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When Kathy Morrison started doing freelance work for a children’s website, she was given just enough business cards to last her for two months. “The cards looked nice and current, as they said that the website had just launched,” she recalls. “I liked the look of them and felt proud to give them out.”
When Kathy ran out of cards, her boss gave her a packet of 250 more. Like the first set, they said “New Website, Just Launched!” on the front, along with the firm’s contact details. “I thought it was a bit odd as we were already several months old, but I didn’t give it a second thought,” she says. “As a freelancer I was grateful to get any cards, so I considered myself lucky.”
Three and a half years later, Kathy is still using the same old cards – although now she feels a bit embarrassed by them. “Most people don’t realize they’re old, but sometimes I have to explain why we’re three years down the road and still using business cards saying the website is brand new. I just tell clients a white lie – that a new shipment has been ordered but has yet to arrive – and hope they forget about it.”
Lasting First Impression
Business cards, like a limp handshake or crude joke, say a lot about a business – and can make a lasting first impression. Kathy’s business cards, which became more and more out-dated with every passing day, were at best telling clients that her website didn’t keep up with current trends, and at worst letting them know that her firm didn’t really care about its own corporate image or brand identity – and probably won’t care a whole lot about yours.
It doesn’t matter if you run a small website or are employed by a FTSE-100 company, a business card is often the first thing a potential client sees when he or she is introduced to your firm, and is a way to capture your brand image. If that initial impression comes off as negative, being either sloppy, behind-the-times or simply out-dated – then the effect can backfire.
Business cards exist to provide vital information about a business, including important contact details and the nature of the work you provide. At a time when more people meet up online than anywhere else, you’d be forgiven in thinking that business cards are a bit passé. They aren’t.
Today’s business cards are more than just a means of passing contact information from one person to another – if that’s all they were, then a scrap of paper or Post-it note would do. Business cards serve to encapsulate your brand in a tiny moment in time, letting potential clients know not only who you are and what you do, but also how you do it.
Contemporary Design Trends
There was a time when almost all business cards were black and white, printed on one side only with most people opting to copy the Ogilvy ad layout formula. Most people would recognize it when they see it: the company logo is printed on the upper left side, followed by the individual’s name and contact information on the bottom.
Things got a bit more exciting when people decided to branch out and forsake the former patterns, choosing bolder colors and sometimes even printing their photo on one side. Then designers got even braver with business card printing, using both sides and adding a bit of foil or a cut-out to make the card stick out from all others.
Nowadays, however, things are getting back to basics. Designers are choosing to keep things simple, going back to neutral colors and plain, simple designs that exist without a modicum of fuss. Clean designs have rapidly taken over from the fussy, busy designs of yesteryear, often with a plain logo on one side and contact information on the other.
Business cards that will make clients sit up and take notice include:
• Smaller cards: The uncommon shape will make people view your card as unique.
• Square or circular cards. They might not fit nicely into your client’s wallet, but they will stand out from the crowd.
• Cards with rounded corners. Make a card a bit more fun.
• Cards that include images: Projects the business attribute you want to emphasize immediately.
• USB cards. Promote your business with text on the card’s external surface, then fill up the internal Flash drive to store anything from data to presentations to photos.
• Gadgetry cards. Your clients won’t be able to forget that your business exists if they drink out of a mug with your contact details on it, use a mouse pad featuring your contact details, or have a fridge magnet with your contact details! Goes one step further than the once-ubiquitous imprinted pens.
• Creative cards. Dental business cards featuring useable floss, cards made from stainless steel and those in the shape of an ice cube are just a few original designs that will capture clients’ imaginations.
• Cards with QR codes. Give your clients something to think about.
• Plastic cards. Designed to last as long as your relationship with your client.
Make It Real, Make an Impression
There’s no time like the present – so why not sport a new business card and show clients what you’re made of?
That’s why Kathy decided to do something about her outdated business cards. After three years of freelancing she has just become part-owner of the website herself – and is in the process of re-designing it from top to bottom. And, of course, she is redesigning a new set of business cards as well.
“The colors in the old card were dated, and I certainly don’t want clients to think we’ve just launched now that we’re almost four years old,” she says. “I’m going to make a much bigger logo, that’s plain and simple, with no photos or anything, just contact information at the bottom. The new website is going to be on-trend, sleek and sophisticated, and I want that reflected in our business cards as well.”
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Gary Shouldis is a father, husband, business owner and avid blogger. He is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company helping small businesses grow their online presence and bottom line. When he’s not working, you can usually find him being chased through the park by his 4 children.
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