After almost six months of being open for business, I FINALLY bit the bullet and ordered business cards, hooray!
What took me so long, you ask?
Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the business card game these days has gotten a little out of control.
I mean, between my trip a few years ago to Alt Summit (the ultimate business card beauty pageant) and my access to Pinterest with all its “Top 10 Business Card Design” pins, I was having major anxiety about how to make my own cards stand out from the pack.
After months of changing my mind about what I wanted, finally I was forced to make a decision because Jason and I are in Fargo, ND attending Misfit Con for the next five days and I needed cards to include in the swag bags.
Finally faced with a need to make a decision, I remembered something important about business cards though: they’re fleeting.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. We hand them out or gather them up and we pretty much forget about them after that UNLESS the person we meet has made a true impression on us.
And yes, while you could certainly argue that a business card that transforms into a tiny 3-dimensional bunny rabbit makes an impression, I would also argue that the flash factor has to be met with substance or it won’t be worth more than a few momentary ooohs and ahhhhs.
I think the point of a business card should be pretty simple: to be a lasting extension of a first meeting. It’s less about the card really, and more about the impression made when handing out the card. Your business card is just your ticket to continuing a conversation with someone beyond your initial encounter.
Once I finally looked at it like a simple conversation-extender, it took a bit of the pressure off to make it the most unique and awe-inspiring card ever. As long as I created something that’s a reflection of who I am and what I do, that’s good enough for me.
Then the question of course became, what info should I include on the card itself?!
After a bit of pondering, here’s what I came up with. The top three most important things to include on a business card, in my opinion:
What To Include On Your Business Card Design
1. Who you are.
Sure, it’s a no-brainer, but it has to be said. I would argue that your name is the most important thing on your card. Going the minimal route by only putting your business name may be tempting if you’re looking for that little bit of mystery, but I think if you don’t leave someone with a written reminder of who you are, the chances of that meeting turning into a great opportunity are pretty slim because the person may not remember who they’re reaching out to!
2. Context for what you do.
If your business card is a chance to extend your first meeting, again you don’t want someone confused about what it is that you do. This is why you want to offer some context for your business or role or line of work. On my cards, I included just a small line below my name reading “designer, illustrator + happiness hunter.” I purposefully added that last part as an additional point of context. I don’t just do design but I write and care about individual happiness and fulfillment. Even though I’ve left some of that “mystery factor,” someone isn’t going to look at my card and wonder “Huh, what in the world does she do?”
If you have a title that is on the more broad or vague side (ie. VP or Head of Sales or Owner), it’s probably a good idea to include additional context like a descriptive tagline to make it clear what industry you’re in.
3. How to follow up with you.
Okay, here’s where I think people go a little bit bananas. Don’t feel pressure to include every single contact point under the sun. You don’t need your cell and your fax number and your Linkedin account and your Pinterest profile and your Skype handle for someone to get a hold of you. If you don’t answer client calls often, don’t leave your phone number. If you’re not active on social media, don’t include your social media handles. There are no requirements here. Just do what makes sense for you.
Again, I’ve seen people at the other end of the spectrum who go the ultra-minimal route just putting their website as a contact point. That could be sufficient if you’re a blogger just trying to get some name recognition or intrigue new readers. But what happens if you run into someone interested in sponsoring your blog? Or if you’re a client-based business and you meet a potential client? The last thing you want is someone who’s interested in working with you having to go through loops and hoops, hunting to find your email address on your website.
Make it easy for people to connect with you and just include your email on the card. That seems to be the preferred method of contact these days anyway. (Snapchat being a close second, of course, right?)
These were the three rules I tried to stick to for my own cards, but thanks to some swanky technology, I was able to include two additional points that I think are a huge BONUS if you can find a way to fit them in.
4. A visual representation of your work.
If your job is in a visual field and your work can be captured in a tangible way – ie. art, photography, design, architecture, etc. – then it’s definitely a huge plus if you can find a way to represent that on your card. Since so much of my work revolves around hand-lettering, I thought it would be cool to make the backs of my cards a couple of my favorite hand-lettered art pieces from my Instagram account.
I give credit to my friend TEKSTartist for giving me this idea. He introduced me to Moo.com’s innovative “Printfinity” technology. Moo allows you to upload at least 50 unique images for the back of your cards, which is a great way of basically including a portfolio piece with every card you give out. (I also love that I didn’t have to choose just one of my brand colors for the back but I got to include every single one!)
[If you’re interested in using Moo, use this referral link to get 10% off your first order. I’m very happy with the quality of the cards so I recommend them!]
5. A glimpse of what your mission is.
I’m a big believer in the power of Why in business, and while showing your work and including all the right info is important, I think it’s even better if you can share with people a little bit about WHY you do what you do. That’s why I chose to include one of my favorite quotes on my cards, one that acts as a sort of guiding mantra for Made Vibrant. It’s a window into what I think makes me stand out from other designers, what makes me unique. If you can find a way to include something like that on your card, I think you stand a huge chance of continuing that conversation like I mentioned earlier.
Of course, there is another alternative entirely. You could ignore this entire post and just go with my better half Jason’s philosophy on why he doesn’t carry business cards: “If someone I meet wants to follow-up badly enough, I’m not that hard to find online. They’ll get in touch.”
I think I’ll stick with my strategy for now, but what about you? What do you think makes a good business card? Do you think they’re an antiquated business practice or are they still useful?
Let me know in the comments or share a link to some of your favorite/most effective business card designs!
And now, I’m off to Fargo! Catch you guys later!