In the 19th century people used calling cards as a way of introducing themselves ahead of a personal visit. Typically, cards simply carried the name of the bearer, and meetings could be secured and arranged if the identity of the person was known to the recipient.
If the name on the card was unfamiliar, the addition of a coat of arms, social club or refined ornaments helped to convey that the bearer was a person of social significance or distinction and therefore worth entertaining. In these cases the card had the ability to open doors (literally and figuratively) because it gave a person instant credibility — even in their absence.
Today a business card is a key part of any stationery program. In a world where self (and brand) promotion is so important to successful enterprise, a business card remains a unique kind of marketing tool that can instantly qualify — or disqualify — your company to prospective clients on a ‘first-impression’ basis.
There are two components of a business card that will determine how effective it will be. The first component is easy — it’s the content. You want people to know who you are and how to get in touch with you, so the card needs to carry your name, company name, telephone number, email, mailing address and website (yes, your company should have a website!).
In addition you may want to include your personal title or qualifications, and a short company descriptive or positioning statement.
The second component of an effective business card is the trickier part — the design. This is where your credibility can be established, regardless of personal qualifications or company profile.
A card that is effectively designed will convey an instant and lasting impression of your professional competence — the layout, typography, logo, colours and card stock should all combine to provide you with an unspoken but convincing introduction to a prospective client.
Some considerations you should be aware of that your designer can help you with:
- What are your business objectives? How do you want to be perceived? Is the persona presented on your card in accord with your prospective audience (eg. corporate, non-profit, etc.)?
- Is the information presented in a way that provides proper emphasis to the relative elements?
- Does the typography speak with a ‘voice’ that supports or conflicts with your business objectives?
- Is your identity supported with a unique and memorable logo or wordmark?
- Do the properties of chosen colours combine to create a desirable response?
- Is the card stock of the proper colour, weight and texture?
Consider your card as part of your personal presentation — it’s communicating something about you and your company every time you hand it out at a meeting, distribute it at a business or social function, include it in correspondence or leave it behind with a prospective client.
Take a look at your business card and ask yourself this question: would you open your company door to that person? If you’re unsure, talk to your designer. Your card could be a ‘key’ to future success!