog posts to get some more ideas, and if there is anything that you feel I could help you with, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to work on a project with you.