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Business Cards Definition

Updated on June 19, 2013

A business card is the ideal introduction

It is said that first impressions can make or break a potential relationship. It doesn't matter what that relationship might be. It could be personal or professional. It could be a potential meeting to make a sale or interview for a business position. Relationship - for the purpose of this article - simply means the way in which two people regard or behave towards one another. And, for the purposes of this article, first impressions have to do with the business card. In many cases, a business card is the first glimpse of the person it represents.

Here's an example: a representative of an office equipment company desires to speak with the purchasing manager of a large corporation. In this case the sales rep hands his card to the receptionist and asks her to pass it along to the manager. Let's ask a silly question: what if that business card was bent, had a torn corner, was difficult to read and only said "Mr. Bill Jones" on other information. If you were the purchasing manager, you more than likely wouldn't be much impressed or willing to give time to "Mr. Bill Jones" - all based on the appearance of that business card.

Calling cards have been used for centuries as a way of getting a foot in the door or used as an announcement of your arrival and who you are. While in Victorian times the calling card might simply say "Mr. Bill Jones" and leave it at that, now these cards can give so much more information about who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you.

An Artist's Business Card

This is my own business card. As an artist I felt it important to show, at a glance, a little of what my business is about.
This is my own business card. As an artist I felt it important to show, at a glance, a little of what my business is about. | Source

A business card is a window to your business

I would say that it is as important to spend time choosing the design for your business card as it is in choosing your business attire. After all, what you wear for your daily work says a lot about you. Sometimes it even lets others know at a glance just what industry you might be in.

A three-piece suit generally says "corporate" or some kind of high level professional. A nicely appointed two-piece suit generally points to any of a dizzying number of white collar jobs - attorney, CPA, consultant. (And I'm not making gender distinctions here as women wear 3-piece suits also.)

Casual attire could mean several things now that we're in the 21st century and the "dot com" age has come into its own. A person in jeans and a casual shirt could be a computer programmer or the owner of the software company. What might distinguish the occupation could be what it says on his or her business card.

People in conservative occupations have a tendency towards conservative cards while those in creative industries have leave towards colors and designs on theirs. A photographer might choose to put a photographic image on his card; an artist might put either a painting or some kind of artistic design. A chef might go for either a more corporate conservative look or go the creative route with an image of his signature dish.

Not everyone is given the choice of what their card might look like or what it might say as some companies have "stock" cards with the company logo already on them and then print off a supply for each new employee who needs one.

However, what if you could design your own?

Back of a sample business card

A simple graphic done in a pleasing color can be an effective way to distinguish a business card. This graphic is an original done by the author.
A simple graphic done in a pleasing color can be an effective way to distinguish a business card. This graphic is an original done by the author. | Source

Sample card with design on the text side

The main side of the card has a portion of the design and is faded so that the text will show up clearly.
The main side of the card has a portion of the design and is faded so that the text will show up clearly. | Source

How to design a business card

Regardless of what industry you are in or what occupation you hold, you might find many reasons to want a business card. A lot of people think that they need to go to a professional designer for a card, but truly it is not difficult to design your own card. And, no matter your job or profession, you can put a bit of personality in your card. Here's a simple idea:

Choose a simple design. You might find a piece of clip art, use a favorite photo or even design something yourself on your computer. If you have the skills and a software creative program such as Photoshop, you could even produce your cards yourself. Otherwise take your design to a local printer or upload to an online business card printer - there are a great many to choose from.

For this example I chose to put a simple graphic design on the back of the card - it would not have text. (see first example to the right) I think the blue color is a safe choice as most people like the color blue and even in a corporate setting it wouldn't be jarring. The design itself is different enough to be memorable. Sometimes your card could end up in a stack of others and having a unique design on your business card just might bring it to mind.

The other side of the card could remain white, or you could put a faint portion of the design on it. The second example shows what I mean.

Sample business card with text

It's not difficult to make your own simple, easy to read and easy to understand business card that contains all your useful contact information in a compact, attractive size.
It's not difficult to make your own simple, easy to read and easy to understand business card that contains all your useful contact information in a compact, attractive size. | Source

What to put on a business card

A business card by definition is a card that states what your business is, who you are, and how you can be reached. A simple card would have these elements (as demonstrated by the example):

1. Your Name and Your Title. This is the first thing of importance on your card. You want the typeface to be larger and bolder than the rest so that a recipient of the card won't have to hunt for your name. Including your title gives an instant idea of what you do...or what position you hold in the company.

2. Phone Numbers. Most of us in business have two numbers where people can reach us or leave messages: a cell phone number and an office number. It's important to have these numbers large and easy to read. More than likely someone will grab your card to give you a call if they don't remember your number.

3. Email and Website addresses. Email is fast supplanting postal mail as a means of getting messages to and from business clients. If email is a way you choose to have people contact you in addition to the telephone, include your email address. Websites are becoming the online home base for many types of businesses and by including your website address you are giving the card recipient a way to learn more about you and your company.

4. Postal, physical location address. Not everyone includes this on their business card anymore. The decision to include it will depend upon the need for people to know where your office is located either to visit it or send mail to it.

5. Slogan or tagline. If your business or company has a catchy, well-known slogan or tagline you could put it along the bottom of your card in a different typeface from the rest of the card.

Business and Calling Cards Poll

Are Business and Calling Cards still relevant in the 21st century?

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A business card by definition says hello

Whether you are bringing back the old custom of offering people a calling card or you need to have a card that provides all your contact information, Business Cards are still relevant in the work we do. Arguments can be made that we are now living in an electronic-only age, but the fact remains that we tend to do business face-to-face.

I attended a bloggers' conference a couple years ago. Attendance was several thousand and being able to collect actual business cards ended up being a good thing. I would write notes on the back of the cards I received - something about how I met that person, what breakout session we attended, anything to help bring that person back to mind when I looked at their card later. And so it did help. Even months later when I went through the stack to look up the card owner's website (everyone had their blog/website address on their card) by reading the notes I'd made I could recall the gist of our conversation. And it was amazing how individual those cards were! Each one reflected the personality of the person.


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