The business of business cards

Seth Godin get’s all American Psycho on us for poor business card design. He says:

“The point [of business cards] should be to demonstrate that you have good taste”

Very true, as I’m sure Patrick Bateman (VP at Pierce and Pierce) would agree.

Business cards truly are one of the most effective forms of personal/organisational branding and marketing I can think of –

  • They are permission (sometimes request) based.
  • Everyone reads them.
  • No-one throws them away.
  • You can be creative with them.
  • A large amount of information can be communicated with them. Email. Web site. Blog. Telephone. Key messages. Images.
  • They contain many different calls to action – see above.

Personally, I only have one ask when it comes to business cards – they should have enough space on the back for me to write down where I met the person and a couple of tid-bits of information about them.

Of my favourite three business cards currently in my collection two are creative – Sean Moffitt’s Agent Wildfire cards (with actual wildfire coming off the edges) and Colin Douma‘s moo cards – while the third belongs to Dyson‘s Head of International Public Relations and is more a small product brochure than a business card.

In fact, it’s a perfect example of micro-marketing from a truly remarkable organisation. (I am a proud owner/operator of a remarkable Dyson DC18)

However, I should say that I’m hardly an authority on business cards. The back of the iStudio business cards look like we work at The Gap

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11 Responses to The business of business cards

  1. Mitch Joel says:

    Way to work in that video clip.



    BTW, I have swanky cards (I think).

  2. Ed Lee says:

    yup, you do have nice business cards. but as they’re in French, i can’t read them…

  3. Vikram Rajan says:

    great video, hilarious!! I may add that to my own business card post later… I agree with you 100%. Business cards are the most handy marketing collateral… the most kept, the most looked at, and the most given to others (for referrals). Its our first impression.

    Too many business cards are boring. And too many lawyers, accountants, financial planners, and health professionals think they have to have a boring business card. The ones who showcase their personality through their card immediately stand out. I don’t think the stereotypical real estate card.

    I hope we can be part of the Better Business Card movement!
    You can check out my post on how I improved my business card

    ~ Vikram

  4. Kate Trgovac says:

    Great post, Ed! I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from a number of business card pics on Flickr. There are several groups there – this is one of the most popular

    Also, am wondering if and could get a link on our blogroll 🙂

    Cheers .. Kate

  5. Vilu says:

    So if Godin says large type (say 12 or 13 points) is no-no in call cards we should print ours in tiny type and force the reader to change to bifocals.
    The PRIMARY purpose of a call card is to be read–easily and effortlessly. And the most important items in a call card are your name and contact info. If they can’t be read easily and effortlessly, what’s your point?

  6. Dina says:

    I completely agree. And, I love the video clip! I will have to share with my graphic design buddies at

    I’m working with a client right now who’s a Realtor. We are working on her identity–she is trying to create a brand around herself rather than using her company’s brand. Around here, all the real estate people have their pictures on their business cards. She will too, but we’re looking at having lots of white space and keeping it simple. I’ve created a logo for her, and we will not be putting the requisite Glamour Shot in a box on the card. (She has had professional portraits done by a portrait photographer.) It’ll be very different than the typical in the area.

    I also must agree with Vilu that they should no matter what, be legible. If your audience is older adults, having that extra point or two in type size could make the difference in whether you get the call.

    Thanks for the topic–Dina

  7. karenzi says:

    I like your post and LOVE the video. But unless I was blind to it I didn’t see any images of the business cards you referenced – are they posted somewhere?

    Funny how something so basic as a business card will never go out of style and still prompts marketers to hail its virtues/flaws. I wrote a blog post on a similar topic a couple of months ago. I’d love to hear more comments!

  8. Ed Lee says:

    karenzi – unfortunately I don’t have permission to post the business cards I referenced but, trust me, they are excellent!

    dina and Vilu – thanks for your interest, glad I can inspire some deeper thinking on a mundane topic…


  9. Sean Moffitt says:

    I am indeed humbled, that upcharge oin the diecut may actually be worth it all after a blog post like this…..thought i would attach the visual of my now old business card referenced by Ed above :



  10. As a virtual assistant who has scanned in thousands of business cards for clients who attend conferences regularly, I find it very important that a card scans in well.

    If you do most of your business at conventions, you need to keep this in mind when you design your card. You don’t have to go to boring white with black font to achieve this, but you need to be careful with high gloss and text on top of images.

  11. Dave Delaney says:

    Wow, thanks for the video clip. I read that book not so long ago and will always be disturbed by it. A classic!

    As for business cards. I love mine. People always comment on the Emma card, because of how stylish it is.

    Take a look at this custom card we made for me to bring with me to PodCasters Across Borders last June:
    Dave's Drink Tickets


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