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Are Business Cards Obsolete?

are business cards obsolete

Standard business processes are rapidly changing, in many ways for the better. We no longer use business cards to share contact information. We use our phones and social media platforms for that. Instead, business cards have become an extension of our brands.

Full disclosure here – I love an opportunity to strike up a conversation. As a creative professional, I've enjoyed developing my own colourful and unique card to hand out to business prospects. It sounds harsh but it’s a fact that people often do judge a book by its cover, and you only get one shot to make a great first impression.

A brilliant design by Draft FCB for Greek restaurant

OK, so these probably aren't the most practical business cards in the world, but the idea is pretty cool. Developed by Cape Town-based creative agency FCB, these creative cards were crafted for a Greek restaurant, and play on the traditional Greek custom of smashing plates. Made from broken pieces of pottery, the unique design is decorated simply with the restaurant's name and telephone number.

Business cards are a way to distinguish you and your brand from competitors. In face-to-face meetings, business cards are often the first time a client is exposed to your brand. It’s vital for them to make the right impression.

Print professionally

With advances in printing we no longer have to print 1000’s of cards at one time. Print smaller quantities, on good quality material. 72% of people will judge a company by their business card and nearly 40% will not do business with you if your business card looks cheap. If your product or service is seasonal perhaps consider having you cards seasonal too.

Skip the Titles

Unless it’s essential to your role, titles just make business cards more complicated. Perhaps consider adding a Memory Tag. Mine is “The woman with the red hair and glasses”. Ask your colleagues what they think yours should be…..if you dare.

Add a pop of colour

We are visually more attracted to colour than monochrome schemes. It’s also easier for a potential client to find your card in their drawer if it is eye catching.

Consider a unique gimmick

Don’t go over the top. Concrete business cards -- yes, they really exist -- are definite conversation starters, but they aren’t practical. If you're a programmer, include a little code riddle on your card. If you're a writer, try a short phrase or word game. Do something that makes your client look at your business card and say, "I want to work with this person."

crayon business cards
Crayon Creative Business Cards
Ad agency JWT designed this awesome cheese grater business card design for Bon Vivant
Ad agency JWT designed this awesome cheese grater business card design for Bon Vivant

This clever business card doubles as a tiny cheese grater, for Brazilian cheese store Bon Vivant. Created by ad agency JWT, the clever networking tool has proved extremely popular, The awesome design also comes complete with a protective sleeve. All in all, a simply grate idea!

Make sure you are more memorable than your card.

While the look and feel of your business card are important, it won’t matter if you don’t make a genuine connection. Find some link with the people you network with, both professionally and personally. On a business level, nothing is better than a face-to-face, real-life connection. Your business card never replaces that for new contacts; it just reminds them of it.

Vitor Bonates combines work and play with these creative business cards

How cool is this personal business card for designer Vitor Bonates? A self-confessed lover of music and vinyl, Bonates based his card on classic vinyl records, replacing track name and details with his own and finishing off the design with a sleeve that holds the replica record. A simple but brilliant idea.

You don't have to go overboard to represent your brand. When getting creative with your business card, make sure it’s a good fit for you. What works for one business might not work for yours.

So no – business cards are not obsolete. They are not just for popping into boxes at hotel reception desk to be entered in to a draw. It may not be your first instinct to hand out business cards anymore, but imagine the possible interesting conversations and connection you could make if you did.

Painter Business Cards