How I Redesigned My Business Card for Social Media

The exchange of business cards has been a corporate ritual for well over a century. They communicate who you are, where you work, your position within a company and how to contact you. They’ve always been a popular tool for introductions to  clients, vendors and business partners and team members.

Kodak business card - 1979I’ve been working in business for over thirty years. My first job out of college was as a systems analyst with the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY. It seemed fitting that my first business card from Kodak had my (youthful) photo on the front. In fact, the entire card itself was a photographic print, cut to the size of a traditional business card.

When I started my own consulting business ten years later in 1989, I designed a new card displaying my new company logo, company name, my name, title, phone number, fax number and mailing address. No email address or website URL yet — they didn’t exist.

Six years later, I reprinted my cards with a freshly designed logo and my first email address. I’ve used a variation of this basic card design for years — until today.

Social Media Influence

The explosion of social media over the last two years has made me rethink both the content and design of my business card. Here’s what I’ve changed and why:

  • Front Design. I want my card to have a clean and modern design, containing only the information I need — and no more.
  • Name and Company. As a consultant, I’m really selling my own personal expertise to clients, not a company name. In other words, I am my brand. To emphasize this point, I removed my company name, Beato Enterprises Inc., and am just using my logo to succinctly display my brand: Beato.
  • Title. My previous card had my title: President. But what does it tell you about what I actually do? Not much. I’ve served many technology roles and worked on a variety of communications projects over the last 20 years. I didn’t want to limit myself to a single printed title going forward, so I left my title off completely.
  • Phone number. Although my preferred method of communication is email, I still wanted to have a phone number printed. But I switched from my office phone number to my Google Voice number. I can now control whether incoming calls go to my office phone, and/or cell phone or direct to voicemail. It gives me more control.
  • Fax. Yes, I have a fax number. But no, I do not want to receive faxes! It’s gone — no fax number printed.
  • Email. Of course I included my email address, but made it a different one. My first address was mbeato@beato.com, following a popular convention at the time. But now I’m using mike@beato.com, which directly communicates my personal brand: me!
  • Website. Yes.
  • Twitter handle. Yes, I’m a very active Twitter user.
  • Mailing address. The only business I do via postal mail is receiving checks from clients — and that’s important. But since I always include my mailing address on my invoices, there’s no reason to also put it on the card.
  • QR Code. I considered printing a QR Code on the card containing my contact information, but ultimately decided against it. I’m not convinced the technology is going to take off, and I didn’t want it cluttering the card’s design.
  • Back Design. The back of the card is intentionally left blank. That gives me a place to add any piece of information by hand, such as a cell phone number, mailing address or other miscellaneous notes.

Finally, to make it the ultimate personal business card, tailored specifically for social media, I added a photo of myself to the front of the card. Yes, that means I’ve gone full-circle from my first Kodak business card!

Comments

  1. Zac Denver says

    You really “beat”o’d that theme to death!

    Seriously, though … If one’s e-mail address goes to one’s Web site, don’t you find it redundant to have both on your business card? In other words, if a recipient sees that your e-mail is mike@beato.com, how stupid would they have to be in order to not comprehend that http://www.beato.com was your Web site?

    Otherwise, I really like the way your card looks, especially with all that uncluttered white space. And the photo tells people, “I don’t take any shit from anyone, but I still have a good sense of humor about stuff.”

      • BBob says

        I disagree. It’s not all that uncommon to find someone who has set up email on their own domain but has not set up a web site, or has a web site they don’t really use. Putting the URL for your web site communicates not just the URL, but also the fact that you’ve put something useful at that URL and you would like for them to go look at it.

        I’d lose the picture, though. Not that it’s a bad picture, but as a rule of thumb people spend larger-than-necessary amounts of money on their business cards when they’re trying to compensate for some deficiency. Pictures, die-cut designs, four-color printing, odd sizes or shapes, two-sided printing, etc., are all red flags. The equivalent in the 1990′s was a resume printed on brightly-colored paper with a background image and multi-colored ink.

      • says

        I’d argue the opposite. You have a website. Presumably, that site includes your contact information. I’d suggest reducing the contact info on your card to simply your website and phone number. Even though your phone number is likely on your site, it gives people a way to contact you without being at their computer.

      • Glenn Broadway says

        I disagree BBob, the picture is great and it in no way suggests extravagance to compensate for deficiency. Our cards cost £50 for 500 four-colour. It’s no longer unusual.

        I love the design Mike.

      • Mike Beato says

        The cost of printing very high production quality 4-color cards was surprisingly low: 500 for under $30.

  2. says

    Bravo! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to eliminate unneeded info from cards – my pet peeve are the words “phone,” “fax,” “cell,” and “email” – it’s the 2000-teens! If one doesn’t know the format of each they shouldn’t be in the business world. Multiple phone numbers and obsolete fax numbers are useless. You are my hero. Then again, you always have been.

    • says

      Well, until we all have “follow-me” numbers (i.e., Google Voice or Ring Central), we’ll have more than one phone number.. I’ve noticed, some people tend toward different phone numbers. Some will call the company number and dial my extension. Some will call my direct line. Some (almost only those in my company or outside people I’ve directed to) call my cell. Granted, if you give them only one, then that’s the one they’ll call.

      As for fax, there are far more organizations that have faxes than one would think possible. Much of the reason is signatures (i.e., legal stuff). For me (in purchasing), fax is still essential (though I’d love to get rid of it).

    • Dan says

      I’m right with you Jim!

      In addition, I have to say I love the clean, uncluttered look of the phone number format.

