Business Cards: Invest in the Brand in Your Hand ⋆ Small Business Marketing Consultant | Small Business Branding

Business Cards: Invest in the Brand in Your Hand

Everything communicates in marketing – whether you want it to or not. It’s easy to overlook little details, but those are some of the best ways to express and build your brand.

Your most ubiquitous piece of stationery – your business card – can be a powerhouse, but don’t overload it. As with every other marketing activity, first decide your intention for your card.

As I look now at some cards on my desk, I perceive these intentions:

  • “I want my card to build my credibility.”
  • “I want my card to inform about all my services. ALL of them.”
  • “I want to create a warm reminder of my brand promise.”

Sometimes, it seems people just wanted to jam their contact info onto a little piece of paper, convenient for handing around. That’s under-utilizing this asset!

Business cards are the best value in the advertising medium. They’re small, personal and usually hand-delivered. They’re one of the first impressions you make. Most people will hang on to your card, even if they throw your brochure away (which they will – brochures are a drag – think website instead).

At minimum, your card should contain the essence of your brand. The card’s look and feel should be in harmony with the unique identity you are cultivating for your business.

 

Whether you deliver it in person with a smile and a handshake, or it is passed to someone in a referral from your happy client, it should make a strong impression for you, consistent with all the other experiences someone could expect from your company.

I will sometimes give an intention, or blessing, to my cards and other marketing materials: “May these cards find their way to those who could be helped most by what I do.” Whether it gives my cards a nice energy that matches my brand, or just makes me feel nice inside, I enjoy it.

Be careful of leaking accidental messages. If your cards are flimsy, poorly printed or contain typos, people might draw conclusions about your attitude to your business – that you’re cheap, inattentive to detail or not serious about your work.

Your card should include your brand promise (Jaw-Dropping Self-Intro), which may take the form of a tag line or slogan. This quick benefit statement will be a reminder each time your prospect views your card.

Beyond brand essence and brand promise, what you include on your card depends on what your recipients need to know. Basic contact information is good, but don’t list ways of contacting you that you don’t prefer.

For example, if you’re seldom in your office, why list a land or fax line? If you don’t have open office hours, you can leave off the physical address. However, consider the impression made by having, or excluding, any of this information. Remember, everything communicates, so you’re responsible for the impression made by these inclusions or omissions.

If you have a web site, definitely include it on your card, since that’s making the best use of both of these assets.

Action plan: Assess your card’s effectiveness against your intentions for it. How does it measure up? Could it be working more effectively for you?

For inspiration check out these amazing designs.  Like concept cars and runway fashions, many of these may be too far out for you to use in your business, but they certainly demonstrate what is possible.

Photo credits from top to bottom: kvanhorn, philcampbell

  • Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

  • Thanks, Allen! I appreciate you stopping by. :-D

  • Topical for me, this one. I’m in the process of designing some cards for my on line brand, and I’m struggling. Basically my online brand is the photo I use everywhere of my head! But using a business card with my photo on it seems to go against my natural Anglo Saxton modesty!

    Any ideas?

  • Great info – love the card at top – why don’t you give me a job!

    As an EFT trainer, I find it really practical to put the tapping points for EFT on the back of my slightly oversized cards – and being oversized means they go on peoples’ refrigerators instead of the round file.

    If the card I want to give out is for my artwork at Lyon-Art.com, I have beautiful color images on each one, in which case they still go to the fridge door. Very handy, and people love them and tell their friends about my site.

    Love your blog – aloha – Angela

  • Pingback: » Business Cards: Invest in the Brand in Your Hand | Enlightened … | Brand Marketing Tips()

  • @Mike CJ – Hi Mike. Modesty isn’t always a friend of the brand, if you know what I mean. ;-)

    Ideas: Set an intention for card – to get visitors to site? If so, include a reason to visit. A free download? A controversial post? If it’s to create an indelible connection between you and the blog, then … maybe a die-cut card in the shape of your head? :-D

    Write down a description of the value you offer readers and the style of your brand. Then, ask a brilliant designer to create an icon or logo for you. I’m always pleasantly surprised at the ways words and ideas can be expressed with design.

    Photo as logo: Upside is that *you* radiate the brand, it’s very authentic and, incidentally, it’s “Mike’s Life,” after all. So, it feels appropriate. You could still build a logo for the blog title and use your photo with it.

    Downside: It might be harder to sell your blog, and it might be weirder to have guest bloggers who aren’t part of Mike’s Life.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    @Angela – Those are both great ideas for making cards a useful part of your target audience’s life. She whose cards are useful gets more calls. Thanks for your comment!

  • Could you recommend any specific resources, books, or other blogs on this specific marketing topic?

  • Hi John,

    Thanks for stopping by! Let me think on that and prepare a future post about it. You do some great resource round-ups on your blog. Everyone should check them out!

  • alka

    Hi Samantha, For the past 3 years I’ve been making and selling chocolates from home. I’m looking for an authentic and appropriate name for them. I haven’t as yet named them because I strongly believe the name should represent what I believe in(the values of life)and my strong points ( pointed out by my clients of long): quality, deliverance in time, client personalization, presentation and spiritual messages and outlook.Now I have started teaching chocolate making too at the behest of my clients. Do you have any suggestions for a name I could give my company?or where could i get some help in that? I’m in India.

  • @alka Neat business you have. Good to hear you’re clear on your values and the strong points of your brand. For help on a name I highly recommend the free and excellent resources on the MarketingProfs Know-How Exchange: http://www.marketingprofs.com/ea/index.asp

    They call themselves the most vibrant marketing forum on the web, and there are some incredible experts dispensing advice there. While I hope you’ll continue to visit and comment on this blog, I do think you can get some specific free suggestions of names on that forum. Good luck!

  • alka

    Thankyou Samantha, I’ll just go look up the site and post my query on it. Thankyou for being so prompt. I have my fingers crossed.:)