What document has the longest circulation and “shelf life.?
What document style has withstood literally centuries of technology changes and is as familiar today as it was 400 years ago?
Look in your wallet, or on your desk. I bet you can easily lay your hand on an example.
The answer – your business card.
The business card has been around since the 17th Century. The first “trade cards” were developed in London and were used as advertising and also as maps, directing the public to merchant's stores, as there was no formal street numbering system at the time. By the 19th Century the concept had become combined with the French “carte de visite” (or visiting card) that also first appeared in the 17th Century, to produce the modern business card that we all recognize.
(More on the history of the business card can be found here.)
So why do I consider it the hardest working document you produce?
Just think of all the thinks a business card must accomplish:
- Say who you are.
- Say what your job is.
- Let people know how to contact you (and as technology increases so does the number of contact choices.)
- Give the company name (and maybe a division name)Let people know what the company does.
- Project the company’s culture and values through use of design, color and maybe even the type of card stock
All in a space just 3 ½ x 2 inches.
The business card can be a great marketing tool. And with relatively cheap production costs it’s easy to produce a set for almost every occasion.
Personally I carry around four different designs.
- One for the 4Js Group,
- one for my role at Quadralay,
- one as a freelance writer,
- and ones designed for when I do events related to specific book related events like signings and conventions.
Take a look at your business card, what does it say about you and your business?
In future posts I’ll examine some of the cards that I’ve accumulated over the years and take a look at what works and what doesn’t.