      I’m in the cellular industry, so I may be a bit oversensitive but I cannot stand (555)555-5555, I think the parenthesis are redundant and their original meaning of setting off the area code is redundant now that everyone uses cell phones that are usually dialing with a 10-digit number anyway.

      I personally use my company’s style guide which is 555-555-5555, but personally am a fan of the (potentially more european?) 555.555.5555 or simple spaces like you used.

      Yes I realize this may have turned into a mini-rant on phone number formatting but I see so many otherwise clean and modern-design cards made archaic-looking by the dreaded paren.

    • Mike Beato says

      Thanks for pointing that out! (And thanks to Google for telling me who the Chuckle Brothers are)

  3. says

    Mike, I like the design and as a copywriter, love the simplicity. The only thing missing is context. What industry/service/benefit are you offering? You are right that having a title like ‘president’ is unnecessary, but adding something about what you actually do is essential to a business card.

    • Mike Beato says

      Chris, I considered adding a general line of business category, but I wasn’t satisfied with the ones I considered for fear of limiting myself to a specific area since I work on such a wide variety of projects. However, I think you have a good point. I will brainstorm some more and reconsider for my next version. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Gretchen says

        This might be a use for the QR code, directing the user to a small site where you describe your business. You could modify it any time.

        I agree with keeping the back blank, although perhaps that would be a good place for the QR code, in a corner, say.

      • Mike Beato says

        That’s a good idea, Gretchen. Perhaps I’ll reconsider my reluctance to add a QR code!

    • Bb says

      I agree. Removing “President” is smart, however, I have no idea what you do from this card. Perhaps a 2 word description – max.

  4. mm says

    I love the design, especially right-justifying the text so that everything follows the curve of your image. That’s one of those small things that contribute so much to the look of a card.

    • Mike Beato says

      It took lots of trial and error to get all the subtle things just the way I wanted. Thanks for noticing!

  5. says

    Great insights and discussions. Food for thought – the bcard of today should be designed to engage, and entice, readers to take a simple, small, and specific action to further engage someone into a valuable dialog FOR HIM or HER. My new card is being designed w a call to action on the back of the card. When some posts a “One Degree of Connection” Success story to my website I will make a donation of $5 to a charity up to 100usd per month and the best story of the month will receive a gift cert of $100… What other ideas can we come up with to change the bcard from one way comm to a 2 way conversation?

  6. winifred says

    excellent design – photo is powerful but not overbearing – visuals are key in this day and age

  7. Han says

    I work for a big multinational advisory firm, and our business cards are (unfortunately) highly standardized. I would like my business card to look more like yours! :)

    A couple of comments about business cards in general.

    I think it is better when your business card stands out: e.g. portrait, not landscape, has a picture, foldable, metal, or whatever creative idea you can come up with. The fact that it is memorable will help your ‘target’ memorize your details, or at least your card.

    To add to that, one of my sales trainers (a veteran in the business) gave me the idea of always writing down on the card (whether in print or handwritten) what expertise you have, or for what issues/ subjects someone should call you. I have many business cards on which only the company gives me an idea of the background of the person.

    In the book I last read (big five for life), the author recommends to have your ‘big five’ and reason for being on the card. This will also help in starting interesting conversations with someone.

  8. Brian says

    Three comments:
    * If you work internationally, add the +Country-code-number (e.g. +1 for the US, +44 for the UK) in front of the telephone number – is a MUST!
    * Many people like me would use a card scanner to transfer your card details to my PC/phone database – be considerate of funky designs, fonts or background colours that cannot be scanned – Mike’s card is excellent in this regard (except for the photo, which a scanner would ignore)
    * Consider what the real purpose of the business card is – it is a succinct means of providing your contact information, location and business to others.
    Too little might not be enough. If I had not read this article and had Mike Beato’s card in my possession, I would have no clue as to why I had it, where he was from or what he does.

  9. says

    I don’t think a person should have to look for their reading glasses to use my card. Bigger print is more important than space for practical reasons. Otherwise good ideas..

  10. rafa says

    As an expert, you don’t need the “www” address. It’s already implied on your email. Hack for all it matters just change your email address to your full name.

    As per the phone/fax address etc… I completely disagree. Those are the point of business cards. If you don’t have an office that’s fine. That will mean your website is your office. Point out that your “@” is a tweeter account. Not everyone you will hand this to knows it, cares or uses it.

    By being so simple you failed to understand what the medium is about. It’s not about handwritten notes on the back. It’s about captivating interest and that also depends on your business/knowledge.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.

      I realize the www is a bit redundant, but I thought the design looked better with it included. As for using only the “@” symbol to designate my Twitter id, I think you’re right about non-Twitter users. They wouldn’t really know much about it. But do you know what? That’s okay with me.

  11. esterp says

    I disagree, presumably if someone has your card is because you meet them personally then they would know what you do our at least have some idea, and if that’s not the case I’m sure that they can visit your webpage for more information. In my opinion the card is a way to let people know how to get in contact with you and if they want to know more you have provided your business name and webpage.

  12. says

    I’m on the fence when it comes to QR codes, but would argue for them if you have a big event that you’re going to or if you have different forms of advertising that you’re using. The QR code can be created to where you can track which one sent eyeballs to your site. One code for the business cards to hand out at conference x and one where you hand them out at conference y. The same for any advertising you do. This way you track where your time & money is best spent. (Yea, they’re only tracking the smartphone/iPad users at any event but it would still be a good statistical gauge of your marketing effectiveness.)

  13. gaz8080 says

    QR codes can contain VCARDS (rather than a URL) so that when scanned your contact details are automatically added to the users contacts. I think that’s a pretty good usage on a business card.

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback — you’re absolutely right! That’s exactly how I’d configure it. But I still am not convinced of their overall usage. Still wondering!