Is there a Blueprint background on your business card?
What if you made your card out of a slice of hardwood?
Maybe your card folds into a pop-up house?
Or maybe your business card is an unusual size?
I might want to kill you.
Just like every other article I’ve written for Life of an Architect, the idea for today’s post was born out of the moment I found myself at the paper cutter chopping down a few cards I had received during my trip to the National AIA convention in Orlando. It’s pretty typical that I come back from these sorts of events with a few dozen business cards – a menagerie of contact information from other architects, product vendors, and media connections. Some of these I want, other’s not so much, but they all go into the same pile on my desk until I make the time to sort through them and decide which ones I’m keeping and which ones are going to find themselves in my waste bin.
This is Bob’s Big Book of Business Cards, something that has been in the making for almost 20 years. At current count, I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,100 cards, most of which I’ll never look at again once they make it into “the book”. If your business card does make the cut, in addition, I’ll enter your information into my contact list so I’ll have it digitally. The one thing that I do enjoy about “the book” is that I have a running history of where people have worked over the years. Once I have your card, if you change jobs down the road and get a new card, it goes into the same slot, and on top of, your old card. I have an amazing history of cards in here for some of my friends.
Needless to say, I don’t need “the book” but I like it and plan on continuing to use it. So, yesterday was the day that the latest batch of cards was inducted into Bob’s Big Book of Business Cards. As I started sliding cards into their new plastic home … some didn’t fit.
Really?! Cards that don’t fit hurt my face … and I began to scornfully ridicule those cards and their owners.
For 90% of the those people whose cards exceed the US standard 3.5″ x 2″ dimension, your card was immediately thrown in the trash. Your business card is just another creative design challenge, and guess what? You failed miserably. [when reading, mentally put ALOT of emphasis on the word “miserably”]
For the remaining 10%, I chop your card down to size so it will be the correct size.
If it’s time for you to start working on your business cards, let me give some extremely obvious and unsolicited pointers. There are a few “must have’s” your business card must have on it. They are:
- Name of the Business
- Name of the Individual
- Email Address
- Telephone Number
- Mailing Address
- Website Address
That’s really all you need – anything else is business card hyperbole. The remaining considerations are all aesthetic and if you are in a creative industry, you should feel free to do whatever you want with your card … but don’t mess with the size.
As easy as it is to find world-class examples of ridiculous business cards, that’s not the way I roll on this site. It would feel a little bit mean-spirited – maybe cyber bullying is the right word for it – to show someone else’s card here so we could all have a laugh. All you need to know is that I am not a fan of business cards that are oddly shaped, oversized, use materials other than paper, or have pictures on them (your face is bad, a technical drawing is cliche, but a building might be the worst).
I know what some of you are saying:
You: All the things you just listed are ways to make my business card stand out from all the others! You even said it yourself in this very post; you come back from an event with dozens of cards – I need to do something to help my card stand out and be memorable.”
Me: Is me thinking that “your card is irritating and I hate it, and probably you as well” what you want me to remember about you?
Good design can make your card memorable, The right font can make your card memorable. Heck, you can even go crazy and use a thicker card stock if you want your card to be memorable. Just don’t do any of that other stuff I mentioned (unless you are a realtor – it seems to be a requirement that they include their face on their business card … because we are all so easily manipulated into thinking we would rather work with someone attractive than someone with a proven track record, but I digress).
I think it’s only fair that if I am going to rail on others for their business cards that I put mine up for scrutiny by the masses. The image above is my personal business card, and you are seeing the front and the back. The design is pretty straightforward, but there’s a little more going on here than you might realize.
Obviously all of the “must have’s” are present, with a few additional pieces of information thrown in for measure. On what I will call “the front”side of my card, you have all my personal information – my name, title, email address, the Life of an Architect website address, and my cell phone number. On the other side, you have all my company information – office phone number, office website address, and mailing address. The color is inverted from one side to the other, and the colors are simply black and white (or white and black if you’re pedantic).
The company name is on both sides – in a sense to allow either side to be the “front” of the card and there is no “back”.
I even thought about how the card would be flipped in a person’s hand. When you are presented with my card, and you flip it over to the back (which everyone does), the Firm name is always on the left. Some people rotate, while some people flip. Depending on which camp you fall into, the text on the card will either be perfect or upside down. I myself am a flipper, so that’s they way my cards are designed. If that last piece doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it. The point I’m trying to make is that I thought about how someone would read both sides of the card.
Hopefully, I’ve given you all something to think about … particularly those of you who have oversized business cards.