Fun fact – when I was first starting out in my freelance career, I was hired by an entrepreneur to design an app that was supposed to completely replace business cards. I bet you’ve never heard of it, because it never took off. In an increasingly digital era, there’s something about that first in-person connection that makes a very strong first impression.
I have certainly gone through phases in my business when I didn’t carry cards around, thinking the tried-and-true networking tactic was a thing of the past. But I’ve realized just how important a leave behind is for a growing business. I’ve received emails from strangers who have been given cards from referrals I met years ago, and I’m increasingly surprised by the power of this tiny piece of paper.
As I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs over the years, and as I plan to release a new season of our digital shop, I’ve been pouring over business card trends and ways to creatively use this piece of collateral. I want to share five trends that have inspired me over the past few weeks:
Several years ago, there was a trend among wedding photographers to use multiple photo options on the back of their business cards. The effect was a sort of collectible, baseball-card feeling that I loved! But recently I’ve notice a more subtle differentiator – the gradient. Most vendors will allow for one static front (where your information lives) and a variety of back-of-card options. This is a great way to play with your brand color palette or patterns to give a unique look and feel to your cards.
I’ve noticed the fill-in-the-blank trend with our salon clients, and think it’s a great idea for service-based, brick-and-mortar shops. When you work with a client, whether it’s new or repeat business, consider handing them a stack of “referral” business cards. Your client can write in their name if you offer a referral discount program, or you can write out any special promotions or offers to new clients. That way, a new client has your contact information, physical location, and a special offer to encourage them to stop by!
I am always a lover of good type and minimalist layouts, so seeing the split-type trend was especially exciting for me. At first glance, these cards seem about as basic as it gets, but just splitting the logo, or adding an off-the-side element can add visual interest and spark curiosity, while consistently pointing the viewer back to your contact information. A great way to lead the eye to your call-to-action!
We typically encourage our branding clients to consider design assets that can be used in interesting ways throughout their collateral. Branded illustrations are a great way to add personality and context to a new business, as long as they’re used in a thoughtful and cohesive way. I also love that these cards can be used on a mood board or tacked up to a refrigerator as a piece of art, eliminating the potential that they’ll end up in the trash after a conference 🙂
If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know I’m a huge fan of Wes Anderson. I love how he uses vintage details in a modern and unexpected way throughout his films, and I’ve often seen how those details have made their way into the graphic design world. Instead of trying to make business cards techy and digital, why not go in the opposite direction and allude to telegrams and faxed notes? It’s an unexpected way to add personality and interest, making a solid first impression.