Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Inspires Me: Business Cards

Business cards are key to forming a good first impression. And at Alt Summit people take the design of their cards very seriously. (Check out these round ups of favorite business cards from previous Alt Summits by Camille Styles (2011, 2012), Creature Comforts, Food Nouveau, Kirtsy, and SHE PAPERIE.) While the conference is not until January, there are already posts on the Alt Blog about "The Importance of Business Card Design" along with tips.
Credits (clockwise from top left): Ez Pudewa of Creature Comforts; Camille Styles (2012); Kathleen Shannon of Jeremy and Kathleen / Braid Creative; Camille Styles (2011); Robin Miller of It's Robin with an i; and Meg Biram of MIMI+MEG.

Maybe it's because I worked for a firm with many Chinese and Japanese customers early in my career that I consider business cards very carefully. If you're not familiar with how business cards are exchanged in China or Japan, here's a quick introduction. Parties exchange business cards with the writing face up. As you offer your card, you briefly introduce yourself. You never grab at the other person's card or stuff it in your pocket. Treat it as if you're receiving a gift. Accept with both hands. Read the card and only then - after you have read the card - place it in your wallet or in a business card folio. Don't nervously play with the card; bending corners or doodling on the card is taken as an insult.
For my first Alt Summit, I'm planning on designing a set of business cards that are uniquely me. Sure I'm looking at what others have done. Why? Because I wanted to see whether people successfully infused the personality of their blog into their first impression.
Credits (top clockwise): Designed by Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely, printed by Eagle Printing. (A personal touch, top clockwise): Designed by illustrator Madalina Andronic & designer Claudiu Stefan, The Awesome Project, spotted on The Design Inspiration; designed and made by Ez Pudewa of Creature Comforts; and designed by Megan Smith of Dressed by Style. (A pop of color, top clockwise): Designed by A Pair and A Spare spotted on Pugly Pixel; designed by Molly Bernadette of A Piece of Toast, printed by Cotton Paperie; and designed by Wild Ink Press spotted on Paper Crave.

My definition of success for business cards: Does the card speak a 1,000 words while a stranger holds it in their hands that 5 to 10 seconds after we've exchanged cards? How will I know if my cards succeed? At Alt, the stranger across from me will disappear and a conversation with a friend will strike up. A confession. You see, even though I'm in Marketing and run events for a living, I'm very much of an introvert. It's incredibly hard for me to strike up a conversation with someone I don't know. It's easy at a tradeshow; the stranger either wants to know more about what my company does or what free gift we're giving out.
Credits (top left to right): (Shape) Designed by Creattica, spotted on You the Designer and designed by Anagrama, spotted on HOW. (Action) Designed by Danni Hong of Oh Hello Friend, spotted on Alt Blog. (Form) Poster designed by Silvio Teixeira, spotted on Gizmodo, and Business card book, designed by Tanya Kozlova, spotted on The Design Inspiration.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely's 10 cute and creative business cards, Infarrantly Creative's DIY roundup, Design Swan's 16 Creative and Unusual Business Card Designs, You the Designer's 55 Brilliant Letterpress Business Cards, or The Design Inspiration.
Do you carefully consider a colleague's business card?
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All layouts by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
What Inspires Me is a monthly series, published on the third Wednesday of each month. Posts prior to April 2011 are available at A Timeless Affair - Inspiration for Vintage Weddings.