You’d be forgiven for thinking that the business card should, by now, have gone the way of fax machines, Walkmans and VHS (ie consigned to the skip, along with pretty much everything else Patrick Bateman coveted and obsessed about in American Psycho. And yet, the likelihood is you’ll have a few on your desk, left over from the last offsite meeting you attended.
“Most people still give them out in the hope that it’ll be more resonant than something simply tapped into the Cloud,” says Mr Peter York, management consultant, co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook and former style editor of Harpers & Queen. “You can see why they’ve survived because you can charge them with meaning to a greater extent than you can with something electronic.”
As Patrick Bateman showed us, business cards can evoke strong feelings, while attempts to digitise them with apps have largely come to nothing. However, it is important to ensure those feelings are positive. For example, Facebook’s Mr Mark Zuckerberg used to have one that read, “I’m CEO, Bitch” – not something we’d advise. So here, with the help of Mr York, is an expert guide to making your business card stand out – in a good way.
BE CLEAR AND INFORMATIVE
“I’ll collect an enormous number of business cards and then afterwards think, ‘Who was that? And when did I meet them?’ One simply forgets, which is why you should be as clear as possible about who you are and what you do, without laying it on too thickly. If you’re freelance, you really have to indicate how you might be useful without sounding needy. I got a card from a writer recently and it said, ‘WRITER’, followed by what he wrote about – in his case, plays – which I found interesting and useful to know.”
SHOW OFF (DISCREETLY)
“It’s a wonderful asset if you’re working for a great brand. If you give a card that says Rothschild – or any great City institution, a great auction house, a terribly important newspaper, or one of the few great publishing houses – people know what is meant by these powers, and that’s a help. The name of the institution should be the biggest thing on the card, and then there’s the typography. There’s one that’s unique to Christie’s and so on, and everyone recognises it. I met a City grandee and his card just said his name and the great institution where he worked. And that’s it. Bing bong.”
AVOID GROOVY JOB TITLES
“If you work for a lesser-known company, often in some sort of creative industry, with a name like Cocobongo.com or something, and your title is, for example, head of digital pyrotechnics, I think, ‘Does this exist? Does this person exist? What do they do all day?’ It is better to keep it simple. Signs of interestingness are best kept restrained. It’s funny to think that there are so many people of such grandeur.”
KEEP THE DESIGN UNDERSTATED
“Our original card and letterhead for SRU [Special Research Unit, Mr York’s consultancy], which was so fantastically understated, was done by Peter Saville some time in the 1990s. But it did not shriek, ‘Groovy Peter Saville did this!’ It’s a marketing communication. The graphic designer creating the card should think about what the priority of the message should be, and how much or how little you should say. Do you use a descriptor, a slogan, a royal crest or a coat of arms? What are the other things to indicate status? How do you fill the space? What is the hierarchy of messages, as indicated by the relative size of type?”
RECEIVE AS WELL AS YOU GIVE
Be aware that different countries have different customs when it comes to the giving and receiving of business cards. Americans can often throw them across the desk in a carefree and cavalier manner, while the Japanese and Chinese have a far more formal and mannered approach. “They make a great palaver over receiving cards,” says Mr York. “I love it, and when I receive one, I make a conspicuous point of putting it in a prominent pocket, and treat it as a sacred object.”
To make sure you get your cards just right, view our range of business cards HERE
Link to the original article via Mr Porter HERE